Why is it important to have theories that are biologically based, environmentally based and emphasizing the interaction between

person and environment?
a) Thoughtfully describe and discuss why it is important to have theories that are biologically based, theories that are environmentally based, and theories that emphasize the interaction between person and environment. How does having these various perspectives add to our understanding of human development? b) Upon reviewing all the theories we have covered this quarter, which one fits best with your own worldview and why? c) Using the theory you cited as the one that fits best, give specific examples of how it can be related to everyday experiences (either personal ones that you have had or have observed.)

Theories of Human Development give us points of reference to explain what we observe and how we understand the human process. They can help us find sources of behavior and trends, and account for the path that individuals follow, whether these can be called paths of growth or lack of progress. All theories have something valuable to help in our understanding of human development; they are most useful in combination than they are alone. I consider some might be more useful than others in certain aspects, but none of them would be an all-encompassing one that would help us take a holistic view. Even those considered to cover the biological and environmental sides in human processes lack the explanation that others provide in a step-by-step process. We first come to the world with certain unique basic or predetermined features, based on our genetic, evolutionary legacy. This includes our necessary and adaptive psychological and “physical structures, cognitive functions, and sensory capacities that allow [us] to find a mate, reproduce, and rear [our] young to reproductive age” (Newman & Newman p. 16.) For instance, we can see men and women with different features and patterns of behavior, which we now know come from a biological basis even before birth. From ancient times, human evolution has been exhibited certain evolutionary features that have become more and more complex. Generation after generation our brains, our bones, our genes, have been changing, and with these changes our biology is dictating our limits and potentials. Our traits can only be propagated and reproduced if we survive. In order to survive, we have to adjust to our environment and this in turn implies that these biological features have been selected for future reproductions. If we consider the biological basis then this follows that these


This is insufficient to explain all the features involved in our makeup. by the environment in which we live. we cannot deny that we are highly influenced day after day. and our environment can affect our biological structure. In addition. The question remains how much each of these is taking place in each of us. While we cannot remain blind to the biological aspect of our human makeup. Some examples are the way in which we reacted and learned to adjust to our surroundings – our parents and family. all of these are realities that we must consider while growing up. Our biology can affect our social behavior. We must take into account the genetic heredity and the way we grow up with our caregivers because they are our first sources providing the foundations for maturation. With all of the biological foundation we have when we come to this world. our thinking changes with what we learn from our experiences and the quality of our relationships. in turn. What percentage of our biological makeup and what percentage of our environmental makeup take place in our behavior? It is important that we emphasize the interaction between person and environment because they both take part in our human composition. Just as we can say that any individual is composed of everything 2 . “Environmental factors produce differences in individual thought and behavior. the whole is more than the sum o its parts. our peers. But our environment changes our biological set too. each individual needs to have the necessary environmental input. we cannot deny that environmental aspects play a great part.features are universal since they are part of the evolutionary process moving forward in due course. they shape expectations. 122) Nevertheless. and institutions in which we interact and make relationships. This background is only partial and it is blended with how we interact in our surroundings. shape individual goals and actions” (Newman & Newman p. As the Dynamic Systems Theory suggests. in order for our biological potential to develop normally. Every event we experience has an effect on our biological setup: our neural connections are reinforced. which. Our biological inheritance is not the whole story. none of this by itself can be the sole cause-determining factor in our behavior and do not help us explain our human development in its totality. our body is shaped by our activities and by what we eat. As the authors of our textbook emphasize.

