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 Lifespan Development Theories ~ Post by Dr. Teague

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Female Number of posts : 618
Age : 45
Location : The Sunshine State
Registration date : 2008-04-22

PostSubject: Lifespan Development Theories ~ Post by Dr. Teague   Mon Apr 25, 2011 7:43 am

Hey Everyone,

Theories that would be considered to be a mechanistic model view human beings as machines. The mechanistic models are structuralist models that suggest we can understand human behavior and mental process if we understand all of the component parts (Hensch,2007). It also sees individuals as passive entities who change behavior and mental processes in response to outside influences. In this model development is a continuous, gradual process.

Theories that would be considered to be an organismic model take an opposing position in each of these areas. The organismic models are holistic models that suggest organisms cannot be understood as a simple collection of parts (Hensch, 2007). In addition, in this model individuals are viewed as active entities who change behavior and mental processes under the guidance of internal forces in distinct, discontinuous stages. These would be the stage theories.

Learning theories are primarily mechanistic theories although Bandura’s social learning theory does reflect the organismic assumption that people actively influence their environment (Hensch, 2007). Psychoanalytic theories, cognitive-developmental theories, and ethological theories are
primarily organismic theories.

A third world view, known as the contextual model, has emerged. In this view development is the product of a dynamic interplay between the person and his or her environment.

That is, people and the environment are both active in the
developmental process. Also, the potential exist for both qualitative
(discontinuous) change and quantitative (continuous) change. So, the
world view is a blending of the mechanistic and organismic models.
According to Hensch (2007), the theories that come closest to adopting
this view of development are information-processing theories and
Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory.


Hensch, S.A. (2007). Instructor’s resources to accompany Shaffer, D.R. and
Kipp, K., Developmental Psychology: Childhood and Adolescence (2nd Ed).
Belmont, CA: Thompson Wadsworth.

Dr. Teague

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