Essay on Theories of Human Development

Published: 2021/12/17
Number of words: 818

Human development invites the creations of various theories and perspectives that help understand people, their development, growth, and the physical, cognitive and psychosocial changes they experience throughout their lives. Human development is based on the principle that most things in life can only be achieved through age and experience, resulting in maturity and character development. Through scientific proof, various psychologists and scientists have developed theoretical frameworks that explain and predict individual behaviors and development. There are three significant approaches to human development; the psychosexual, psychosocial, and ecological approach

Freud’s psychosexual theory states that children’s development occurs in a series of stages related to erogenous zones. Freud suggested that parents play a critical role in managing their children’s sexual and aggressive drives during early childhood, fostering their proper development. This theory posits that human personality consists of three interworking components: the id, the ego, and the superego, which unify as children go through the five stages of psychosexual development. The id focuses on desires and impulses. The ego focuses on reasoning while the superego helps to apply morals and values from society. According to Jeffrey & Lene (2019), Freud named five stages of his theory and emphasized that the early stages were vital, and most of later development were determined by the age of 6.

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Erikson’s psychosocial theory states that human beings have to resolve various crises to become successful and complete. Erikson proposed eight stages of human development. Each stage has two conflicting ideas that must be resolved for children to develop into successful and active members in their societies (Maryville University, n.d). The conflicting ideas have two possible resolutions, a healthy and an unhealthy one. Failure to resolve the conflicts will result in the feeling of inadequacy and incompleteness (Barbara & Newman, 2015). In addition, Erikson posits that significant changes occur throughout a person’s life span, based on psychological and social aspects.

Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory states that a child develops within a complex system of relationships. They include the microsystem characterized by parent-child relationships; the mesosystem comprises the extended family, school, neighborhood; and the ecosystem, which comprises the general society and culture. Additionally, the macrosystem is characterized by socioeconomic status, poverty, ethnicity, and the chronosystem is characterized by shaping environmental aspects with life changes and sociohistorical circumstances. This theory is significant because it incorporates historical aspects as important influencers on human development (Jeffrey & Lene, 2019). Further, Bronfenbrenner posits that children and adolescents play pivotal roles in their development, not entirely dependent on external influences.

Erikson modified Freud’s psychosexual theory into an eight-stage theory of development. It means that Erikson’s theory is an advanced model of Freud’s theory. Freud’s theory is psychosexual, related to the psychological and sexuality aspects, while Erikson’s theory is psychosocial, which relates to the psychological and social aspects. Bronfenbrenner’s theory is ecological as it relates to environmental aspects. Further, Freud’s theory focuses on conscience, where a person learns the rights and wrongs through a person, a being, or a voice that gives moral lessons and advice. On the other hand,

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Erikson’s theory focuses on autonomy, where people learn how to be independent and self-sufficient. Additionally, Freud’s theory suggests that the early childhood stages are the most essential in human development. At the same time, Erikson believes that every stage in a person’s life is vital in molding their life. Compared to Erikson and Freud’s theories, Bronfenbrenner’s theory does not focus on life stages. Instead, he emphasizes numerous influences that model humans in the social environment (Jeffrey & Lene, 2019). It is also important to note that the three theories play significant roles today in the study and planning of children and adolescent’s development.

In conclusion, human development is a broad, complex process with different scientists trying to develop the most appropriate and exclusive explanation. Human development theories provide various ideas developed from scientific proof to predict and learn individual developments and behaviors. Most people experience the stages highlighted by Freud and Erikson, while Bronfenbrenner’s environmental aspect relates to most people’s lives. Regardless of the difference in their explanations, the three theories explicitly outline human development as it is. Human beings go through several stages in their life, and every stage is significant in its way. Further, early childhood experiences play a significant role in shaping our adult life, and the people and things we engage with are significant determinants of our development.


Barbara, N. M., & Newman, P. R. (2015) Theories of human development Psychology Press.

Jeffrey Jensen Arnett & Lene Arnett Jensen, (2019) Human Development: A Cultural Approach Pearson ISBN.13: 978-0-134-64134-8

Maryville University (n.d) What is Human Development and Why is it Important? Stages of Human Development: What It Is & Why It’s Important (

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