their collective personalities and behaviors. Within each “organism”. Evolutionary Theory provides us with a view of our motivation and mental processes that have survived for generations and remind us of our adaptable features that may be perfected. In my view each of these theories has something valuable and. and what each of these features tells us about ourselves. and understand them differently. Every piece in our psychological or behavioral 3 . I value the attachment theory. etc. and unconscious behaviors. biology. society is more than the sum of its people. we learn the study of conscious. but depending on our development and the new environments we encounter throughout our lives. even with all of its flaws. From this theory. which is a useful tool to learn about relationships and continuity in behavior. and from there we can take what we need from other theories when one of them does not fit with the developmental purpose in turn. their environments. their relationships. I would prefer to use them in combination. of inconstancy. motives.related to the self concept: personality and behavior. their trends and legacies. This is important to take into account when we have to consider that we are more than a bunch of organs working in tune. From this theory. it is hard to separate any part from the whole because any one of those parts are said to be only a piece of the organism – a combination of its totality. we look back at our previous experiences. their history.. Additionally. is something that all these theories share. the person’s environment. We have internal motives and insights of which we are not always aware. and our internal organs work automatically. This is one example in which to realize we are much more than we can perceive tangibly. again. Just as it is in any other area in the human process so it is in science. or when we are tempted to see our ecological background as the most relevant learning and the basic cause of behavior. We experience our environment in one way. their belief systems. we can only build upon that what has been built already. The feature of change. Our mind works. preconscious. in the same way. cognition. Psychosexual Theory reminds us that we have inherent drives with which we have to deal all of our lives and we have to learn self-control. I cannot separate or assign all of the values to just one of them. see them with a different perspective. it was important that the Psychosexual Theory emerged from a medical basis and triggered further study of the human being.

In this way of studying human development. 182). but we have to see the shadows in between. So. and this opens bridges for further learning and possibilities of thinking. We cannot think in black or white terms only. I would like to point out the importance of considering the combination from the perspective of nature and nurture together. 204). With learning. Another valuable tool to understand human development is Psychosocial Theory by Erikson. If we cannot do much to change most of our biological background from the time of conception and up to the point of our current existence. Cognitive Developmental Theory is a strong means for the study of the child’s cognition. the psychosocial stages of 4 . I would say we could salvage from the theory how we are predetermined to mature cognitively in a certain evolutionary process if we are given appropriate ways to develop this potential. When we narrow our focus.development does its part to help us see further into more advanced ways of learning and thinking and behaving. It helps explain part of our identity and our ability to combine “multiple roles” (p. Even if precisely Piaget’s ideas of stages have been criticized. Similarly. if there is something we can change and open our perspective in our social surroundings and behaviors. This process helps us mature and further modify our neurological paths and our brain over and over with experience. Life Course Theory is useful in giving us an expanded view of the “larger social environment” and the “historical contexts” in our development (p. It also gives us some view on important transitions in our lives. This helps us consider the intergenerational baggage and ancient legacy of a particular point in history. Each is important and we seem to lose perspective every time we fail to account for the wider panorama. that is why this theory is highly relevant to understand and further our human development. Social Role Theory is important in providing us with the social changes we experience as the most social beings on earth. as compared with the Cognitive Development Theory I think much can be done from the perspective of Learning Theories. it starts with learning. we can still do much in this area to cause change in our environment and in turn influence part of our biological makeup. we modify the way we act and think. our understanding becomes limited and thus incomplete. From an individual perspective. Learning Theories. and the value of taking into account that we are prone to develop in some type of phases that are maturational.

and we have to consider this in our position in history. This is not only useful for individuals. each of them has at least something particular to offer which would be missing if we were to stick to only one of them. 280). This is an ongoing “opportunity for learning and development”. I can understand that human individuals are born with certain predispositions that are influenced by the environment in which we live. From my view. With the Evolutionary Theory. these particular tools work together and are valuable in helping me understand human development. we also need to account for our social roles and other relationships. They are all valuable. in our particular culture. tasks. the origins of our mental processes.development are a good measurement tool for understanding human needs and processes we go through. and the development of cognition. our ancestors developed critical ways of adaptation to the environment in which they lived at their time. thus adaptation could take place. Again. and all this integrated in the interactive work when we consider their complexity. none of these theories would suffice to fit in my own worldview. areas in which we can make learning levels more reachable. 265). These 5 . Thus. the human species evolved. They give us focus and anchor points of reference for our different mindsets and maturational development. By this means. Eons of years of natural selection had to pass by for this to take place. Dynamic Systems Theory is very comprehensive and adds awareness and inclusiveness to the various biological and socio-cultural processes. it is also very adaptable to different “instructional strategies. which helped us to change our mindsets and information processes to find solutions. but most importantly. mental processes were evolving. but for whole organizations and societies. Finally. this puts in place the analogy of the building blocks. Cognitive Social-Historical Theory is also a practical tool with the zone of proximal development. This theory even accounts for new changes emerging from the dynamic interaction of these changes and in their attempt to equilibrate in an organized manner. Taken separately. We need to understand our biological evolution. the current features of our human makeup were selected. which Lewis called self-organization (p. For example. and cultural values and contexts for learning” (p. They need to complement each other in order to account for the different areas in our human development. Similarly.

