Modern psychology can offer different explanations of such a process as the life-span development of a person. This paper is aimed at discussing such approaches as behaviorism, psychoanalytic model, and cognitive theory. In particular, it is necessary to show how they describe the psychological development of an individual. Moreover, one of the tasks is to examine current applications of these theories. On the whole, these models are still important for understanding the current trends in developmental psychology.
The first approach that is going to be discussed is behaviorism that was advocated by John Watson, Burrhus Skinner, and other scholars. It is based on the premise that the development of a person is a response to external stimuli.
The supporters of this model do not distinguish specific stages of the life-span, because people are continuously influenced by external factors, and it is difficult to predict their impact. A certain type of conduct can be adopted provided that it is rewarded or when it yields good results; yet, the same type of conduct can be rejected when it results in negative consequences such as punishment.
This theory still attracts the attention of psychologists; for instance, in their article, Joseph Burke et al (2009) discuss social context as one of external stimuli that shapes the behavior of a person. In particular, they discuss legal, historical, and political structures that influence the beliefs and attitudes of an individual (Burke et al, 2009, p. 56).
These authors speak about people’s attitude toward their health (Burke et al, 2009, p. 56). It should be noted that many organizations adopt the principles of behaviorism in order to modify the behavior of employees. For instance, such as an organization as Management for All (2012) provides guidelines for motivating workers and promote their professional growth.
Their website explains how behaviorism can assist business administrators (Management for All, 2012, unpaged). Certainly, behavioral theory cannot explain every aspect of life-span development, but it can throw light on the formation of values and principles. Moreover, it is important for understanding for motivation of a person. This is why this model is still of great interest to psychologists.
The second model that should be discussed is psychoanalytic theory that still remains popular among many therapists. Unlike behaviorism, psychoanalysis does not attach much importance to the external factors; instead it focuses on the sexuality of an individual.
Moreover, the supporters of psychoanalysis single out the distinct stages of the life-span, namely oral, anal and phallic or genital stage (Löffler-Stastka & Steinmair, 2009, p. 12). The general premise is that at different stages of life-span a person can have different erogenous zones that drive the libido or sexual desires of a human being.
One can refer to the article written by Henriette Löffler-Stastka and Dagmar Steinmair (2009) who discuss the applications of psychoanalytic theory to the treatment of patients with affective and emotional disorders. Overall, psychoanalytic model of life-span development is widely used by counselors and therapists. For instance, the American Psychoanalytic Association (2012) describes various applications of psychoanalytic theory.
In particular, this model can explain a child relationship with a caregiver, his/her attachment to parents, and various causes of psychological traumas (American Psychoanalytic Association, 2012, unpaged). Certainly, one should note that psychological theory may be criticized for the lack of empirical evidence that can support it. Nevertheless, it is still applied by many practitioners.
Finally, it is important to mention the cognitive theory of development that was elaborated by Jean Piaget. This theory is aimed at explains the way in which an individual acquires new knowledge and adopts new ways of thinking.
To some degree, this approach is similar to behaviorism, because it also focuses on the influence of external environment on the person. This theoretical framework postulates that people tends to understand the world through the process of assimilation. In other words, the individual evaluates his/her experience by applying the previous knowledge.
Yet, learning also takes place through accommodation when a person adopts new ways of thinking. In her article, Diana Laurillard (2009) explains how the knowledge of cognitive processes can be used by educators, especially in those cases when they adopt information technologies in the classroom. Overall, cognitive theory has found many practical applications. In particular, one can refer to the website of Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences (2012).
According to this organization, the information provided by cognitive psychologists can greatly facilitate decision-making or improve learning strategies (Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences, 2012, unpaged). Moreover, it can be applied to computer science and machine learning. Therefore, cognitive theory of life-span development is important for contemporary psychologists.
Overall, the theories that have been discussed focus on different aspects of life-span development, namely external stimuli, sexuality, and cognition. Yet, these models remain important for modern psychologists because they can be applied to such practical fields as education, therapy, decision-making, and learning. They illustrate the complexity of human development that cannot be reduced to one particular aspect.
American Psychoanalytic Association. (2012). Contributions of Psychoanalysis. Web.
Burke, N., Joseph, G., Pasick, R. & Barker, J. (2009). Theorizing Social Context: Rethinking Behavioral Theory. Health Education& Behavior, 36(5), 55-70.
Laurillard, D. (2009). The pedagogical challenges to collaborative technologies. International Journal Of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 4(1), 5-20.
Löffler-Stastka, H., & Steinmair, D. (2009). Psychoanalytical theory of affects and its applicability on the Affect Regulation and Affect Experience Q-Sort Test (AREQ). Journal Of Medical Psychology, 1(1), 10-20.
Management for All. (2012). Behavioral Theories of Motivation. Web.
Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences. (2012). Cognitive Psychology. Web.