Developmental Approach

Developmental approach to psychology and strengths and weaknesses

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Developmental Approch

The developmental approach takes a life-span approach and considers how and why we change and develop throughout our lives. It includes the development of cognitive processes such as language, and the development of social processes such as play. The developmental approach also influences the nature/nurture debate.

Assumption:

Changes occur over a person's lifetime as a result of inherited factors or lifetime experiences.

Key issues:

  • How much of a behaviour is a product of genetically determined factors (nature) and how much from experience (nurture)

Timing and plasticity of development:

  • Are there key times for certain behaviours to develop and what happens if that development is distrupted?
  • Can behaviours change and adapt or are they rigid once developed?
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Strengths

1. The approach is easy to apply to everyday life - although the stages suggested by Piaget may be hard to determine, differrent stages of development can be seen.

2. The approach is flexible as it is able to constantly change to incorporate people's development.

3. We can see the affects of maturation (aging) on behaviour - shown in the study by Samuel and Bryant as older children are able to conserve

4. We can see the effects of experience on behaviour - shown in the study by Bandura as experiences of viewing aggression can lead to aggressive behaviour.

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Weaknesses

1. Some of the research and studies is unethical - in the study by Bandura, children were shown aggressive behaviour that may affect the participants behaviour once the study had finished

2. The approach focuses mainly on childhood development (Piaget's stages of development)

3. The developmental approach suggests our behaviour is determined by our up-bringing and is less governed by our own free will - nature v nurture debate.

4. Lab studies can have low ecological validity - Bandura for example, children would rarely, if at all, be shown violent aggression towards a Bobo doll in real life.

5. Case studies are difficult to generalise - The case study of Little Hans form Freud's study is unique to the "dreams" and phobias of Hans .. these results and conclusions won't be able to be applied easily to another individual

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