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Lisa's son Jack had always been a handful.

Even as a preschooler, he would tear through the house like a tornado, shouting, roughhousing,
and climbing the furniture. No toy or activity ever held his interest for more than a few minutes and he would often dart off without
warning, seemingly unaware of the dangers of a busy street or a crowded mall.
It was exhausting to parent Jack, but Lisa hadn't been too concerned back then. Boys will be boys, she figured. But at age 8, he was no easier
to handle. It was a struggle to get Jack to settle down long enough to complete even the simplest tasks, from chores to homework. When his
teacher's comments about his inattention and disruptive behavior in class became too frequent to ignore, Lisa took Jack to the doctor, who
recommended an evaluation for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
ADHD is a common behavioral disorder that affects about 10% of school-age children. Boys are about three times more likely than girls to
be diagnosed with it, though it's not yet understood why.
Kids with ADHD act without thinking, are hyperactive, and have trouble focusing. They may understand what's expected of them but have
trouble following through because they can't sit still, pay attention, or focus on details.
Of course, all kids (especially younger ones) act this way at times, particularly when they're anxious or excited. But the difference with
ADHD is that symptoms are present over a longer period of time and happen in different settings. They hurt a child's ability to function
socially, academically, and at home.
The good news is that with proper treatment, kids with ADHD can learn to successfully live with and manage their symptoms.


ADHD used to be known as attention deficit disorder, or ADD. In1994, it was renamed ADHD and broken down into three subtypes,
each with its own pattern of behaviors:
1. an inattentive type, with signs that include:

trouble paying attention to details or a tendency to make careless errors in schoolwork or other activities

difficulty staying focused on tasks or play activities

apparent listening problems

difficulty following instructions

problems with organization

avoidance or dislike of tasks that require mental effort

tendency to lose things like toys, notebooks, or homework


forgetfulness in daily activities

2. a hyperactive-impulsive type, with signs that include:

fidgeting or squirming

difficulty remaining seated

excessive running or climbing

difficulty playing quietly

always seeming to be "on the go"

excessive talking

blurting out answers before hearing the full question

difficulty waiting for a turn or in line

problems with interrupting or intruding

3. a combined type, a combination of the other two type, is the most common
Although it can be challenging to raise kids with ADHD, it'simportant to remember they aren't "bad," "acting out," or being
difficult on purpose. And they have difficulty controlling their behavior without medicine or behavioral therapy.
Because there's no test that can detect ADHD, a diagnosis depends on a complete evaluation. Many kids with ADHD are evaluated and
treated by primary care doctors, including pediatricians and family practitioners, but may be referred to specialists like psychiatrists,
psychologists, or neurologists. These specialists can help if the diagnosis is in doubt, or if there are other concerns, such as
Tourette syndrome, a learning disability, anxiety, or depression.
To be considered for a diagnosis of ADHD:

a child must display behaviors from one of the three subtypes before age 12
these behaviors must be more severe than in other kids the same age
the behaviors must last for at least 6 months
the behaviors must happen in and negatively affect at least two areas of a child's life (such as school, home, childcare settings,
or friendships)
The behaviors also must not only be linked to stress at home. Kids who have experienced a divorce, a move, an illness, a change in
school, or other significant life event may suddenly begin to act out or become forgetful. To avoid a misdiagnosis, it's important to
consider whether these factors played a role when symptoms began.
First, your child's doctor may do a physical examination and take a medical history that includes questions about any concerns and
symptoms, your child's past health, your family's health, any medicines your child is taking, any allergies your child has, and other issues.
The doctor also may check hearing and vision so other medical conditions can be ruled out. Because some emotional conditions
(such as extreme stress, depression, and anxiety) can look like ADHD, you'll probably fill out questionnaires to help rule them out.
You'll be asked many questions about your child's development and behaviors at home, school, and among friends. Other adults who
see your child regularly (like teachers, who are often the first to notice ADHD symptoms) probably will be consulted, too. An
educational evaluation, which usually includes a school psychologist, might be done. It's important for everyone involved to
be as honest and thorough as possible about your child's strengths and weaknesses.

