Of the many developmental theories, I would like to describe and explain two theories, Cognitive theory and Behaviorism. The main concepts of cognitive theory focuses on the developmental process of thinking and how this process affects our actions, attitudes, beliefs and assumptions through a life span. J Piaget, a proponent of cognitive theory, developed a general thesis of cognitive theory; he divided the developmental process of thinking into four stages. He said “the way people think changes with age as their brains mature and their experiences challenge their past assumptions” (Griggs 3rd edition, 2013)”. In my opinion, we use and apply the main concepts of the cognitive theory in everyday life, such as family relationships, friendships, partnerships, and work relationships. I personally believe, I would never succeed as a person, partner, student, or later as a nurse without the main concepts of cognitive theory.
A cognitive theory example from my own personal experience and subsequently how my experiences challenged my past assumptions. As a kid, I met very few children in special needs, it was a huge stigma in the culture that I come from, where special needs children are not talked about nor are they accepted easily. During my childhood, the very few times I came across one, I never understood them and they never wanted to play with me, or my friends. Because of these experiences I assumed, and believed that kids in special needs were stupid, useless and a waste of time. After I graduated High School, I really started to think about the next steps in my life. I did not know what I wanted to do, and I did not have the required education to start a new job. Therefore, I enrolled in a college with a major in nursing. During my studies, I met many adults and kids in special needs.
They were different and “special” but they were definitely not stupid or a waste of time. After I got to know them and tried to understand their process of thinking, I finally understood them. People in special needs might be different, but they are smart in their own way, amazingly imaginative and very appreciative. Although their life is diverse and uneasy, they always are thankful for another day. They taught me to be a better person and I learned to respect them. These new experiences challenged my past assumptions and beliefs. I definitely strive to challenge the stigma created by the ignorant cultures we all come from. The second theory I would like to talk about is Behaviorism. The main concept of behaviorism is observing human behavior. It is also called a learning theory because it describes the process of learning. Behaviorism is described as a force of habit, meaning that after we learn a certain behavior we repeat it without even thinking about it.
The most known proponent of behaviorism was John Watson who believed that scientists should only examine what can be seen or measured, which in this case is a person’s behavior. (Griggs 3rd edition, 2013) Another famous behaviorist was Ivan Pavlov, the proponent of classical condition, which is another concept of behaviorism. (Griggs 3rd edition, 2013) Classical conditioning focuses on repetition and practice, which Ivan Pavlov proved in an experiment with a salivating dog. B.F. Skinner, one of the most influential psychologists believed in operational conditioning, which explains that consequences, punishment or reinforcement respond to our behavior. (Griggs 3rd edition, 2013) I have applied this theory towards my 4th grade students. They are very curious and like to see how far they can go with their behavior. Because I am against any kind of physical punishment, and of course it is forbidden to do so, in the environment I teach in, I have chosen to opt into reinforcement.
I have constructed a can and cannot do chart in our classroom and have written tasks I thought they would be able to do at their age. For every accomplished task, they receive an “awesome” sticker, and if they accumulate enough “awesome” stickers, they are rewarded with their choice of gift, picked out of a basket of goodies. This technique has a big success in my class room, I have been using it as a technique for the last 9 years as teacher and I believe that it teaches them discipline and responsibility. They are naturally competitive amongst one another and love the “goodie basket” they usually accomplish all their tasks, well in advance and neatly done. When they throw tantrums, they already know that there are consequences for their actions and behavior and a time out is followed.
As I was growing up in a small town in East Africa, I remember being the most stubborn little girls in my class, I was a tomboy, wanting to be the best at everything that was given to me, along with the successes I had there was a fairly good amount of trouble I got myself into, whether that would be at home with my parents or in a private school that I was placed in. There were times when I was disciplined at school for not doing my homework, or misbehaving in class. This brings me to my third theory that is applied to my life during my childhood; Skinner involves applying reinforcement or punishment after a behavior. (Griggs 3rd edition, 2013)
Every time I forgot my homework, or misbehaved in class all I saw was a wooden stick in the hands of my teacher, and I knew what was coming. The same thing occurred at home, I used to cause ruckus, the behavior that occurred in school also followed me at home with a letter from the teacher that used the wooden stick more often then needed at times, and one would think I would have learned my lesson after each operant conditioning applied during school. That wasn’t the case, I remember coming home some days, the moment I walked in the door and saw my father reach for his belt, I used to hide for hours, because I knew the results the moment he was done. Skinner’s Operant conditioning components were reinforced every time I messed up. Over time I learned that once a bad deed occurred, I had negative consequences and when I did just the opposite, I had positive results. My behavior changed quickly overtime knowing that I will be rewarded so long as I portrayed good behavior.
Being the only girl and the youngest of 2 older brothers, I was pampered my whole life, I remember one of many times when my mother would make our favorite milkshakes and we would get served in a glass that were all the same size, I used to get it in what I thought was a bigger glass, despite the repeated chants from my mom that all three were the same size, my brothers used to almost always complain about how I was always pampered and received bigger and better things, they both were determined that mom always poured me more, even though she did equally show us the sizes of the glasses and how it was evenly poured into our glasses. Perceptual constancy. (Notespacket, Ochman 2013) If I had to choose a theory that I like best, I would choose all of them. I believe that all theories support one another, and in my opinion, psychologist should use the main concepts of every theory to solve any kind of problem because all of these theories have their positive sides, but also negative sides.
For example, I like behaviorism because it focuses on observable behavior, but I disagree with the fact behaviorists’ ignore thoughts within mind. I also prefer cognitive theory that studies a process of thinking, and how this process affects our assumptions, beliefs, actions and attitudes, which I believe is very important, but is limited because it ignores genetic predisposition. Psychoanalytic theory is also very important because it partly focuses on the past experiences, especially childhood experiences that usually form adult personality and behavior. (Griggs 3rd edition, 2013) I just disagree with Freud’s belief that human behavior was motivated by unconscious conflicts that were almost always sexual or aggressive in nature. (Griggs 3rd edition, 2013)
Sociocultural theory focuses on culture and social factors that influence human development, but it is very limited because it ignores the rest of the factors that form and affect our development through the lifespan. Epigenetic theory focuses on genes and genetic predisposition, which is very important because genes always affect our development, but is limited because it ignores nurture issues. I would personally choose and use concepts of these theories to examine a problem and consequently find a solution to solve a problem.