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The Early Theories of Human Development

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Several scholars have established theories to expound on human development. The basis of each concept is varied and dependent on the theorist’s perception, which might include sexuality, social life, or even intellectual capabilities. This paper will focus on three developmental theories by; Piaget, Freud, and Erickson.

According to Cherry (2018), Piaget’s theory of cognitive development implies that children go through four mental developmental stages. The theory focuses on how knowledge is acquired and the comprehension of the type of intelligence. The first stage of intellectual is the sensorimotor stage which begins at birth until two years. At this initial stage newborns and toddlers gain knowledge via sensory experience and object manipulation. Elementary reflexes, senses, and motor reactions play a crucial in enhancing a child’s experiences. Children learn physical actions, including crawling; they also grasp language concepts from people.

Additionally, kids learn how to differentiate objects, thus begin to attach words and names to objects. The preoperational stage is the second stage and is between two years and seven years. At this level, children start to think symbolically and use words and pictures to represent objects. Moreover, they tend to be egocentric and think about things in very concrete terms. The third is the concrete operational stage, which is between seven years and 11 years. During this stage, kids start to think logically concerning concrete events, and they resume to comprehend the concept of conservation and usage of inductive reasoning from particular facts to a general principle. Lastly is the formal operational stage, which is from twelve years of age. The young adults resume to reason abstractly and think concerning hypothetical problems. Also, they exhibit moral, ethical, socio-political, and philosophical issues that necessitate theoretical and abstract thinking. Kids at this stage are capable of seeing varied significant solutions to problems and can plan for the future systematically.

On the contrary, Branje & Koper, 2018 et al. reported that Erickson’s theory focuses on psychosocial development which entails a discussion of the social impact in the entire lifespan in eight stages. Trust versus mistrust is the first stage and begins from birth to one year- this is a vital stage in life that enables a kid to develop trust, which results in feeling safe in the world. Failure to build with the caregivers yields fear and a belief that the world is unpredictable. Autonomy versus shame and doubt is the next step, and it occurs during early childhood. Allowing kids to make simple decisions and gain control empowers the kid to develop autonomy contrary, deny kids to exercise such breeds a sense of inadequacy and lack of confidence. The third is initiative versus guilt, which occurs during preschool years. Children begin to assert their control and power over the world via guiding plays and social relationships. Successful kids feel capable of leading others, while those who fail to grasp the skills feel guilt. At the age of five to eleven years, industry verse inferiority stage sets where kids develop a sense of pride in their achievements and talents. The successful fellow is competent and can handle any given task while the contrary group is inferior. The turbulent teenage period exhibits the identity and confusion stage, which is characterized by an exploration of independence and the development of a sense of self. Failure to succeed at this level leads to confusion and insecurities. Intimacy versus isolation sets in during early adulthood as people explore personal relationships. Failure at this level leads to loneliness and emotional isolation, while success leads to the establishment of love. Generativity verse stagnation is the seventh stage that occurs during adulthood as one builds life, career, and family. Successful adults in this stage acquire a virtue called to care, and the contrary group will feel unproductive. The last stage is integrity versus despair that occurs at old age and entails reflecting on life. Those who succeed will be proud of their accomplishments and feel a sense of integrity while the loser will be bitter and have a feeling of despair.

According to Freud, children go through a series of psychosexual levels towards attaining adulthood personality. The psychosexual energy known as the libido is the determinant of behaviors, and a personality is mostly established at five years and develops over time via experiences. The stages of development include; the oral stage, the anal stage, the phallic stage, the latent period, and the genital stage. Each of these stages has conflicts that either leads to development or suppress growth depending on the ability to devise a solution (Kenny, 2019).

The major similarities amongst the theories are the fact that they all describe the psychological aspect of human development. The contrast in the theories is the concepts behind each of them. Freud ground his theory on sexuality, Erickson, on the influence of socialization while Piaget’s s based on knowledge and intelligence.

Several criticisms are emerging from these theories. Freud’s theory is gender-biased since it focuses on male development with scanty facts about female psychosexual development. Moreover, his theory does not accommodate homosexuality. On the other hand, Erickson’s theory does not give a clear transition of stages; also, it does not provide the precise social qualities that are a benchmark for each level.

To sum up, the three scholars portray varied grounds for their concepts. Freud uses sexuality; Erickson uses relationships while Piaget checks on the attainment of information and the nature of intelligence. 

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