To understand that a child is behind in comparison with other children of his/her age. With the Psychosexual Theory. we might need to discard exact age groups and recognize how much this measurement is limited to school children and the specific ways of testing cognition. I learned that his feelings of anger or even aggressiveness towards a family member had an ancient projection of his fear resulting from his parent’s abandonment in childhood. and that his parents share certain features of Asperger’s Syndrome. when most children are already making important progress in that area. I was able to extend and understand unconscious behavior by scrutinizing the background of another person in a counseling session. if I realize that this particular child is growing up in California’s Silicon Valley. The way in which some street children perceive this strange world and the new relationships they had in their earliest years explain how ready they are to interact socially in a way that is characteristic of humans. Life Course Theory would be useful here. However. Unfortunately.basic features allowed us to survive. this pattern is many times repeated with children of their own. I might be on the right track to suspect that the 6 . Notwithstanding. With the use of Learning Theories. many of the abilities in thinking can be taken as points of reference to measure the development of mind maturation. I could help the same child to improve his/her speech by stimulating practice and reinforcing this behavior every time the child tries to speak. I can also understand this behavior in a historical context. I can now understand certain inner drives I felt when I was younger and less given to rationalize. Many times. they had no stable support and attachment to their parents. he could understand where his anger came from. and they are not able to form relationships strong enough. For example. through Psychosexual Theory. which would help me identify why a 2-3 year old child is consistently behind in school and lagging in speech maturation. In Cognitive Developmental Theory. and he was able to derive from different pieces of knowledge in order to understand his different behaviors at play in the whole context – the previous while being a child and an adult. Sometimes we do not know why we behave in some way or another in a particular event. An example of this adaptation is the quality of our attachment in relationships. Then. we can take as a reference Piaget’s Stages of Development.

human development is complex and it is constructed through “active. and to successfully relate to his society by taking societal roles (considering the Social Role Theory) that will give him satisfaction and a feeling of successful integration in society. and this theory has helped me understand these facts when considered in combination. follow closely the direction of his progress.S. goal-oriented efforts of the actor in conjunction with the supportive structure of the physical and social contexts” (p. Characteristics and Causes").000 in the 1960’s and 1970’s. In brief. which reminds me that the child is an individual living in society and that the particular environment in time and place is relevant. Whether his parents take advantage of the networks of social support. 282). the whole is not only much more than the sum of its parts. It would depend on how many of the symptoms this child is able to solve in order to continue normally in his developmental tasks of the Psychosocial Stages of Development. This fact would tell me that there are also some social trends involved. At this particular stage in his life. This seems to be the case of a close relative. the level of involvement of his parents is critical. consider the stability of the family. and the effects that he and the cases of other children have accomplished over time in their environmental context – all of these will work interactively for the outcome. the availability of specialized services. Yet. As Dynamic Systems Theory proposes.speech problems in this child are coming from some identifiable symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome or autism. in part. an expression of the person… the environment is integrated into the person and guides action” (Newman & Newman p. “a person's environment is. In other words. who shows most of the features related to Asperger’s Syndrome. 7 . (“Autism Link to ‘geek Genes’”). it is an organism in itself composed of other organisms. Centers for Disease Control for autism ("Autism Statistics. to one in 110 in 2009 children as reported by U. all of which work together in the formation of each individual. it might help this child overcome some of his symptoms by using the zone of proximal development of the Cognitive Social-Historical Theory. 208). This can be possible by understanding his limitations and helping him make some steps towards solving his speech problem – little by little and steadily. And if I see the trend of children with autism has been in steadily growing from five cases per 10.

05 Dec. Autism Treatments.com/autism-statistics.WORKS CITED "Autism Link to 'geek Genes'" BBC News World Edition | Health. Print. 05 Dec. Web. Web.co. Autism Society of America." Child Behavior Help. Characteristics and Causes. New Jersey: Psychology Press. Theories of Human Development. 2009. Newman. 20 Nov..stm>. <http://www. 2010. "Autism Statistics.uk/2/hi/health/2192611. and Philip R. ADHD in Children.html>. <http://news. Barbara M. 14 Aug. BBC News. 2010. Ed.child-behavior-guide. 2009.bbc. Newman. 2002. 8 .

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