Current approaches in developmental psychology (1950-Present)

Current approaches in developmental psychology (1950-Present)

The great expansion of the developmental psychology it is due to multiple factors that begin to be appreciated towards the 1960s. Since that time the research centers dedicated to the study of psychological development multiply. The proliferation of specialized magazines (Developmental Psychology, Human Development, Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Developmental Review, etc.) is a fact.

Finally, the amount of published work, the proliferation of conferences and scientific meetings dedicated to psychological development or specific aspects of it. The movement charges even more energy in the 70s and 80s.

Currently, an unprecedented advance of research is taking place, which is coupled with a sensitive extension and deepening of the subjects of interest. Perhaps the distinctive sign of the new era is the massive entry of developmental psychology into the field of experimentation.

For the first time, the theories and concepts of basic or experimental psychology converge. In addition, there is a great proliferation of currents and theoretical perspectives that provide a great deal of information about human development.

Current approaches in developmental psychology (1950-Present)

The main theoretical proposals appeared in this period are succinctly presented below.

The information processing

As of the 50s, a decline in behavioral ideas began to occur and a new trend, cognitive psychology, began to appear. This is contrary to behaviorism, in the sense that it advocates the need to study unobservable mental processes.

In the context of cognitive psychology, the information processing approach arises. The appearance of this approach is due to different influences among which the theory of computing, artificial intelligence, or Chomsky's linguistic theory stand out.

Its objective is to analyze the different phases into which the processing of a certain information can be divided (e.g., input, coding, storage, recovery, decoding, response). In developmental psychology this perspective has been used fundamentally to study the evolution throughout the life cycle of different basic cognitive processes such as memory, perception or attention.

Ethology and its influence on Developmental Psychology

Around the middle of the century, other previous theories also resurface and apply to the human sphere, as is the case with ethology.

Ethology attaches great importance to those behaviors with adaptive significance for each species such as: courtship, aggression, attachment, etc.

This theory applied to development comes to say that the human being is born with a genetic programming that will develop properly if the environment It provides you with stimulation and the necessary care for it.

In the context of developmental psychology, ethology has its highest representative in John Bowlby. This author focused on the study and understanding of attachment, a process by which newborn children create an emotional bond with their caregivers.

Social learning

In the 60s, other traditions such as behaviorist were also continued with new formulations. So, authors such as Sears, Bijou, Baer and Bandura conducted research on the social learning of behaviors, approaching developmental psychology to behavioral assumptions and using new experimentation techniques with babies and children.

From these approaches it is recognized that most human behavior is modeled according to the behavior of others, and that there are various cognitive and motivational processes that influence the way in which others affect behavior.

The Neopiagetian current in Developmental Psychology

Piaget's proposal also has its continuation in this period. At this time, John Flavell begins to translate Piaget's work into English, resulting in a rediscovery of this author in the Anglo-Saxon world.

In addition, Piaget himself and his collaborators are advancing in their studies on cognitive development. Similarly, the Neopiagetian current arises in which the influences of the environment and social interaction on the development of higher mental processes are emphasized.

The life cycle current (life-span)

The current of the life cycle posed by Baltes, Reese and Nesselroade (1977) has been an important milestone in the history of developmental psychology. In fact, he has proposed the study of the processes of change in people from birth (or even from pregnancy) to the end of life.

Further, the life cycle is shown as an interactionist perspective since it proposes biological and environmental influences (both normative and non-normative) on the development of people, and takes into consideration how personal and socio-historical changes influence development (Baltes et al., 1977).

The ecological approach

This approach to human development, whose most prominent representative is Bronfrenbrenner, places the emphasis on the study of different contexts (coming as family or distal as laws) in which development occurs of the individuals. From this theory, these contexts and their influence on personal development are analyzed.


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