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Chapter 3: Psychosocial Theory. Psychosocial Theory. Chapter Objectives To define the general concept of theory and explain how one makes use of theory to increase understanding To define the six basic concepts of psychosocial theory

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psychosocial theory
Psychosocial Theory
  • Chapter Objectives
    • To define the general concept of theory and explain how one makes use of theory to increase understanding
    • To define the six basic concepts of psychosocial theory
    • To demonstrate how the concepts of psychosocial theory contribute to an analysis of basic processes that foster or inhibit development over the life span
    • To evaluate psychosocial theory, pointing out its strengths and weaknesses
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Psychosocial Theory
  • What Is a Theory?
    • A logical system of concepts that helps explain observations and contributes to the development of a body of knowledge
    • Three questions to ask
      • Which phenomena is the theory trying to explain?
      • What assumptions does the theory make?
      • What does the theory predict?
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Psychosocial Theory
  • Theories of Human Development Should Provide Explanations to Four Questions
    • What are the mechanisms that account for growth from conception through old age, and to what extent do these mechanisms vary across the life span?
    • What factors underlie stability and change across the life span?
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Psychosocial Theory
  • Theories of Human Development Should Provide Explanations to Four Questions (cont.)
    • How do physical, cognitive, emotional, and social functions interact? How do these interactions account for mixtures of thoughts, feelings, health states, and social relationships?
    • How does the social context affect individual development?
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Psychosocial Theory
  • Rationale for Emphasizing Psychosocial Theory
    • Addresses growth across the life span, identifying and differentiating central issues from infancy to old age
    • Assumes that individuals have the capacity to contribute to their own psychological development
    • Takes into consideration the active contribution of culture to individual growth
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Psychosocial Theory
  • Basic Concepts of Psychosocial Theory
    • “Psycho” = individual
    • “Social” = societal influences
    • Therefore, Psychosocial theory represents human development as a product of the interaction between individual needs and abilities and societal expectations and demands
    • Psychosocial evolution was a term keyed by Julian Huxley and it refers to those abilities that have allowed us to gather knowledge from our ancestors and transmit it to our ascendants
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Psychosocial Theory
  • Six Organizing Concepts of Psychosocial Theory
    • Stages of Development
    • Developmental Tasks
    • Psychosocial Crisis
    • The Central Process For Resolving The Psychosocial Crisis
    • A Radiating Network of Significant Relationships
    • Coping Behavior
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Psychosocial Theory

Figure 3.4 The Six Basic Concepts of Psychosocial Theory

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Psychosocial Theory
  • Stages of Development
    • A period of life that is characterized by a specific underlying structure of each stage
    • Erikson proposed 8 stages
    • Epigenetic Principle - a biological plan for growth allows each function to emerge systematically until the individual has fully developed
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Psychosocial Theory

Figure 3.1 Erikson’s Model of the Psychosocial Stages of Development

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Psychosocial Theory

Figure 3.2 The Eleven Stages of the Life Span

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Psychosocial Theory
  • Developmental Tasks
    • A set of skills and competencies that contribute to increased mastery over one’s environment and that define what is healthy, normal development at each age in a particular society
    • Society has age-graded expectations
    • Sensitive periods: periods of development when an individual is most ready to acquire a new ability
    • Developmental tasks may reflect gains in physical, cognitive, emotional, social, and/or emotional skills and may elaborate upon self-concept
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Psychosocial Theory
  • Psychosocial Crises
    • At each stage individuals are confronted with a problem or crisis that requires the integration of personal needs and skills and social demands
    • This crisis is also called a psychosocial ego conflict
    • From these conflicts new ego skills are produced
    • These conflicts do not only occur once in a lifespan, they may reoccur in a different stage, therefore producing new ego skills
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Psychosocial Theory
  • Psychosocial Crises (cont.)
    • A crisis might have a negative connotation but in this aspect it is considered a normal set of stressors and coping strategies
    • When an individual is trying to resolve a Psychosocial crises he/she is in a state of tension
    • The crises are shown as polarities or opposites
    • Both polar ends foster development; experience with trust and mistrust lays the ground work for resolution of the psychosocial crises
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Psychosocial Theory
  • Psychosocial Crises (cont.)
    • Tension, conflict, and resolution are necessary elements for development throughout the lifespan and are a result of cultural pressures and expectations
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Psychosocial Theory
  • The Central Processes for Resolving the Psychosocial Crises
    • Social System is what Erikson called the demands exerted on a person by all elements that make-up the social world
    • Central processes link individual’s needs with the requirements of the culture at each life stage
    • Central processes for adjusting to or coping with the transitions of development throughout life provide both personal and societal mechanisms for taking in new info. and reorganizing existing information
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Psychosocial Theory
  • Radius of Significant Relationships
    • In infancy and childhood, individual’s significant relationships are with parents
    • Eventually these relationships extend beyond immediate family to include neighbors, teachers, peers, co-workers, etc.
    • Most demands made upon individuals are associated with relationships the individual considers close or significant
    • In childhood the circle of relationships is small; over the lifespan the radius of the circle expands; eventually in adulthood the radius condenses to a few significant relationships
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Psychosocial Theory
  • Radius of Significant Relationships (cont.)
    • An individual’s willingness to engage in an ever-changing network of relationships is part of the epigenetic plan
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Psychosocial Theory

Figure 3.3 The Radius of Significant Relationships

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Psychosocial Theory
  • Coping
    • Conscious, adaptive efforts that people use to manage stressful events or situations, and the emotions associated with these stressors
    • Actively coping and resolving a psychosocial crisis arises in development of a virtue or prime adaptive ego qualities
    • The development of these virtues effect development of future virtues throughout the lifespan
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Psychosocial Theory
  • Core Pathologies
    • Maladaptive coping with psychosocial crises leads to the development of core pathologies
    • Like virtues or prime adaptive ego qualities, core pathologies guide individuals behavior
    • Development of core pathologies restricts further development in life due to the negative emphasis of the world and restriction of future behaviors
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Psychosocial Theory
  • Case Study: Erik Erikson
    • Thought Questions
      • Why did Erikson feel like a ‘stranger in his own culture?”
      • What are the biological, psychological, and societal factors that contributed to Erikson’s identity crises?
      • What factors from childhood appear to be influencing his experiences as an adolescent?
      • Who are the significant figures in Erikson’s life (the radius of significant others who influence his sense of how he should behave and who he should strive to become)?
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Psychosocial Theory
  • Case Study: Erik Erikson (cont.)
    • Thought Questions (cont.)
      • What factors might have contributed to Erikson’s ability to cope with the challenges of this period of his life, eventually finding a direction and meaning to which he could commit his talent and energy?
      • Based on Erikson’s account of his childhood and adolescence, how might his life experiences and his cultural context have influenced the nature and focus of his psychosocial theory?
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Psychosocial Theory
  • A Recap of Psychosocial Theory
    • Which phenomena is the theory trying to explain?
    • What assumptions does the theory make?
    • What does the theory practice?
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Psychosocial Theory

Figure 3.6 The Mechanism for Positive and Negative Psychosocial Development