Tuesday, September 18, 2012

License Exam: Human Behavior in the Social Environment (18 %)

Human Behavior in the Social Environment (18 %)

  • Microsystem: Refers to the institutions and groups that most immediately and directly impact the child's development including: the individual.
  • The FAMILY exists between these two (Micro and Mezzo) systems, as it encompasses the individual and close relatives, which forms one unit.
  • Mezzosystem: Refers to relations beyond the individual client; generally, a group of people related to the individual. E.g., school, religious institutions, neighborhood, and peers.
  • Macrosystem: Describes the culture in which individuals live. Cultural contexts include developing and industrialized countries, socioeconomic status, poverty, and ethnicity. A child, his or her parent, his or her school, and his or her parent's workplace, and different levels of government are all part of a large cultural context. Members of a cultural group share a common identity, heritage, and values. The macrosystem evolves over time, because each successive generation may change the macrosystem, leading to their development in a unique macrosystem.[1]

Theories of Development


Developmental Theories

Theories of development provide a framework for thinking about human growth, development, and learning. If you have ever wondered about what motivates human thought and behavior, understanding these theories can provide useful insight into individuals and society.



See also: Moral development, theory of identity development (Chickering), Neo-Piagetian theories of cognitive development , Cognitive development, Human development theory, Developmental stage theories, Women's development theory, Behavior analysis of child development, Psychoanalytic theory


Psychosexual/Psychodynamic Stages of Development (FREUD),

seeks pleasure through mouth (sucking, chewing)
greedy, mistrustful
pleasure from excretion (feces)
anal retentive
Oedipal/Elektra complex
  • attracted to opposite sex parent
  • jealousy of same sex parent
sexual impulses overshadowed by need to adapt to environment
drawn to authority figures, avoids relationship with opposite sex parent
puberty onward
sexual impulses become manifest and directed outward

Relational Cultural Theory / RCT (BAKER-MILLER)   GILLIGAN? 


Theory of Cognitive Development (PIAGET)

Stages of Cognitive Development 
object permanence (can keep image in mind even if not present), cause & effect awareness, imitates others’ behavior, goal-directed behavior,
Infant behavior follows this cycle: reflexive –> circular reactions –> re-creation –>means-end actions
Young Childhood
egocentricity, stable verbal & mental representations, single character/quality classification (“I have blonde hair”), symbolic function, animism, intuitive thought, magical beliefs, very simple reasoning
Middle Childhood
Concrete Operations
conservation of volume & length (reversibility), ordered characterization, uses simple logic beyond reasoning but limited to real objects, able to compare, increased attention span (necessary for formal education)
Adolescence & Young Adulthood, onward
Formal Operations
abstract and symbolic thought, able to think about one’s own thoughts, now uses reasoning skills by rules of formal logic so can compare actual to the ideal and refer to the hypothetical, systematic logic.

(Not all people go past this stage). 


Separation-Individuation theory of child development in pre-Oedipal infancy - from 0 to 3 years (MAHLER)

0-1 months

4-5 months

5-36 months

  • Differention 
  • Practicing motor skills
  • Rapproachment
  • Constancy of self and object

Early Attachment Theories (BOWLBY)

Stranger anxiety: fearful of strangers.
Separation anxiety: fear of separation from primary caregivers.
Prolonged separation results in protest, despair, and detachment.

Attachment Styles
John Bowlby developed attachment theory.  Infants become attached to adults who are sensitive and responsive in social interactions with them, and who remain as consistent caregivers for some months during the period from about six months to two years of age. When an infant begins to crawl and walk they begin to use attachment figures (familiar people) as a secure base to explore from and return to.
Parental responses lead to the development of patterns of attachment; these, in turn, lead to internal working models which will guide the individual's perceptions, emotions, thoughts and expectations in later relationships.[2] Separation anxiety or grief following the loss of an attachment figure is considered to be a normal and adaptive response for an attached infant. These behaviours may have evolved because they increase the probability of survival of the child.[3]
Infant behaviour associated with attachment is primarily the seeking of proximity to an attachment figure. To formulate a comprehensive theory of the nature of early attachments, Bowlby explored a range of fields, including evolutionary biology, object relations theory (a branch of psychoanalysis), control systems theory, and the fields of ethology and cognitive psychology.[4] 
See also attachment in children on Wikipedia and attachment theory on Psychology.About.com

Attachment Styles (AINSWORTH)

Research by developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth in the 1960s and 70s reinforced the basic concepts of Bowlby's attachment theory, introduced the concept of the "secure base" and developed a theory of a number of attachment patterns in infants: secure attachment, avoidant attachment and anxious attachment.[5]  The Strange Situation was developed to conduct research about attachment styles.

Characteristics of Secure Attachment

Mildly upset by caregiver's absence, seeks contact upon return.
  • Securely attached children exhibit distress when separated from caregivers and are happy when their caregiver returns. Remember, these children feel secure and able to depend on their adult caregivers. When the adult leaves, the child may be upset but he or she feels assured that the parent or caregiver will return.
  • When frightened, securely attached children will seek comfort from caregivers. These children know their parent or caregiver will provide comfort and reassurance, so they are comfortable seeking them out in times of need.

