Human Development Essay - Part 2


Freud and Watson among other personalities have made great contribution on Human development - Human Development Essay introduction. Watson in particular brought in a natural science perspective to child psychology by introducing an objective research method basing on observable and measurable behaviors. His model was extended by skinner to cover function conditioning and verbal behavior (Hothersall, 2002). Sigmund Freud, the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology is best recognized for his theories of the defense mechanism and the unconscious mind. He is also popular for his definition of sexual desires as the central motivational energy of human kind and creating of a clinical practice of psychoanalysis for healing psychopathology. Freud analysis and ideas remain important in analysis of social behaviors as well as clinical psychodynamic approaches (Hall & Calvin, 1999). This paper evaluates interaction according to Freudian analysis between behavioral, social and cognitive analysis.

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Significance of the Study

Human development which occurs from birth to adulthood was throughout history ignored. Children were seen as small adults and very little attention was paid to the major development in their cognitive abilities, physical growth and language usage among the children (Hothersall, 2002). To determine whether human development theories are applicable an evaluation of these approaches was imperative.

Analysis of Behavioral, Social and Cognitive Theories

             Looking at the behavioral theories of human development, they often focus on how they interact with the environment. According to John B. Watson the founder of behavioral theory, external environment influence behaviors. The behavioral theory deal with only what is observable in a behavior while development is considered just a reaction to punishment, reward, stimuli and also reinforcement (Altschule, 1998).  An infant is born into a world that is so uncertain and from there it relies on parents or caregivers for reinforcement which include heat water, food and protection. Behavioral model of attachment was in line with the role uncertainty and also recognized the limitation of the child to communicate his/her needs. In a study conducted by Skinner (2001), six infants between 8 and 10 years old participated in a classical reversal design to assess the infant approach rate to a visitor. If the attention was based on visitor’s avoidance, the child presented avoidance to the visitor. But if the attention was on infant approach, the child approached the visitor.

Bowlby (1999) on the other hand believe that the child early relationship with the parent or a caregiver play very crucial role in child development. The social child development continues to influence social relationships throughout life. In his Psychoanalytic child development theories, Erik Eriksson proposed a stage theory of advancement which encompassed the whole development in the human lifespan. Every stage according to Eriksson focuses on overcoming conflicts. He suggested that to achieve or to fail to achieve against conflict can impact on overall functioning of the individual. But children think differently compared to adults. In his theory for cognitive development jean Piaget noted that children play a very active role in gaining knowledge of these world (Bowlby, 1999).


The research employed a quantitative research design by use of secondary data including electronic materials. A mathematical correlation on the data collected was examined using simple models to determine any interaction between behavioral, social and cognitive aspects the Freudian analysis of human development. An evaluation was carried out vis a vis the Freudian analysis and the outcomes presented in paragraphs.


In his psychodynamic approach to psychology Freud emphasized the influence of unconscious mind on human behaviors. Freud suggested that mind is composed of the id, the ego and the superego. The three elements according to him depict an interaction between behavioral, social and cognitive theories. The id is the personality component that works to satisfy central urges, desires and needs. On the hand the superego component of the mind and personality is what children acquire from socialization though caregivers and the society itself. Finally the unconscious mind is what continues to impact on our behaviors and experiences even though according to Freud we are always unaware of these influences (Pigman, 2004).

Today, Freud’s theories of unconscious mind, psychosexual and dream symbolism remain popular among psychologist and laypersons. Freud based most of his observations and theories on case studies and clinical cases. But most of the concepts utilized by Freud are not measurable neither are they quantifiable. Most of the critics of psychodynamic theories observe that Freud did not rely on experimental researches and therefore his findings cannot be tested. Concepts like libido are impossible to measure and hence cannot be tested. Also Freud overemphasized the childhood experiences in his psychosexual stage theories. It is difficult to know whether a current behavior is particularly caused by a childhood experience or just the prevailing situation. Still in psychosexual stage theory, Freud relied almost fully on male development with very little attention to the female development. The period between the cause and the effect is so lengthy that one cannot assume there is any relationship between the variables.

However, while most of his theories hardly relied on experimental researches, Freud’s methods contributed a lot on experimental psychology. It is from the Freud work that other theorist based expanded their theories. Eriksson for example based his social theory of personality from Freud psychodynamic theory. Eriksson’s work remains one of the most influential regarding human developments today (Pigman, 2004).

List of references

Bowlby, J. (1999). Attachment and failure: Vol I, 2nd Ed. Harvard: University Press Hall

Calvin, S. (1999). An introduction in Freudian Psychology. London: Meridian Book.

Hothersall, D. (2002). History of Psychology, 3rd ed. NY: Mcgraw-Hill

Altschule, M (1998). Beginning of Concepts in Human Behavior. New York: Wiley

Pigman, G.W. (April 2004). Freud and the psychoanalysis history. The International journal of

Psycho-analysis 76 (Pt 2): 237–56.

Skinner, B.F. (2001). Science and Human Developmental Behavior. New York: The Free Press

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