Theories of Human Development

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Environmental versus Epigenetic Theories:

When referring to epigenetic theory, it is a relatively new theory that focuses on the genetic origins and how they are affected by the interactions with the environment. Proponents of this theory believe that over time environmental forces will impact the expression of certain genes. On the other hand, the environmental theory removes the genetic factor. This theory believes that a child is a product of direct interaction with their environment. Proponents of the environmental theory believe that children learn best through repetition and rote memorization.

Psychoanalytical Theory (Freud)

This theory describes the developmental process as an unconscious act. Freud believed that humans need for the basic necessities of life, food, shelter, and warmth. Fulfilling these instincts, through development, becomes the foundations for human sexuality. Progression of children through various stages such as the oral, anal and phallic, is a “gradual organization of the libidinal drives, but one still centered on the child’s own body” (Quigley, 1998). As children further develop, Freud states they experience the “Oedipus Complex” which involves boys falling in love with their mothers and girls falling in love with their fathers. More focus is placed on the boys at this stage with the girls being considered by Freud as a “dark continent” (Quigley, 1998). Freud’s theory seems “to overemphasize the role of sexuality in human psychological development and experience” (Quigley, 1998).

Behaviorist Theory (Watson)

In response to Freud’s theories, Watson felt that psychology needed to focus on measurable variables in order for it to progress. Watson believed that one’s environment was the driving force behind development with no attention paid to the subconscious. He felt that the environment in which one was place was the “determinant factor in behavior” (Hall). “[T]o the behaviorist, normal behavior results from...
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