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It’s Developmental, my dear Watson!

Dr. DeFalco

Hello, today I’m going to share with you some thoughts on how the developmental psychologists thought about human nature. 

Developmental psychology is a captivating field that explores the growth and changes occurring throughout the human lifespan. This lecture will delve into some of the most influential theories and theorists in developmental psychology, highlighting their unique perspectives on human nature.

Sigmund Freud’s Psychosexual Stages

Freud proposed that psychological development in childhood takes place in a series of fixed psychosexual stages: oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital. He believed these stages are characterized by the pleasure-seeking energies of the id.

Freud viewed human nature as fundamentally driven by unconscious desires and conflicts, especially of a sexual and aggressive nature.

Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages

Erikson extended Freud’s ideas, proposing eight stages of psychosocial development. Each stage presents a crisis that must be resolved for healthy personality development.

Erikson saw individuals as social creatures, influenced heavily by their interactions with others. His view of human nature was more positive, emphasizing growth and adaptive potential.

Jean Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development

Piaget outlined four stages of cognitive development (sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational) that children go through as they build and refine their understanding of the world.

Piaget focused on the evolving nature of human intelligence and cognition, viewing children as little scientists who actively construct their own cognitive worlds.

Lev Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory

Vygotsky emphasized the social and cultural influences on a child’s learning and proposed the concept of the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD).

Vygotsky saw human development as inherently linked to social and cultural contexts, with language playing a central role in cognitive development.

Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory

Bandura’s theory posits that people learn from one another through observation, imitation, and modeling, which he demonstrated in his famous Bobo doll experiment.

Bandura’s view of human nature is one of agency and the capacity for self-regulation, with a strong emphasis on the role of environment and observational learning.

Urie Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory

Bronfenbrenner’s theory focuses on the various environmental systems (microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem, and chronosystem) that influence individual development.

He viewed human development as dynamically influenced by different layers of the environment, from immediate surroundings to broader cultural influences.

In conclusion, these theorists and their theories collectively provide a rich, multifaceted view of human development. While each scientist had there own unique perspective, they all contributed to our understanding of the complexity of human growth and development. Today, the study of developmental psychology continues to evolve, integrating these foundational perspectives with new research and insights. Thank you for your interest. 

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