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Flashcards in Theories Deck (15):

John Locke's idea's on human perception of the world
Rationalist philosophers' views such as Leibniz & Descartes

He believed that humans are born Tabula Rasa (a blank slate), having developed no understanding of the outside world whilst in the womb - only able to learn from experience. Similar to early psychologists Empiricist View.

Rationalist philosophers of the time believed that your perception of the world is more predetermined by genetics. Similiar to the Nativist View.



A prominent school of thought in Psychology in the early 20th century, emphasising the role of learning in human behaviour. Agreeing with the Empiricist, Tabula Rasa idea that behaviours are learned.
John Watson / Ivan Pavlov / Edward Thorndike / B.F. Skinner


Classical Conditioning

Pavlov's dog
Discovered first by Pavlov in the early 20th century - Classical Conditioning is a type of learning in which 2 stimuli (1 familiar and 1 not) are presented together until both stimuli trigger the same behavioural response


Operant Conditioning

A way of learning in which the behaviour is controlled by a manipulation of the consequences of the behaviour.
- Behaviour that is rewarded will be more likely to recur
- Behaviour that is punished will decrease the likelihood



The major opposition to Behaviourism in the early 20thC, explaining infant development in terms of Maturational Timetables, predetermined by genetics.
This idea that the emergence of children's abilities being largely determined by genetic inheritance comes from the finding that in children, motor control is learned first in the neck and torso, and then the arms and hands. And in a twin study - increased motor stimulation did not increase motor skill development


Psychodynamic Theory of Development

Proposed by Freud in the early 20thC
States that development occurs in discrete stages that are largely driven by biological drives that form personality on interaction with the environment
Also states that the human personality is made of three components - Id, Ego, and Superego
- Id is the first to develop, it is a person's instinctual drives, operating on the pleasure principle, gratifying needs without question
- The Ego is the rational aspect that develops next and gradually controls the Id, attempting to gratify needs based on socially acceptable behaviours
- The Superego emerges when a child begins to internalise and comprehend social morals and values. Enabling them to develop a conscience and the ability to apply moral values to their own behaviours


Psychodynamic stages of development

As proposed by Freud, these are the discrete developmental stages throughout life

Oral (0-1)
- Focus on using the mouth for eating, sucking, crying

Anal (1-3)
- Focus on toilet training. First experience with authority and discipline

Phallic (3-6)
- Sexual urges emerge and arouse curiosity. Children observe gender differences and critically, develop their sexuality

Latency (6-20)
- Sexual urges are repressed. Emphasis on learning and beginnings of concern for others

Genital (20-65)
- Altruistic love meets selfish love and a need for reproduction emerges and causes adoption of adult responsibilities


Psychosocial Theory of Development

Proposed by Freud's colleague Erik Erikson and sees children developing in a series of stages, largely through accomplishing tasks that involve interaction with their social environment
Stages, purpose & risk if not completed:

Infancy (0-1)
- Developing basic trust in oneself and others
- Risk of mistrust of others and a lack of self-confidence

Early Childhood (1-3)
- Learn about self-control and establish autonomy
- Risk of shame and doubt of one's own capabilities

Play Age (3-6)
- Develop initiative in mastering the environment
- Risk of feelings of guilt over aggressiveness and daring

School Age (6-12)
- Develop a work-oriented mentality
- Risk of feelings of inferioirity over real or imagined failure to master tasks

Adolescence (12-20)
- Achieve a sense of personal identity
- Risk of role confusion over who and what the individual wants to be

Young Adulthood (20-30)
- Achieve intimacy with others
- Risk (due to shaky identity) of avoidance of others and isolation

Adulthood (30-65)
- Express oneself through generativity (reproduction)
- Risk of stagnation of ideas and development if there is an inability to create children

Mature Age (65+)
- Achieve a sense of contentedness
- Risk of despair due to self-doubt and unfulfilled desires


Ethological Theory

Contests the Psychodynamic and Psychosocial ideas that identity development is staged and strictly sequential. The ethological theory is influenced by Darwin's evolutionary theory and proposes that behaviour must be viewed as occurring in a particular context and has survival value



Coined by Konrad Lorenz, the term imprinting refers to a sudden, biologically primed form of attachment.
Imprinting occurs in some bird species and a few mammals and involves a Critical Period, after which imprinting cannot occur.
In mallard ducklings, this Critical Period is between 1 and 3 days of hatching.
Imprinting in ducklings is shown as following the mother, they can, however, be imprinted to follow any animal


Bowlby's Maternal Deprivation Hypothesis

States that attachments between infant and mother in the early stages of development are vital for proper socioemotional development


Social Learning Theory

Stresses that new behaviours are learned by observation and imitation, whilst mediated by a cognitive process
This imitation does not occur blindly or automatically there are four processes that govern how well a child will learn a new behaviour
Attention - Retention - Reproduction - Motivation
(Bandura's Model of observational learning

- The child must see the behaviour
- They must be able to retain the observed behaviour in their memory
- They must be physically capable of reproducing the behaviour
- They must have a reason for reproducing the behaviour


Piagetian Theory

A theory of cognitive development that sees the child as actively seeking new information


Sociocultural Theory

Proposed by Lev Vygotsky, the theory sees development as emerging from interactions with more skilled people and the institutions provided by their culture. Taking into account more of the child's environment


Evolutionary Psychology

Inspired by Darwin's Evolutionary Theory - Evolutionary Psychology proposes that psychological traits such as memory, perception and language are functional products of natural selection
Some evolutionary developmental theories are strongly influenced by Fodor's 'Modularity of the Mind', in which he proposes that many of the cognitive human functions that we possess are coded for within 'modules' - a specialised system for learning or operating that we have developed through natural selection. Such as language learning