Causes of ADHD
ADHD is not caused by poor parenting, too much sugar, or vaccines.
ADHD has biological origins that aren't yet clearly understood. No single cause has been identified, but researchers are exploring a
number of possible genetic and environmental links. Studies have shown that many kids with ADHD have a close relative who also
has the disorder.
Although experts are unsure whether this is a cause of the disorder,they have found that certain areas of the brain are about 5% to 10%
smaller in size and activity in kids with ADHD. Chemical changes in the brain also have been found.
Research also links smoking during pregnancy to later ADHD in a child. Other risk factors may include premature delivery, very low
birth weight, and injuries to the brain at birth.
Some studies have even suggested a link between excessive early television watching and future attention problems. Parents should
follow the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) guidelines, which
say that children under 2 years old should not have any "screentime" (TV, DVDs, videos, computers, or video games) and that kids 2 years
and older should be limited to 1 to 2 hours per day, or less, of quality television programming.
Related Problems
One of the difficulties in diagnosing ADHD is that it's often found
along with other problems. These are called coexisting conditions,and about two thirds of kids with ADHD have one. The most
common coexisting conditions are:
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and Conduct Disorder(CD)
At least 40% of kids with ADHD also have oppositional defiant disorder, which is characterized by stubbornness, outbursts of
temper, and acts of defiance and rule breaking. Conduct disorder is similar but features more severe hostility and aggression. Kids who
have conduct disorder are more likely to get in trouble with authority figures and, later, possibly with the law. Oppositional
defiant disorder and conduct disorder are seen most commonly withthe hyperactive and combined subtypes of ADHD.
Mood Disorders
About 20% of kids with ADHD also experience depression. They
may feel isolated, frustrated by school failures and social problems,and have low self-esteem. About 15% to 20% of kids with ADHD
also have bipolar disorder, which involves rapidly changing moods, irritability, and aggression.
Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders affect about 30% of kids with ADHD. Symptoms include excessive worry, fear, or panic, which can lead to physical
symptoms such as a racing heart, sweating, stomach pains, and diarrhea. Other forms of anxiety that can accompany ADHD are obsessivecompulsive disorder and Tourette syndrome, as well as motor or vocal tics (movements or sounds that are repeated over
and over). A child who has symptoms of these other conditions should be evaluated by a specialist.
Learning Disabilities
About half of all kids with ADHD also have a specific learning disability. The most common learning problems affect reading
(dyslexia) and handwriting. Although ADHD isn't categorized as a learning disability, its effects on concentration and attention can
make it even harder for kids to do well in school.
If your child has ADHD and a coexisting condition, the doctor will carefully consider that when developing a treatment plan. Some
treatments are better than others at addressing specific combinations of symptoms.
Treating ADHD
ADHD can't be cured, but it can be successfully managed. Your child's doctor will work with you to develop an individualized, long-term
plan. The goal is to help your child learn to control his or her own behavior and to help families create an atmosphere in which this is most
likely to happen.
In most cases, ADHD is best treated with a combination of medicine and behavior therapy. Any good treatment plan will include close
follow-up and monitoring, and your doctor might make changes along the way. Because it's important for parents to actively participate in
their child's treatment plan, parent education is also an important part of ADHD management.
Sometimes the symptoms of ADHD become less severe as a person grows older. Hyperactivity tends to ease as kids become young adults,
although the problems with organization and attention often remain. More than half of kids who have ADHD will continue to have
symptoms as young adults.
Several different types of medicines can be used to treat ADHD:

Stimulants are the best-known treatments they've been used for more than 50 years in the treatment of ADHD. Some require
several doses per day, each lasting about 4 hours; some last up to 12 hours. Possible side effects include decreased appetite,
stomachache, irritability, and insomnia. There's currently no evidence of long-term side effects.
Non-stimulants represent a good alternative to stimulants or are sometimes used along with a stimulant to treat ADHD. The
first non-stimulant was approved for treating ADHD in 2003. They may have fewer side effects than stimulants and can last up to 24
Anti-depressants are sometimes a treatment option; however, in 2004 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a
warning that these drugs may lead to a rare increased risk of suicide in children and teens. If an antidepressant is recommended for
your child, be sure to discuss this risk with your doctor.

