Psychology 3260: Personality & Social Development. Don Hartmann Spring 2006 Suppl. Lecture 5: Introduction to Theory. Supplemental References: Theory. Miller, P. H. (1993). Theories of developmental psychology (3 rd ed.). New York: W. H. Freeman.
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Psychology 3260: Personality & Social Development Don Hartmann Spring 2006 Suppl. Lecture 5: Introduction to Theory
Supplemental References: Theory • Miller, P. H. (1993). Theories of developmental psychology (3rd ed.). New York: W. H. Freeman. • Vasta, R. (1992). Six theories of child development: Revised formulations and current issues. Philadelphia, Jessica Kingsley Publisher.
Overview of Theory Lecture • What are theories? • What functions do they serve? • Examples involving “Dickie loves Johnnie” • Standards for evaluating theories
What are Theories? Stories (explanations) of how the facts fit together • Indicate which facts are important… • Which sorts of relationships among the facts are most important for producing understanding… • Theories give facts meaning… • “Without theory, facts remain a clutter of disorganized specks on the canvas, unconnected spots that form no picture of how and why children grow up as they do”…
A Vignette Illustrating the Value of Theory: Little Johnnie • Little Johnnie takes his fluffy, stuffed doll to bed with him, hugs and kisses it, and says "Dickie loves Johnnie" (the stuffed doll loves him).
Piaget: Dickie loves Johnnie • Important facts? Piaget has not much to say about sexual behavior or affection. Would focus on: • the child has language; • child confuses self with object • How do the facts inter‑relate? Piaget would state that actions (verbal behavior) reflects stage of thinking ‑‑ in this case, egocentric thought
Freud: Dickie loves Johnnie • Facts of interest? • Eros: affect ional and/or sexual behaviors • Same sex of agent and recipient • Interrelation? • Child distinguishes between self and others, but only incompletely (ego is not completely formed) • Evidence of projection (I don't love you; you love me), one of classic defense mechanisms • Child has not had libido suppressed by punishment for affection
Bandura: Dickie Loves Johnnie • Facts? • Object taken to bed • Affectional responses • Language use • Agent‑recipient relationship • Inter‑relate? • What has Johnnie been observing in his home ‑‑ affection (imitation) • What has Johnnie been reinforced for? Acting affectionately. • Johnnie perhaps thinks of himself as an affectionate person (self‑concept)
Evaluation of Theories: Introduction • Accurately Reflect The Facts Of The Real World Of Children • Clarity • Explain & Predict • Offer Practical Guidance • Internal Consistency • Economical • Falsifiability • Promote the Discovery of New Knowledge • Satisfying: Does it Ring True?
Accurately Reflect The Facts Of The Real World Of Children • Some problems that may trip up the accuracy of theories: • Unrepresentative sample • Over-generalized from one content area to another • Inaccurate observations
Internally Consistent • Different parts of the theory should not be able to produce inconsistent predictions. -A=-B A=B A=-B -A=B
Economical: Law of Parsimony • All other things being equal, simpler theories are to be preferred over more complicated theories. Sometimes referred to as the Law of Parsimony, Occam’s razor, or Morgan’s Cannon
Falsifiability: A Falsifiable Theory • The theory can be tested, and if wrong, can be shown to be wrong. Example of a falsifiable theory. The theory states that: • The presence of Vitamin B produces constructive child behavior: +VB+CBeh. • Corollary: The absence of Vitamin B produces negative child behavior: -VB-CBeh. • Furthermore, we can determine whether Vitamin B is present or not, and we can measure the positiveness of child behavior
Falsifiability: An unfalsifiable theory (a) • Example of an untestable and hence unfalsifiable theory. The theory states the following: • The presence of Vitamin B produces positive child behavior under circumstance A and negative child behavior under circumstance B • If A: then +VB+CBeh; • If B: then +VB-CBeh
Falsifiability: Unfalsifiable (b) The absence of Vitamin B produces the opposite effect: Negative children behavior under circumstance A and positive child behavior under circumstance B • If A: then -VB-CBeh • If B: then -VB+CBeh • Note that circumstance A is the same as in our earlier, testable theory.
Falsifiability: Unfalsifiable (c) While we: • can determine whether Vitamin B is present or not, and • we can measure the positiveness of behavior, but • we cannot determine when circumstance A or circumstance B is present.
Summary • The value of theory • Dickie & Johnnie • The characteristics of a good theory • Go in Peace!