Donette Steele, M.A. / Clinical Psychology

Lifespan Chapter Two Study Guide


Developmental Theories

Theory:  A Definition


A set of interrelated statements that provides an explanation for a class of events.


Psychoanalytic Theories

The view that personality is fashioned progressively as the individual passes through various psychosexual stages:


Oral, anal, phallic, latency, genital.


Three states of being: id, ego, superego.



Freud: Psychosexual Stages of Development


The role of the unconscious

Psychosexual stages



Feminist View of Freud

Some scholars find Freud complicit with sexual abuse of women and girls.

Blaming the victim, rather than the abuser, was common.


Erik Erikson:  Psychosocial Stages of Development


Stages pose tasks and crises that individuals must struggle through.

Personality development takes place throughout the entire life span.


Erikson’s Nine Stages


Trust vs. mistrust

Autonomy vs. shame and doubt

Initiative vs. guilt

Industry vs. inferiority

Identity vs. identity confusion

Intimacy vs. isolation

Generativity vs. stagnation

Integrity vs. despair

Despair vs. hope and faith


Behavioral Theory

Concerned with observable behavior:  what people do and say.

Behavior divided into units: responses.

Environment divided into units: stimuli.

Also called learning theory.

Classical Conditioning


Process of stimulus substitution in which a new, previously neutral stimulus is substituted for the stimulus that naturally elicits a response.


Operant Conditioning

A type of learning in which the consequences of a behavior alter the strength of that behavior.


Behavior Modification

Pathological behavior is acquired through learning.The way to eliminate an unwanted behavior is to stop reinforcing it.


Humanistic Theory

Maintains that humans actively intervene in the course of events to control their destinies.

Holistic approach to the human condition.


Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Needs must be met in order.

Needs are:

    Physiological (food, water, sex)

    Safety and Security (shelter)

    Love and Belonging




Cognitive Theory

Cognition: Acts or processes of knowing.

Representing, organizing, treating, and transforming information as we devise our behavior.


Jean Piaget

Cognitive stages in development: Sequential periods in the growth or maturing of an individual’s ability to think—to gain knowledge, self-awareness, and awareness of the environment.


Cognitive Stages in Development



Concrete Operations

Formal Operations


Piaget: Adaptation

Infants adapt to the world in two ways.

   Assimilation: taking in new information and making it “fit” with existing model of world.

   Accommodation: changing one’s schema to make it match the reality of the world.


Cognitive Learning and Information Processing

Cognitive learning (Bandura, Mischel, Rosenthal and Zimmerman)

Imitation of behavior of socially competent models


Use of symbols


Ecological Theory

Centers on the relationship between the developing individual and the changing environment.

Focuses on the relationship between the person and the environment.


Sociocultural Theory

Development (Vygotsky)

Determined by the activity of groups

    a.  Child interacts with other persons

    b.  Assimilates social aspects of activity

    c.  Takes information and internalizes it

    d.  Social values become personal values




Mechanistic Model: Focuses on the universe as a machine composed of elementary particles in motion.


Continuity: Learning is cumulative, building on itself.


Organismic Model: Focuses on the universe as a whole.


Discontinuity: Individual is seen as passing through stages.


Nature Versus Nurture

The “Which” Question

The “How Much” Question

The “How” Question

Behavioral Genetics


Definition: focuses on individual differences and seeks answers to why individuals exhibit different behaviors.

Jerome Kagan: Timidity studies

The Minnesota Twin Project

 Polygenic inheritance

Evolutionary Adaptation Theory



Releasing Stimuli


Critical Period

Sensitive Period