Medicines can affect kids differently, and a child may respond well to one but not another. When finding the correct treatment, the doctor
might try a few medicines in various doses, especially if your child is being treated for ADHD along with another disorder.
Behavioral Therapy
Research has shown that medications used to help curb impulsive behavior and attention difficulties are more effective when combined with
behavioral therapy.
This therapy attempts to change behavior patterns by:

reorganizing a child's home and school environment

giving clear directions and commands
setting up a system of consistent rewards for appropriate behaviors and negative consequences for inappropriate ones

Here are examples of behavioral strategies that may help a child with ADHD:

Create a routine. Try to follow the same schedule every day, from wake-up time to bedtime. Post the schedule in a prominent
place, so your child can see what's expected throughout the day and when it's time for homework, play, and chores.
Get organized. Put schoolbags, clothing, and toys in the same place every day so your child will be less likely to lose them.
Avoid distractions. Turn off the TV, radio, cellphones, and computers, especially when your child is doing homework.
Limit choices. Offer a choice between two things (this outfit, meal, toy, etc., or that one) so that your child isn't overwhelmed and
Change your interactions with your child. Instead of long-winded explanations and nagging, use clear, brief directions to
remind your child of responsibilities.
Use goals and rewards. Use a chart to list goals and track positive behaviors, then reward your child's efforts. Be sure the goals
are realistic (think baby steps rather than overnight success).
Discipline effectively. Instead of yelling or spanking, use time-outs or loss of privileges as consequences for inappropriate
behavior. Younger kids may simply need to be distracted or ignored until they display better behavior.
Help your child discover a talent. All kids need to have successes to feel good about themselves. Finding out what your child
does well whether it's sports, art, or music can boost social skills and self-esteem.

Alternative Treatments
The only ADHD therapies proven effective in scientific studies so far are medicines and behavioral therapy. But your doctor may
recommend additional treatments and interventions based on your child's symptoms and needs. Some kids with ADHD, for
example, might need special educational interventions such as tutoring and occupational therapy. Every child's needs are different.
Other alternative therapies promoted and tried by parents include megavitamins, diet changes, allergy treatments, chiropractic
treatment, attention training, visual training, and traditional one-on-one "talking" psychotherapy. However, scientific research has
not found these treatments to be effective, and most have not been studied carefully, if at all.
Parents should always be wary of any therapy that promises an ADHD "cure." If you're interested in trying something new, speak
with your doctor first.

ADHD in the Classroom

As your child's most important advocate, you should become familiar with your child's medical, legal, and educational rights.
Kids with ADHD are eligible for special services or accommodations at school under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act
(IDEA) and an anti-discrimination law known as Section 504. Keep in touch with teachers and school officials to monitor your child's
In addition to using routines and a clear system of rewards, here are some other tips to share with teachers for classroom success:

Avoid seating distractions. This might be as simple as seating your child near the teacher instead of near a window.
Use a homework folder for parent-teacher communications. The teacher can include assignments and progress notes,
and you can check to make sure all work is completed on time.
Break down assignments. Keep instructions clear and brief, breaking down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces.
Give positive reinforcement. Always be on the lookout for positive behaviors. Ask the teacher to offer praise when your child
stays seated, doesn't call out, or waits his or her turn.
Teach good study skills. Underlining, note taking, and reading out loud can help your child stay focused and retain
Supervise. Check that your child goes and comes from school with the correct books and materials. Sometimes kids are paired
with a buddy to help them stay on track.
Be sensitive to self-esteem issues. Ask the teacher to give feedback to your child in private and avoid asking your child to
perform a task in public that might be too difficult.
Involve the school counselor or psychologist. He or she can help design behavioral programs to address specific problems
in the classroom.

Supporting Your Child, Yourself

Parenting a child with ADHD often brings special challenges. Kids with ADHD may not respond well to typical parenting practices. Also,
because ADHD tends to run in families, parents may also have some problems with organization and consistency and need active coaching
to help learn these skills.
Experts recommend parent education and support groups to help family members accept the diagnosis and to teach them how to help kids
organize their environment, develop problem-solving skills, and cope with frustrations. Training also can teach parents to respond to a
child's most trying behaviors with calm disciplining techniques. Individual or family counseling also can be helpful.

