Social Development Theories in Human Growth and Development

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  • 0:07 Childhood Social Development
  • 0:46 Psychoanaltic Theory
  • 2:07 Social Learning Theory
  • 3:35 Attachement Theory
  • 5:48 Lesson Summary
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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.'

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