THE CONTRIBUTION OF CLASSICAL THEORISTS TO CONTEMPORARY DEVELOPMENTAL THEORISTS
While all major developmental theories attempt to explain the growth of individuals, each theory has a slightly different perspective. Some theories emphasize environmental (nurture) more than biological (nature) influences. Some theories focus on a particular construct (e.g., cognition), while others emphasize the impact of age range in shaping development. Piaget’s cognitive developmental theory emphasizes fixed stages during which the mind’s capacities allow an individual to learn about the world. Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory, on the other hand, is not stage-based and describes growth as an interaction between the individual and his or her environment.
Contemporary theories (e.g., Langer’s theory of mindfulness) typically build upon the foundation generated by earlier theories. Langer’s theory of mindfulness contains similarities to classical theories, such as Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory, in that they both agree that development is contextual and the organism is an active “mindful” participant. Langer took Vygotsky’s theory to a new level, focusing specifically on education and the learner. Other contemporary theories include neo-Piagetian cognitive developmental theories, which attempt to address the limitations found within Piaget’s classical theory. Robbie Case, Andreas Demetriou, and Kurt Fischer proposed theories that were extensions of Piaget’s theory. These theorists added concepts that expanded on cognitive functioning within the stages of development. Most developmental psychologists today do not believe that a single perspective or theory can sufficiently explain lifespan development; rather, an eclectic approach accounts for development better.
For this Discussion, you will examine classical and contemporary developmental theories as they relate to current applications in developmental psychology.
Be sure to review the Learning Resources before completing this activity.
Click the weekly resources link to access the resources.
- Berk, L. E. (2023). Development through the lifespan (7th ed.). Sage.
- Chapter 1, “History, Theory, and Research Strategies” (“Scientific Beginnings” through “Comparing and Evaluating Theories,” (pp. 13-25)
- Aldwin, C. M. (2014). Rethinking developmental science Links to an external site.. Research in Human Development, 11(4), 247–254. doi:10.1080/15427609.2014.967045
- Lillard, A. S., Lerner, M. D., Hopkins, E. J., Dore, R. A., Smith, E. D., & Palmquist, C. M. (2013). The impact of pretend play on children’s development: A review of the evidence Links to an external site.. Psychological Bulletin, 139(1), 1–34. doi:10.1037/a0029321
- Greenfield, P. M. (2009). Linking social change and developmental change: Shifting pathways of human development Links to an external site.. Developmental Psychology, 45(2), 401–418. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0014726
Walden University, LLC. (2010a). Cognitive development theories [Video]. Walden University Canvas. https://waldenu.instructure.com
To prepare for this Discussion:
- Review the course text and other Learning Resources related to mid-20th-century theories and recent theoretical perspectives
- Select two theories from the following list, one from each column (classical, contemporary), that examine the same developmental processes (i.e., cognitive, physical, and/or social-emotional).
Classical Theories Contemporary Theories
- Social Learning
- Information Processing
- Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
- Ethology/Evolutionary Developmental
- Systems Theory
Post a brief description of the two theories you selected (one classical and one contemporary). Contrast the theories you selected. Specifically, identify important similarities and differences, including an explanation of the strengths and limitations of each theory in explaining developmental processes (i.e., cognitive, physical, and social-emotional). Note: Your descriptions should be in paragraph form, not bullet points. Use your Learning Resources and/or other scholarly sources to support your post. Use proper APA format and citations.
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