By learning as much as you can about ADHD and building partnerships with others involved in your child's care, you'll be a stronger
advocate for your child. Take advantage of all the support and education that's available, and you'll help steer your child toward success.
What are Behavioural Disorders (Disruptive, Impulse-Control, and Conduct Disorders)?
There are several types of behavioural disorders, including,

oppositional defiant disorder

conduct disorder
intermittent explosive disorder
pyromania and others

These disorders affect the way a child or youth acts or behaves. Some people think a child or youth with a behavioural disorder is bad and
may even blame a parent for their childs behaviour. But these disorders are real problems that affect many children and youth. Fortunately,
there are many different treatments and things to try at home.
What is normal behaviour?
Its normal for children and youth to act out from time to time. They may seem grumpy or angry when theyre tired, upset or feeling a lot of
stress. Its also normal for children and youth to act out more than usual during certain times in their life. Preschool-aged children and teens
in particular may seem keen to disobey or talk back. This is a normal part of growing up.

How do I know if my child has a Disruptive, Impulse-Control, and Conduct Disorder?

Oppositional Defiant Disorder
The signs of oppositional defiant disorder include very angry and negative behaviours that:

last for a long time

happen often
cause a lot of problems in the child or youths life

With this disorder, a child or youth may often:

be angry and irritable

argue with parents, teachers and other adults
be mean, hurtful, spiteful or vindictive

You can usually see signs of oppositional defiant disorder before a child is eight years old. It starts slowly and gradually. Parents may notice
the signs at home first, but the disorder may start to affect other parts of the child or youths life, such as school. This disorder does not
usually start after the early teenage years.
The length of time that symptoms last is different for everyone. Many children and youth recover, but some may go on to develop conduct
disorder or another mental health disorder.
About 1% to 11% of children and youth have oppositional defiant disorder. Before puberty, more boys than girls have the disorder. After
puberty, its more equal between boys and girls.
Conduct Disorder
The signs of conduct disorder include behaviours that go against rules or other peoples rights and:

last for a long time

happen often
cause a lot of problems in the child or youths life

With this disorder, a child or youth may often:

be aggressive towards other people or animals - bullying, starting fights, hurting others, using a weapon
harm someones property on purpose
tell major lies - to get something or avoid responsibilities
steal - break into a house or car, or steal something thats important to someone
break serious rules - run away from home or skip school a lot

Conduct disorder usually happens between the ages of 6 and 15.

Most symptoms lessen or go away by the time the child or youth becomes an adult. But some may develop an adult form of the disorder
called antisocial personality disorder. Conduct disorder can go along with substance use problems, and lead to problems with the law. It is
important to watch for warning signs and find help early.
Studies on conduct disorders find that it affects from 2% to more than 10% of children and youth. Its more common in boys than girls.

What causes Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorder?

Risk factors include:

differences in brain chemistry
abuse or neglect
seeing or experiencing violence
family problems

Intermittent Explosive Disorder

This disorder is diagnosed in children who are at least six years old. These children and youth have repeated angry outbursts that are out of
proportion to the situation and are not planned. These children and youth are aggressive in words and actions, damage things and property,
and hurt animals and people.
Kleptomania is a disorder of stealing objects and may start at different ages. Children and youth with kleptomania struggle to resist
impulses to steal things that they do not need.
Pyromania involves setting fire repeatedly and on purpose, without a reason such as gaining money.
What mental health problems go along with Disruptive, Impulse-Control, and Conduct Disorders?
About half of children living with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) also have a disruptive, impulse-control, and conduct
disorder. Other challenges or disorders that may go along with an oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder include:

mood disorders like depression or bipolar disorder

anxiety disorders

problems that affect reading, writing or math skills

problems that affect a child or youths ability to express themselves by talking or writing

problems with alcohol or other drugs

What can be done?
The earlier children and youth receive treatment, the sooner they can feel better and rebuild their relationships with others.
The main treatments for oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder are:

skills training
changes at home
changes at school if the behaviour affects schoolwork a lot
treatment for other mental health challenges or disorders. Treating ADHD often ends problems with oppositional defiant disorder.

