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Free «Developmental Theories» Essay Sample

A theory is termed as a logical set of thoughts and ideas that helps to clarify information and formulate predictions. A theory is generally composed of assumptions or hypotheses that can be experimented in order to establish their accuracy. After having been supported by proof or facts, these assumptions turn into new theories for future study. Researchers make use of theories as a means to guide them in their observations and create new information. Therefore, theories are the basis for the whole research. In this case, developmental theories are research-based ideas that have been laid down by psychologists to explain human development in physical, mental, cognitive and psychological aspects throughout his/her lifespan. Theories discussed in this research paper include social-cognitive, psychoanalytic and cognitive perspectives, and similarities and differences between them are discussed at length.They provide a structure for thinking during learning, development and human growth. If you have constantly wondered on what motivates human behavior and thoughts, comprehending these theories can give a useful insight into the society and individuals.  

Social-Cognitive Theory

To comprehend the very components and nature while learning a behavior pattern, particularly a human complex mode of response, is a tough undertaking, and it has turned out critically vital to survey phenomena that cause an individual to take actions in its own exceptional way and comprise a characteristic pattern of individuality. The social-cognitive perspective contributes to personality theories by focusing on major components in determining behavior. The latter include situational, environmental and personal variables.

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The social learning theory originated in the early 1940’s, when John Dollard and Neal Miller(1950) tried to combine the psychoanalytic theory and behaviorism. The pairing was not doing well, because the uncertainty of numerous psychoanalytic concepts made it practically impossible to affix them in the empirical observational methodology of behaviorism. Other theorists started taking contemporary approaches towards the social learning theory, and one of them was Albert Bandura.

Albert Bandura’s social-cognitive theory is the structure of education based on the connection between such aspects as an environment, personal factors and behavior (Institute for Dynamic Educational Advance, 2010). These factors are leaned on a physical or social environment. The latter includes family, colleagues and friends, whereas a physical environment can cover an online e-learning classroom, classroom setting, room temperature, securing a room dimension or particular food. The social-cognitive theory clarifies course functions of persons and features of emotional behavior. In comprehending this behavior, the course of understanding behavioral alteration becomes more vivid. According to Burney (2008), this cognitive progression offers a setting for humans to examine their surroundings and others by means of information collected to control their functions. Bandura pioneered self-efficacy as the core of the social cognitive theory. Being one of the most studied subject matters in psychology, self-efficacy is one’s personal faith in succeeding, when given circumstances are based on an individual’s certainty method of feeling, thinking and behavior or response (University of Twente, 2010).

While populaces have turned out to be additionally varied, the worldwide educational locale has developed to cover extra students that are technology-rich (Gunter, 2007). When institutions of advanced learning search for additional methods to be made available and developed based on existing learning contributions, the social-cognitive theory is applied as a way of advancing education and discovering tactics to enhance the education contentment of students. It is vital for e-learning. Although practical innovations and advances are on the rise at a fast rate, the drop-out pace among conventional students continues to go up (Gunter, 2007).

The Result of Instructional Immediacy

Gunter (2007) defines the result of instructional propinquity as behaviors that assist in the direction of construction associations and feelings of nearness in both online and traditional classrooms. He undertook a study based on Bandura’s social-cognitive theory to investigate how the application of immediacy can advance cognitive education while lowering learner attrition. The research comprised teachers participating in 14-week online special technology lessons. Research results demonstrated how a variety of interactions using instructional closeness behaviors enlarged student motivation. Together with the social cognitive theory, online standing incentives, such as social interaction and frequent feedback, were integrated into the survey to make sense of the society among teachers, resulting in enhanced self-efficacy of learners.

