Social Development Theories in Human Growth and Development

  • 0:07 Childhood Social Development
  • 0:46 Psychoanaltic Theory
  • 2:07 Social Learning Theory
  • 3:35 Attachement Theory
  • 5:48 Lesson Summary
Create An Account
To Start This Course Today
Used by over 10 million students worldwide
Create An Account
Try it free for 5 days
Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jade Mazarin

Jade is a board certified Christian counselor with an MA in Marriage and Family Therapy, and a certification in Natural Health. She is also a freelance writer on emotional health and spirituality.

There are various theories on the social development of children. In this lesson, we will follow Sally as she meets with different psychologists, learning and differentiating between three of the most popular theories: psychoanalytic, social learning and attachment.

Childhood Social Development Theories

How does a child develop socially? How do children learn to interact with others, and what is the process that gets them there? In order to answer these questions, researchers and psychologists have examined children and come up with various theories through the years. Today we will focus on three of the most well known theories of childhood social development: psychoanalytic theory, social learning theory and attachment theory.

Let's meet Sally. Sally is curious about developmental theories and has set out to learn about them by meeting with three different psychologists, each of whom subscribe to a different theory about how we develop.

Psychoanalytic Theory

Today, Sally is going to a psychologist who follows psychoanalytic theory. When the session begins, he holds up blots of ink and asks what she sees in them. He does this in order to bring forth her unconscious feelings or desires. He does not ask about her feelings or desires, because he believes that she is not aware of them. This theory was developed by Sigmund Freud and states that what really drives us are urges and needs beneath our conscious awareness, specifically urges and needs that come from childhood.

The therapist explains to Sally that during childhood, she developed through a series of psychosexual stages: oral, anal, phallic, latency and genital. If a stage was not successfully completed, Sally would be fixated on that stage in a way that would negatively affect her present personality and interactions with others. He said, for example, that her feeling of being uptight around others was a sign that she was stuck in the anal stage.

Today, many researchers do not subscribe to psychoanalytic theory because it is difficult to test for accuracy. After all, how can we be sure to know what is going on in the unconscious? This theory also differs from other developmental theories in its belief of psychosexual stages and their lasting impact on the individual.

Social Learning Theory

Next up, we have a psychologist who subscribes to social learning theory, founded by Albert Bandura. When Sally asks what the theory is about, the psychologist shows her a video. 'This is six year old Lisa,' he says. 'Watch as she participates in an experiment.'

As the video begins, Lisa is watching a woman interact with a doll through a window. She is throwing the doll, yelling and hitting it. Afterward, Lisa is invited to play with the doll by herself. She throws it and kicks it, yelling at it as the woman did. 'This is the famous Bobo doll experiment,' says the psychologist. 'It displays the tendency for children to learn behavior by watching it.'

That, then, is the premise of social learning theory: we act a certain way by having first observed it. Then we interact with others based on what we have learned. When our actions are encouraged or reinforced by others, we are inclined to repeat that behavior, practicing it until it becomes habitual. Social development, therefore, arises simply from watching those around us and imitating them.

Sally is noticing that this theory is different from psychoanalytic theory, because it does not take the unconscious into account. It also doesn't lean on emotions or stages of development. Instead, its focus is on behavior and how that comes about. The theory is therefore easier to notice and measure, as seen from the Bobo doll experiment.

Attachment Theory

Finally, Sally is going to the third psychologist, who subscribes to attachment theory, developed by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth. The psychologist wastes no time before she asks Sally about her childhood. 'What was your relationship like with your mother and father?,' she asks. 'Did you run to them for help? Did you know they would be there for you? How did you feel if they left?' The majority of questions asked by the psychologist involve Sally's interactions with her parents as a young child.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 10 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member

Already a member? Log In

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 100 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,900 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Click "next lesson" whenever you finish a lesson and quiz. Got It
You now have full access to our lessons and courses. Watch the lesson now or keep exploring. Got It
You're 25% of the way through this course! Keep going at this rate,and you'll be done before you know it.
1
The first step is always the hardest! Congrats on finishing your first lesson.
5
Way to go! If you watch at least 30 minutes of lessons each day you'll master your goals before you know it.
10
Congratulations on earning a badge for watching 10 videos but you've only scratched the surface. Keep it up!
20
You've just watched 20 videos and earned a badge for your accomplishment!
50
You've just earned a badge for watching 50 different lessons. Keep it up, you're making great progress!
100
You just watched your 100th video lesson. You have earned a badge for this achievement!
200
Congratulations! You just finished watching your 200th lesson and earned a badge!
300
Congratulations! You just finished watching your 300th lesson and earned a badge!
500
You are a superstar! You have earned the prestigious 500 video lessons watched badge.
1K
Incredible. You have just entered the exclusive club and earned the 1000 videos watched badge.
20
You have earned a badge for watching 20 minutes of lessons.
50
You have earned a badge for watching 50 minutes of lessons.
100
You have earned a badge for watching 100 minutes of lessons.
250
You have earned a badge for watching 250 minutes of lessons.
500
You have earned a badge for watching 500 minutes of lessons.
1K
You have earned a badge for watching 1000 minutes of lessons.