A type of talk therapy called cognitive-behavioural therapy may help boost healthy ways of thinking. Family counselling may help the entire
family work together.
Skills training for children and youth
It often helps children and youth cope with strong feelings and get along with others if they learn how to:

manage anger
problem solve
be with other people

Skills training for parents or caregivers

This training helps parents or caregivers to learn skills and feel more confident to:

deal with anger

be consistent
discipline effectively
work with their child to solve problems that work for everyone

Changes at home

dont set too many rules. Focus on the most important, and work with your child to establish those rules.
offer choices to give children a sense of control

keep a regular routine, and make sure to spend time with your child
take a time out when you start to get angry. This also teaches the child a more positive way to deal with frustration and anger.
set reasonable limits and make sure the consequences are the same every time
congratulate good behaviours like flexibility and cooperation
try to limit the number of aggressive playmates around your child, and increase positive contacts with other children

Changes at school
The classroom teacher may suggest changes and bring in other staff members like a counsellor to help manage the child or youths
behaviour problems. If the behaviour problems are extremely bad, the parents and school may decide on an Individual Education Plan
(IEP). These plans let the school make bigger changes to help a child. They also set goals for the child to reach. Their plan may be linked
with other mental health services outside the school, like a social worker or mental health professional.
Healthy Living

regular physical activity

good sleep habits
o limit TV, video games and computer time before bedtime
o try relaxing activities - quiet music, reading
o same bedtime every nighteven on weekends, holidays and vacations
o a comfortable bedroom: dark, quiet and not too warm or cool
o no caffeine later in the day; its in some soft drinks and snacks
healthy eating Canadas Food Guide has information on healthy eating in different languages
healthy thinking skills are an important part of cognitive-behavioural therapy. Your doctor or mental health professional can also
suggest self-help books or websites.

Take care of yourself

talk to a counsellor or therapist to help work through your own thoughts and feelings
learn a few different ways to calm yourself
spend time doing something you enjoy, away from your child
think of each new day as a fresh start - try not to keep thinking about past behaviours

Erik Erikson
Erik Erikson (1950, 1963) does not talk about psychosexual Stages, he discusses psychosocial stages.
His ideas though were greatly influenced by Freud, going along with Freuds (1923) theory regarding the structure and topography of
However, whereas Freud was an id psychologist, Erikson was an ego psychologist. He emphasized the role of culture and society and the
conflicts that can take place within the ego itself, whereas Freud emphasized the conflict between the id and the superego.
According to Erikson, the ego develops as it successfully resolves crises that are distinctly social in nature. These involve establishing a sense
of trust in others, developing a sense of identity in society, and helping the next generation prepare for the future.
Erikson extends on Freudian thoughts by focusing on the adaptive and creative characteristic of the ego, and expanding the notion of the
stages of personality development to include the entire lifespan.
Erikson proposed a lifespan model of development, taking in five stages up to the age of 18 years and three further stages beyond, well into
adulthood. Erikson suggests that there is still plenty of room for continued growth and development throughout ones life. Erikson put a
great deal of emphasis on the adolescent period, feeling it was a crucial stage for developing a persons identity.
Like Freud and many others, Erik Erikson maintained that personality develops in a predetermined order, and builds upon each previous
stage. This is called the epigenic principle.
The outcome of this 'maturation timetable' is a wide and integrated set of life skills and abilities that function together within the
autonomous individual. However, instead of focusing on sexual development (like Freud), he was interested in how children socialize and
how this affects their sense of self.

Psychosocial Stages
Eriksons (1959) theory of psychosocial development has eight distinct stages.
Like Freud, Erikson assumes that a crises occurs at each stage of development. For Erikson (1963), these crises are of a psychosocial nature
because they involve psychological needs of the individual (i.e. psycho) conflicting with the needs of society (i.e. social).

