Developmental psychology/Chapter 4/Theories of Infant Psychosocial Development

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Psychoanalytic Theory[edit | edit source]

Erikson's trust vs. mistrust stage dealt with if the baby can trust their world. If their needs are given promptly, then they can trust their world. If social interaction is a method leading to trust, then they can explore their social world confidently

This theory connects biosocial and psychosocial development. There are two distinct stages that are described by both Erik and Freud, both occurring in the first 2 years separately.

Freud's theory starts off with the oral stage - coming from an infant's direct source of gratification being sucking. The next stage is the anal stage from the pleasure of releasing bowel movements. These stages are trickled in with issues from the caregivers. The oral stage's conflict may arise from the infant sucking on things that they're not supposed to (putting bottle caps in their mouths). This may lead to an oral fixation, they are stuck on the pleasures of the oral stage (eating excessively or talking a lot). When it comes to the anal stage, toilet training that begins before the toddler's ability to control their bowels well may lead to an anal personality, an adult that seeks control of themselves and requires cleanliness at all times.

Erik's theory starts off with the trust vs. mistrust stage - infants explore the safeness of their world and if they're getting their basic needs at the right time (food, attention, talking, clothing). The second stage is the autonomy vs. shame & doubt - starting out at 1.5 years, toddlers want a feeling of "ruling their own bodies and actions", missing this feeling results in shame and self-doubt. Problems in both of these stages may lead to the person having trust issues (trust vs. mistrust) or feeling ashamed of themselves (autonomy vs. shame & doubt).

Behaviorism[edit | edit source]

From a behaviorist point of view, raising a happy child will result in a bright personality - while the opposite holds water.

Toddlers also learn from their parents, from their habits of cursing to laughing a lot. Parents can teach toddlers through reinforcement and punishment, both methods which leads to patterns --> emotions and personalities of the children.

Different methods of parenting lead to two types:

  • Proximal parenting - Parenting methods that deal with being close to the baby, including physical touch.
  • Distal parenting - Parenting methods that involve a bit of distance (talking, playing with toys, teaching the babies to feed themselves).

Which one is better? Well...

Caregivers usually give a mix of both parentings. These teachings come from the caregiver's perspective on individuality vs collectiveness. Infants taught by proximal parenting methods are usually found to be obedient to their parents, but cannot recognize themselves in a mirror (lack of individuality). This study has been replicated many times and this is the popular result

Cognition[edit | edit source]

Going against the theories of psychoanalytic (buried in unconsciousness) and behaviorism (brain patterns), early experiences formulate beliefs and memories. These early experiences formulate a working model, a set of guesses that serve as a basic structure for experiences/situations. It's a work-in-progress model. For example, a child's working model may lead to insecure relationships because their parents were not consistently loving & caring (or the opposite).

An infant's early experiences aren't the main focus, it is the interpretation of those experiences (main focus = interpretations of experiences).

Some good news: since the working model is a work-in-progress, this means that someone can change the way they think. This is why cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy exists, which new thoughts on behaving are developed.

Evolutionary Theory[edit | edit source]

An African daycare, an example of allocare

When it comes to "evolution", think of "survival" and "reproducing". A child will take 20 years until their brain is fully developed.

All of an infants actions, including crying and smiling, are what they need to survive and develop. In order to ensure a stable livelihood at such a young age, they must need adult care. How do they attract adults? Their responses and actions (laughing, smiling). Their actions and looks all attract adults, who love what they see! Adaptation is also a worthy-note: adults convert to caregivers and infants into emotional "tools" all come from the sole need to survive.

The emotions of attachment by an infant (crying, jealousy, happiness) are expressed because they are able to stay with their caregivers.

In order to take care of every infant as much as possible, humans, unlike other species, implement allocare, where caregivers, who are not the biological parents to the child, come and take care of the baby.