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Self-Efficacy and Achievement in Online Mathematics

Academically, mathematics was among the first subjects under discussion to promote computer-based learning (Spence & Usher 2007). In the latest years, attention have been paid to e-learning in arithmetic and its courseware efficiency. Such models as the teleological theory focus on grouping, while the social-cognitive theory concentrates on the person. Scholar self-efficacy, that is how a student reflects on his/her educational capabilities, has been deeply analyzed and utilized to forecast academic attainment in mathematics. Connected to optimism, high accomplishment goals and self-concept, self-efficacy is employed by certain persons to facilitate carrying on in opposition to obstacles by coping mechanisms and organizing their learning. Using the social-cognitive theory to look at online mathematics, another study used 88 learners from a conventional environment and extra 76 students from an online setting (Spence, 2007). Major differences were established among online and traditional classroom students together with mathematical achievements, engagement, age and grades. If the age disparity was proscribed, all additional factors would stay at noteworthy differences. The researchers brought to a close that an observable fact of lowered principle systems existed among online scholars, making their score lower. The researchers mentioned that students may possibly had selected online studies due to their inability and were embarrassed to disclose that to a tutor in a traditional classroom opted for the online class system. Students with advanced self-efficacy demonstrated better task engagement. Using a 6 point Likert scale (Spence & Usher, 2007), learners were asked such queries as “How sound can you inspire yourself to accomplish mathematical groundwork?” Findings from the research exposed that arithmetic self-efficacy contributed significantly to mathematical success. The study revealed an inequity in gender assortment, which might have interfered with the result of the study. Out of 167 model participants, only 37 were male.

Student Satisfaction in E-Learning

Even though research indicates an improvement in e-learning, teachers persist to explore for alternating delivery solutions due to the shortcomings experienced by students. E-learners might experience remoteness due to insufficient social interaction, inadequate tutorial support and peer contact (Jen-Her, Tennyson, & Tzyh-Lih, 2009). By using the social-cognitive theory as a groundwork, a survey was planned to use the blended e-learning system (BELS) environment, which merged diverse learning styles with dissimilar delivery methods, such as web-based tutorials, online discussions and courses. Picoli extended the learning setting, spotting five environmental issues for e-learning situations: classroom-based schooling, including learner control, learning model, interaction, content and technology (Jen-Her, Tennyson, & Tzyh-Lih, 2009). The researchers regarded the social-cognitive theory to be appropriate to the BELS because of three factors: social environment (interactions), technology environment and cognitive beliefs (self-efficacy).  The efficiency of the BELS is influenced by technology in the classroom, course information and material content. Surroundings influence learner’s tolerability to the BELS.

Psychoanalytical Perspective

The psychoanalytical perspective was first brought into educational pictures by Sigmund Freud. His theories of psychoanalysis, particularly anal personality, projection and oral fixation, were part of his unique findings in research work, majorly touching psychology. The psychoanalytic perspective proposes that there is the organization of the mind, rather than the brain, that consists of the ego, the superego and the id. These structures fight for being in charge of the power of the mind. The id tries to have fundamental pleasure-seeking instincts contented, and the ego works to put off the id from expressing itself incorrectly. On the other hand, the superego, which is alike conscience takes this situation by attempting to impose parental, religious and/or societal values about wrong and right. Occasionally, the forces of the id slide out (the infamous Freudian slip) and are indicated by trips of dreams and the tongue (Psychoanalytic, 2012).

The psychoanalytic theory is criticized sometimes because of the difficulty in studying the number of its components scientifically. Nevertheless, a lot of insights from psychoanalysis have helped in our understanding of individuality. The influential role of psychoanalysis is defense mechanisms. They are described as a psyche approach of supporting us in dealing with nervousness or anxiety. 

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The psychoanalytic theory covered different developments to explain gender growth in boys and girls. Originally, both girls and boys are thought to recognize themselves with their mothers. However, between 3 and 5 years of age, this phenomenon changes, and kids recognize themselves with the same-sex parent. The identification with the alike-sex father or mother is acknowledged to determine children clash experience as an outcome of erotic affection to the opposite-sex parent and envy towards the same-sex one. This connection makes kids more nervous, as they panic vengeance from the same-sex parent.