According to the theory, successful completion of each stage results in a healthy personality and the acquisition of basic virtues. Basic
virtues are characteristic strengths which the ego can use to resolve subsequent crises.
Failure to successfully complete a stage can result in a reduced ability to complete further stages and therefore a more unhealthy personality
and sense of self. These stages, however, can be resolved successfully at a later time.
1. Trust vs. Mistrust
Is the world a safe place or is it full of unpredictable events and accidents waiting to happen?
Erikson's first psychosocial crisis occurs during the first year or so of life (like Freud's oral stage of psychosexual development). The crisis is
one of trust vs. mistrust.
During this stage the infant is uncertain about the world in which they live. To resolve these feelings of uncertainty the infant looks towards
their primary caregiver for stability and consistency of care.
If the care the infant receives is consistent, predictable and reliable they will develop a sense of trust which will carry with them to other
relationships, and they will be able to feel secure even when threatened.
Success in this stage will lead to the virtue of hope. By developing a sense of trust, the infant can have hope that as new crises arise, there is
a real possibility that other people will be there are a source of support. Failing to acquire the virtue of hope will lead to the development of
For example, if the care has been harsh or inconsistent, unpredictable and unreliable then the infant will develop a sense of mistrust and
will not have confidence in the world around them or in their abilities to influence events.
This infant will carry the basic sense of mistrust with them to other relationships. It may result in anxiety, heightened insecurities, and an
over feeling of mistrust in the world around them.
Consistent with Erikson's views on the importance of trust, research byBowlby and Ainsworth has outlined how the quality of early
experience ofattachment can effect relationships with others in later life.
2. Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt
The child is developing physically and becoming more mobile. Between the ages of 18 months and three, children begin to assert their
independence, by walking away from their mother, picking which toy to play with, and making choices about what they like to wear, to eat,
The child is discovering that he or she has many skills and abilities, such as putting on clothes and shoes, playing with toys etc. Such skills
illustrate the child's growing sense of independence and autonomy. Erikson states it is critical that parents allow their children to explore
the limits of their abilities within an encouraging environment which is tolerant of failure.
For example, rather than put on a child's clothes a supportive parent should have the patience to allow the child to try until they succeed or
ask for assistance.
So, the parents need to encourage the child to becoming more independent whilst at the same time protecting the child so that constant
failure is avoided.
A delicate balance is required from the parent .... they must try not to do everything for the child but if the child fails at a particular task they
must not criticize the child for failures and accidents (particularly when toilet training). The aim has to be self control without a loss of selfesteem (Gross, 1992). Success in this stage will lead to the virtue of will.
If children in this stage are encouraged and supported in their increased independence, they become more confident and secure in their own
ability to survive in the world.
If children are criticized, overly controlled, or not given the opportunity to assert themselves, they begin to feel inadequate in their ability to
survive, and may then become overly dependent upon others, lack self-esteem, and feel a sense of shame or doubt in their own abilities.
3. Initiative vs. Guilt
Around age three and continuing to age five, children assert themselves more frequently. These are particularly lively, rapid-developing
years in a childs life. According to Bee (1992) it is a time of vigor of action and of behaviors that the parents may see as aggressive".
During this period the primary feature involves the child regularly interacting with other children at school. Central to this stage is play, as it
provides children with the opportunity to explore their interpersonal skills through initiating activities.
Children begin to plan activities, make up games, and initiate activities with others. If given this opportunity, children develop a sense of
initiative, and feel secure in their ability to lead others and make decisions.
Conversely, if this tendency is squelched, either through criticism or control, children develop a sense of guilt. They may feel like a nuisance
to others and will therefore remain followers, lacking in self-initiative.
The child takes initiatives which the parents will often try to stop in order to protect the child. The child will often overstep the mark in his
forcefulness and the danger is that the parents will tend to punish the child and restrict his initiatives too much.