Characteristics of Insecure (Anxious/Ambivalent) Attachment

Disturbed when left with stranger, ambivalent to caregiver's return.
  • Ambivalently attached children usually become very distressed when a parent leaves. This attachment style is considered relatively uncommon, affecting an estimated 7-15% of U.S. children. Research suggests that ambivalent attachment is a result of poor maternal availability. These children cannot depend on their mother (or caregiver) to be there when the child is in need.

Characteristics of Avoidant Attachment

No reaction to caregiver's return. ignores her/him.
  • Children with an avoidant attachment tend to avoid parents or caregivers. When offered a choice, these children will show no preference between a caregiver and a complete stranger. Research has suggested that this attachment style might be a result of abusive or neglectful caregivers. Children who are punished for relying on a caregiver will learn to avoid seeking help in the future.
Characteristics of Disorganized/Disoriented Attachment

Fearful of caregivers, confused facial expressions, often have been mistreated.
  • By Mary Main[4] , child may cry during separation but avoid the mother when she returns or may approach the mother, then freeze or fall to the floor, or rocking to and fro or repeatedly hitting themselves. Main and Hesse[6] found that most of the mothers had suffered major losses or trauma before or after the birth and had reacted by becoming severely depressed.[5] 

Stages of psychosocial development (ERIKSON)

Basic Conflict
Important Events
0-2Infancy Trust vs. Mistrust Feeding Children develop a sense of trust when caregivers provide reliabilty, care, and affection. A lack of this will lead to mistrust.
Early Childhood
Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt Toilet Training Children need to develop a sense of personal control over physical skills and a sense of independence. Success leads to feelings of autonomy, failure results in feelings of shame and doubt.
Initiative vs. Guilt Exploration Children need to begin asserting control and power over the environment. Success in this stage leads to a sense of purpose. Children who try to exert too much power experience disapproval, resulting in a sense of guilt.
School Age
Industry vs. Inferiority School starts Children need to cope with new social and academic demands. Success leads to a sense of competence, while failure results in feelings of inferiority.
Identity vs. Role Confusion Social Relationships Teens need to develop a sense of self and personal identity. Success leads to an ability to stay true to yourself, while failure leads to role confusion and a weak sense of self.
Young Adulthood
Intimacy vs. Isolation Relationships Young adults need to form intimate, loving relationships with other people. Success leads to strong relationships, while failure results in loneliness and isolation.
Middle Adulthood
Generativity vs. Stagnation Work and Parenthood Adults need to create or nurture things that will outlast them, often by having children or creating a positive change that benefits other people. Success leads to feelings of usefulness and accomplishment, while failure results in shallow involvement in the world.
Ego Integrity vs. Despair Retirement and Reflection on Life Older adults need to look back on life and feel a sense of fulfillment. Success at this stage leads to feelings of wisdom, while failure results in regret, bitterness, and despair.

  Conflict Theory

  • Draws attention to conflict, dominance, and oppression in social
  • life.
  • Groups and individuals try to advance their own interests over the interests of
  • others.
  • Power is unequally divided, and some social groups dominate others.
  • Social order is based on the manipulation and control of nondominant groups
  • by dominant groups.
  • Lack of open conflict is a sign of exploitation.
  • Social change is driven by conflict, with periods of change interrupting long
  • periods of stability.

Note: Social workers use this theory to understand clients who are experiencing
oppression in some form or another in our capitalist society.

Stages of moral development (KOHLBERG)


Ecological theory of development (GIBSON)

Gibson asserted that development was driven by a complex interaction between environmentalaffordances and the motivated humans who perceive them. For example, to an infant, different surfaces "afford" opportunities for walking, crawling, grasping, etc. As children gain motor skills, they discover new opportunities for movement and thus new affordances.[3] The more chances they are given to perceive and interact with their environment, the more affordances they discover, and the more accurate their perceptions become.
Gibson identified four important aspects of human behavior that develop:[4]
  • Agency- self-control, intentionality in behavior
    • Agency is learning to control both one's own activity and external events
    • Babies learn at an early age that their actions have an effect on the environment
    • For example: Babies were observed kicking their legs at a mobile hanging above them. They had discovered their kicking made the mobile move.
  • Prospectivity- intentional, anticipatory, planful, future-oriented behaviors
    • For example: A baby will reach out to try and catch an object moving toward them because the baby can anticipate that the object will continue to move close enough to catch. In other words, the baby perceives that reaching out his/her hand will afford him/her to catch the object.
  • Search for Order- tendency to see order, regularity, and pattern to make sense of the world
    • For example: Before 9 months, infants begin to recognize the strong-weak stress patterns in their native language
  • Flexibility- perception can adjust to new situations and bodily conditions (such as growth, improved motor skills, or a sprained ankle)
    • Examples: Three-month-old infants laying under a mobile had a string attached to their right leg and then to the mobile so that when they moved their leg the mobile would move. When the string was switched to the left legs, the infants would easily shift to moving that leg to activate the mobile.
    • Perception is an on-going, active process.



Stages of ego development (LOEVINGER)

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