Theoretical Perspectives Relevant to Developmental Psychology

4454 Words Oct 22nd, 2008 18 Pages
A discussion of the structural, information processing, and developmental dimensions approaches to the analysis of age/development/life course trends.
Developmental psychology, as a discipline, is currently undergoing a paradigmatic/world view change. Consequently, several different theoretical approaches to the study of development and the life course have been proposed and advocated. The three primary approaches currently being debated include the structural, information processing/cognitive, and life-span developmental/developmental dimensions approaches. The purpose of this paper is to examine the differences and similarities between these three broad approaches. However, this exposition would be incomplete without a discussion of the
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For example, if one were examining the basis of a computer output, one would study the initial program. One would look at each line of input data separately to determine the effect on the whole. Thus, the mechanistic world view maintains that through the study of the individual parts, the individual as a whole can be understood.

The influence of the mechanistic world view on the conceptualization of the individual in relation to developmental psychology can be described as follows: First, the individual can be conceptualized and understood only by understanding the parts which make up the whole. For example, a developmental psychologist would study a behavior or emotional response by reducing it to its most simple elements. Second the individual is described principally as a passive-reactive entity. Development does not occur from within the individual but rather is in response to external forces. Essentially, the individual is as Newton describes, a "tabula rasa"; "nothing is in the intellect which is not first in the senses" (cited in Reese & Overton, 1970). Third, change is quantitative. Changes in behavior are viewed as differences in degree as opposed to differences in kind and as such can be operationally defined and measured. Last, as individuals are reactive, passive beings, there is no overall purpose to human activity - no teleology. Thus, development and change are not directed towards some end

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