It is at this stage that the child will begin to ask many questions as his thirst for knowledge grows. If the parents treat the childs questions as
trivial, a nuisance or embarrassing or other aspects of their behavior as threatening then the child may have feelings of guilt for being a
Too much guilt can make the child slow to interact with others and may inhibit their creativity. Some guilt is, of course, necessary otherwise
the child would not know how to exercise self control or have a conscience.
A healthy balance between initiative and guilt is important. Success in this stage will lead to the virtue of purpose.
4. Industry (competence) vs. Inferiority
Children are at the stage (aged 5 to 12 yrs) where they will be learning to read and write, to do sums, to make things on their own. Teachers
begin to take an important role in the childs life as they teach the child specific skills.
It is at this stage that the childs peer group will gain greater significance and will become a major source of the childs self esteem. The child
now feels the need to win approval by demonstrating specific competencies that are valued by society, and begin to develop a sense of pride
in their accomplishments.
If children are encouraged and reinforced for their initiative, they begin to feel industrious and feel confident in their ability to achieve goals.
If this initiative is not encouraged, if it is restricted by parents or teacher, then the child begins to feel inferior, doubting his own abilities
and therefore may not reach his or her potential.
If the child cannot develop the specific skill they feel society is demanding (e.g. being athletic) then they may develop a sense of inferiority.
Some failure may be necessary so that the child can develop some modesty. Yet again, a balance between competence and modesty is
necessary. Success in this stage will lead to the virtue of competence.
5. Identity vs. Role Confusion
During adolescence (age 12 to 18 yrs), the transition from childhood to adulthood is most important. Children are becoming more
independent, and begin to look at the future in terms of career, relationships, families, housing, etc. The individual wants to belong to a
society and fit in.
This is a major stage in development where the child has to learn the roles he will occupy as an adult. It is during this stage that the
adolescent will re-examine his identity and try to find out exactly who he or she is. Erikson suggests that two identities are involved: the
sexual and the occupational.
According to Bee (1992), what should happen at the end of this stage is a reintegrated sense of self, of what one wants to do or be, and of
ones appropriate sex role. During this stage the body image of the adolescent changes.
Erikson claims that the adolescent may feel uncomfortable about their body for a while until they can adapt and grow into the changes.
Success in this stage will lead to the virtue of fidelity.
Fidelity involves being able to commit one's self to others on the basis of accepting others even when there may be ideological differences.
During this period, they explore possibilities and begin to form their own identity based upon the outcome of their explorations. Failure to
establish a sense of identity within society ("I dont know what I want to be when I grow up") can lead to role confusion. Role confusion
involves the individual not being sure about themselves or their place in society.
In response to role confusion or identity crisis an adolescent may begin to experiment with different lifestyles (e.g. work, education or
political activities). Also pressuring someone into an identity can result in rebellion in the form of establishing a negative identity, and in
addition to this feelings of unhappiness.
6. Intimacy vs. Isolation
Occurring in young adulthood (ages 18 to 40 yrs), we begin to share ourselves more intimately with others. We explore relationships leading
toward longer term commitments with someone other than a family member.
Successful completion of this stage can lead to comfortable relationships and a sense of commitment, safety, and care within a relationship.
Avoiding intimacy, fearing commitment and relationships can lead to isolation, loneliness, and sometimes depression. Success in this stage
will lead to the virtue of love.
7. Generativity vs. Stagnation
During middle adulthood (ages 40 to 65 yrs), we establish our careers, settle down within a relationship, begin our own families and develop
a sense of being a part of the bigger picture.
We give back to society through raising our children, being productive at work, and becoming involved in community activities and
By failing to achieve these objectives, we become stagnant and feel unproductive. Success in this stage will lead to the virtue of care.
8. Ego Integrity vs. Despair
As we grow older (65+ yrs) and become senior citizens, we tend to slow down our productivity, and explore life as a retired person. It is
during this time that we contemplate our accomplishments and are able to develop integrity if we see ourselves as leading a successful life.
Erik Erikson believed if we see our lives as unproductive, feel guilt about our past, or feel that we did not accomplish our life goals, we
become dissatisfied with life and develop despair, often leading to depression and hopelessness.
Success in this stage will lead to the virtue of wisdom. Wisdom enables a person to look back on their life with a sense of closure and
completeness, and also accept death without fear.
Critical Evaluation
Erikson is rather vague about the causes of development. What kinds of experiences must people have in order to successfully resolve
various psychosocial conflicts and move from one stage to another? The theory does not have a universal mechanism for crisis resolution.
Indeed, Erikson (1964) acknowledges his theory is more a descriptive overview of human social and emotional development that does not
adequately explain how or why this development occurs. For example, Erikson does not explicitly explain how the outcome of one
psychosocial stages influence personality at a later stage.
One of the strengths of Erikson's theory is it ability to tie together important psychosocial development across the entire lifespan.
Although support for Erikson's stages of personality development exists (McAdams, 1999), critics of his theory provide evidence suggesting
a lack of discrete stages of personality development (McCrae & Costa, 1997).
Id, Ego and Superego
Perhaps Freud's single most enduring and important idea was that the human
psyche (personality) has more than one aspect. Freud (1923) saw the psyche
structured into three parts (i.e. tripartite), the id, ego and superego, all developing at
different stages in our lives.
These are systems, not parts of the brain, or in any way physical.

