Developmental Psychology Theoretical Approaches

Good Essays

Four theoretical approaches to cognitive development

Piaget’s theory

Information processing theories

Core knowledge theories

Sociocultural theories (Vygotsky)

General Themes

Nature and nurture

Continuity vs. discontinuity

Active vs passive child

Nurture (environment, learning)

John Locke (1632-1704) –Infant’s mind as “tabula rasa”

Behaviorism (e.g. Watson, Skinner)

Nurture (environment, learning)

'A child's mind is a blank book. During the first years of his life, much will be written on the pages. The quality of that writing will affect his life profoundly.‘

Walt Disney

Nature (biology, instinct)

Children, like plants, simply “bloom”, following a timetable laid out in their genes (Gesell, 1933)

“instinct is stronger than upbringing.”

--Irish proverb

How would a blank slate learn?

Word learning ‘by association’

Word learning ‘by association’

Problems with association?





state of mind

Jean Piaget (1896-1980)


Child plays an active role in achieving developmental outcomes

Stage like discontinuity


“the study of stages of intelligence is first a study of the formation of operational structures. I shall define every stage by a structure of a whole, with the possibility of its integration into succeeding stages, just as it was prepared by preceding stages...
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