The process of recognition is portrayed as one, in which kids assume across-the-board acceptance of the qualities and characteristics of the identical-sex parent. During this process, children turn into sex-typed. Since the recognition with the alike-sex parent is more powerful for boys than girls, male kids are likely to be further powerfully sex-typed. Even though the psychoanalytic theory is all-encompassing and untimely manipulates in developmental psychology, there is experimental evidence to hold up to it. An apparent connection between the recognition with the identical-sex parent and gender-role approval has on no account been experimentally verified (Hetherington, 1967).

Cognitive Psychology

The cognitive perspective theory tries to expound on human mental processes, which include how people learn, remember, perceive and think, and how this concept is associated with behaviorism or rather observable behavior. Cognitive psychology emerged in 1950s partially as a reaction to the earlier theory known as a social-cognitive theory, sometimes referred to as behaviorism. The recent development of cognitive psychology was caused by the WWII focus on the study of person attention and performance, developments in computer discipline, particularly those in simulated intelligence, and the renewal of curiosity in the side of linguistics. The critics of behaviorism reckoned that it did not explain how internal processes affected behavior. This era is sometimes known as a "cognitive revolution" marked with the appearance of such issues as perception, memory and language. Among the most significant theories from this train of thought, there were phases of the cognitive development theory projected by Jean Piaget (Anderson, 1996).

Similar to physics, simulations and experiments are the main research gear in cognitive psychology. Regularly, the forecast of models is straightforwardly compared with human behavior. With the simplicity of admission and extensive use of brain imaging methods, cognitive psychology has seen a mounting influence of cognitive neuroscience over the past ten years. There are presently three major approaches in cognitive psychology: neural cognitive psychology, computational cognitive psychology, and experimental cognitive psychology (Anderson, 1996).

Experimental cognitive psychology reveals cognitive psychology as one of the applied experimental sciences and ordinary ones to examine human cognition. Psychophysical responses, eye tracking and response time are regularly calculated in experimental cognitive psychology. The three approaches are frequently inter-connected and give both complementary and independent insights in each sub-domain of cognitive psychology (Anderson, 1996).

Similarities between the Three Theories

The three mentioned theories have a big similarity in that all of them try to enlighten us much on human developmental processes, which occur throughout human growth. The social-cognitive theory discusses how one’s environmental, situational or personal variables can affect his or her behavior and development generally. Similarly, the psychoanalytical perspective tries to explain how the human brain develops to counter three aspects, namely the superego, the ego and the id. In addition, according to the cognitive perspective, it highlights how the human brain develops in the fields of remembering, learning, perceiving and thinking. The three theories also dwell much on human behaviors and their influential factors, which include environment, situational, and even internal forces.

On the other hand, there are several discrepancies observed in the three theories, which make each one different from the others. For instance, Albert Bandura’s social-cognitive theory, which is commonly known as behaviorism, gives suggestions that human behavior is determined by environmental effects rather than being influenced by internal forces. For instance, if a child grows in an environment, where other children are abusive, he/she will be influenced by this phenomenon and adapt the character of abusiveness. This is not the case when it comes to the cognitive perspective, as it is concerned with the child’s internal mental state. Thus, how a child perceives, learns or thinks is determined by his or her mind rather than the external influence. This is an aspect of an internal mental state that cuts across the psychoanalytical theory, which brings out human self-concept, self-conscious and defense mechanisms.


Psychology is definitely a wide area of discussion concerning the human brain, and many people find it more challenging.  On the same board, there are many theories of human development, and for one to fully understand mental development of children, he/she has to cover the social-cognitive, psychoanalytical and cognitive perspectives. Teachers need to be aware what affects students’ achievements and apparently give advice to them in regard with the skills they need to possess and acquire in order to succeed in a classroom.


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