Development Psychology

Learn all of the different development theories

By: Alex Aldrich

Kohlbergs theory of Moral Development

There are 6 stages of Moral Development but they are classified in 3 levels, Pre-conventional morality, Conventional morality and Post conventional morality.

Level 1: Pre-conventional Morality

Stage 1: Obedience and Punishment Orientation. The child/individual is good in order to avoid being punished. If a person is punished, they must have done wrong.


Stage 2: Individualism and Exchange. Children recognize that there is not just one right view that is handed down by the authorities. Different individuals have different viewpoints.


Level 2: Conventional Morality

Stage 3: Good Interpersonal Relationships. The child/individual is good in order to be seen as being a good person by others. Therefore, answers relate to the approval of others.


Stage 4: Maintaining the Social Order. The child/individual becomes aware of the wider rules of society so judgments concern obeying the rules in order to uphold the law and to avoid guilt.


Level 3: Post-conventional Morality

Stage 5: Social Contract and Individual Rights. The child/individual becomes aware that while rules or laws might exist for the good of the greatest number, there are times when they will work against the interest of particular individuals. The issues are not always clear cut.


Stage 6: Universal Principles. People at this stage have developed their own set of moral guidelines which may or may not fit the law. The principles apply to everyone. The person will be prepared to act to defend these principles (laws, human rights, justice, equality) even if it means going against the rest of society. Kohlberg says very few people get to this stage.


Example of Moral Dilemma:

You are very good at swimming and you are the best swimmer on your team. One day you decide to go visit a friend across the lake but you want exercise as well, so you walk around the lake. As you are walking you see a young boy that has fell through a run-down pier. The water is cold and deep and the boy cannot swim. The boy is screaming for help. You realize there would be no danger going in the water to save him; easily succeeding if you tried. But you have your expensive clothes and valuables on you and you dont want them to get wet and cold from the water, and you dont have any time to take them off. Do you go in to save the child from drowning or do you ignore his cries and keep walking, keeping your valuables and costly clothes in tact?

Stage 1: Would not because you would be living with the fact that you didn't save that child and live with guilt for the rest of your life

Stage 2: You would be getting the self reward of saving someones life and the other person would be thankful and greatful.

Stage 3: Maybe after you did or did not save the boy your friend would think different of you in either a good way or bad way.

Stage 6: After you saved the boy, there could be a slight chance that someone else saw you do that and you could be rewarded or in the paper.

Parenting Styles

There are 4 different types of parenting styles. Authoritarian, Authoritative (Democratic), Permissive, and Uninvolved.


Authoritarian: Authoritarian parenting, also called strict parenting, is characterized by parents who are demanding but not responsive. Authoritarian parents allow for little open dialogue between parent and child and expect children to follow a strict set of rules and expectations. They usually rely on punishment to demand obedience or teach a lesson.


Democratic: Authoritative parenting is widely regarded as the most effective and beneficial parenting style for normal children. Authoritative parents are easy to recognize, as they are marked by the high expectations that they have of their children, but temper these expectations with understanding a support for their children as well. This type of parenting creates the healthiest environment for a growing child, and helps to foster a productive relationship between parent and child.


Permissive: Permissive parenting, also known as indulgent parenting is another potentially harmful style of parenting. These parents are responsive but not demanding. These parents tend to be lenient while trying to avoid confrontation. The benefit of this parenting style is that they are usually very nurturing and loving. The negatives, however, outweigh this benefit. Few rules are set for the children of permissive parents, and the rules are inconsistent when they do exist. This lack of structure causes these children to grow up with little self-discipline and self-control.


Uninvolved: This is one of the most harmful styles of parenting that can be used on a child. Uninvolved parenting is unlike the other styles in that parents rarely fluctuate naturally into uninvolved parenting as a response to child behavior. They are detached from their child's life.

Erik Eriksons Psychological theory

There are 8 different psychological stages that a human being goes throughout his/her life.


1. Trust vs. Mistrust (birth to one)

Children begin to learn the ability to trust others based upon the consistency of their caregiver(s). If trust develops successfully, the child gains confidence and security in the world around him and is able to feel secure even when threatened. Unsuccessful completion of this stage can result in an inability to trust, and therefore an sense of fear about the inconsistent world.


2. Autonomy vs. Doubt and Shame (one to two to three)

Children begin to assert their independence, by walking away from their mother, picking which toy to play with, and making choices about what they like to wear, to eat, etc. If children in this stage are encouraged and supported in their increased independence, they become more confident and secure in their own ability to survive in the world.


3. Initiative vs. Guilt (three to five or six)

Children assert themselves more frequently. They begin to plan activities, make up games, and initiate activities with others. If given this opportunity, children develop a sense of initiative, and feel secure in their ability to lead others and make decisions.


4. Industry vs. Inferiority (five to six to eleven or twelve)

Children begin to develop a sense of pride in their accomplishments. They initiate projects, see them through to completion, and feel good about what they have achieved. During this time, teachers play an increased role in the child’s development.


5. Identity vs. Role Confusion (adolescence)

The transition from childhood to adulthood is most important. Children are becoming more independent, and begin to look at the future in terms of career, relationships, families, housing, etc. During this period, they explore possibilities and begin to form their own identity based upon the outcome of their explorations.


6. Intimacy vs. Isolation (early adulthood)

They begin to share ourselves more intimately with others. They explore relationships leading toward longer term commitments with someone other than a family member. Successful completion can lead to comfortable relationships and a sense of commitment, safety, and care within a relationship. Avoiding intimacy, fearing commitment and relationships can lead to isolation, loneliness, and sometimes depression.


7. Generality vs. Self-Absorption (middle adulthood)

They establish our careers, settle down within a relationship, begin their own families and develop a sense of being a part of the bigger picture. They give back to society through raising our children, being productive at work, and becoming involved in community activities and organizations. By failing to achieve these objectives, they become stagnant and feel unproductive.


8. Integrity vs. Despair (later adulthood)

As we grow older and become senior citizens, we tend to slow down our productivity, and explore life as a retired person. It is during this time that we contemplate our accomplishments and are able to develop integrity if we see ourselves as leading a successful life. If we see our lives as unproductive, feel guilt about our pasts, or feel that we did not accomplish our life goals, we become dissatisfied with life and develop despair, often leading to depression and hopelessness.

Piagets theory of Cognitive Development

The 4 stages of Piaget's theory include Sensorimotor, Preoperational, Concrete Operational, and Formal Operational.

Sensorimotor (Birth-2 yrs): Differentiates self from objects. Recognizes self as agent of action and begins to act intentionally, like pulling a string to set mobile in motion or shakes a rattle to make a noise. Achieves object permanence.


Preoperational (2-7 years): Learns to use language and to represent objects by images and words. Thinking is still egocentric, has difficulty taking the viewpoint of others. Classifies objects by a single feature, like groups together all the red blocks regardless of shape or all the square blocks regardless of color.


Concrete Operational (7-11 years): Can think logically about objects and events. Achieves conservation of number (age 6), mass (age 7), and weight (age 9). Classifies objects according to several features and can order them in series along a single dimension such as size.


Formal Operational (11 years and up): Can think logically about abstract propositions and test hypotheses systemically. Becomes concerned with the hypothetical, the future, and ideological problems.