Human lifespan development is the pattern of movement or change that begins at conception and continues throughout the life span. Studying lifespan development is extremely beneficial to understanding who we are, how we came to be this way, and where our future will take us. Knowledge of the study of development can be obtained through five theoretical approaches. These approaches include psychoanalytic theories, cognitive theories, behavioral and social cognitive theories, the ethological theory, and the ecological theory.
The two main psychoanalytic theories were proposed by Freud and Erickson. According to psychoanalytic theories, development primarily depends on the unconscious mind and is heavily contained in emotion. Psychoanalytic theorists believe that behavior is merely a surface characteristic and that early experiences with parents shape development. Freud said that the personality is made up of the id, ego, and superego. The conflicting demands of these structures produce anxiety. He also argued that individuals go through five psychosexual stages.
Erikson’s theory emphasizes eight psychosocial stages of development: trust versus mistrust, autonomy versus shame and doubt, initiative versus guilt, industry versus inferiority, identity versus identity confusion, intimacy versus isolation, generativity versus stagnation, and integrity versus despair. Contributions of psychoanalytic theories include an emphasis on a developmental framework, family relationships, and unconscious aspects of the mind. Criticisms of this school of thought include a lack of scientific support, too much emphasis on sexual underpinnings, and an image of people that is too negative.
The three main cognitive theories are Piaget’s, Vygotsky’s, and information processing. Cognitive theories emphasize thinking, reasoning, language, and other cognitive processes. Piaget proposed a cognitive developmental theory in which children use their cognition...