The id (or it)

The id is the primitive and instinctive component of personality. It consists of all the inherited (i.e. biological) components of personality,
including the sex (life) instinct Eros (which contains the libido), and the aggressive (death) instinct - Thanatos.
The id is the impulsive (and unconscious) part of our psyche which responds directly and immediately to the instincts. The personality of
the newborn child is all id and only later does it develop an ego and super-ego.
The id demands immediate satisfaction and when this happens we experience pleasure, when it is denied we experience unpleasure or
pain. The id is not affected by reality, logic or the everyday world.
On the contrary, it operates on the pleasure principle (Freud, 1920) which is the idea that every wishful
impulse should be satisfied immediately, regardless of the consequences.
The id engages in primary process thinking, which is primitive illogical, irrational, and fantasy oriented.
The Ego (or I)
Initially the ego is 'that part of the id which has been modified by the direct influence of the external
world' (Freud 1923).
The ego develops in order to mediate between the unrealistic id and the external real world. It is the
decision making component of personality. Ideally the ego works by reason whereas the id is chaotic and
totally unreasonable.
The ego operates according to the reality principle, working out realistic ways of satisfying the ids
demands, often compromising or postponing satisfaction to avoid negative consequences of society. The
ego considers social realities and norms, etiquette and rules in deciding how to behave.
Like the id, the ego seeks pleasure and avoids pain but unlike the id the ego is concerned with devising a
realistic strategy to obtain pleasure. Freud made the analogy of the id being a horse while the ego is the
rider. The ego is 'like a man on horseback, who has to hold in check the superior strength of the horse' (Freud, 1923, p.15).
Often the ego is weak relative to the head-strong id and the best the ego can do is stay on, pointing the id in the right direction and claiming
some credit at the end as if the action were its own.
The ego has no concept of right or wrong; something is good simply if it achieves its end of satisfying without causing harm to itself or to the
id. It engages in secondary process thinking, which is rational, realistic, and orientated towards problem solving.
The Superego (or above I)
The superego incorporates the values and morals of society which are learned from one's parents and others. It develops around the age of 3
5 during the phallic stage of psychosexual development.
The superego's function is to control the id's impulses, especially those which society forbids, such as sex and aggression. It also has the
function of persuading the ego to turn to moralistic goals rather than simply realistic ones and to strive for perfection.
The superego consists of two systems: The conscience and the ideal self. The conscience can punish the ego through causing feelings of
guilt. For example, if the ego gives in to the id's demands, the superego may make the person feel bad through guilt.
The ideal self (or ego-ideal) is an imaginary picture of how you ought to be, and represents career aspirations, how to treat other people, and
how to behave as a member of society.
Behavior which falls short of the ideal self may be punished by the superego through guilt. The super-ego can also reward us through the
ideal self when we behave properly by making us feel proud.
If a persons ideal self is too high a standard, then whatever the person does will represent failure. The ideal self and conscience are largely
determined in childhood from parental values and how you were brought up.

Psychosexual Stages
Freud (1905) proposed that psychological development in childhood takes place in a series of fixed stages.
These are called psychosexual stages because each stage represents the fixation of libido (roughly translated as sexual drives or instincts) on
a different area of the body. As a person grows physically certain areas of their body become important as sources of potential frustration
(erogenous zones), pleasure or both.
Freud believed that life was built round tension and pleasure. Freud also believed that all tension was due to the build up of libido (sexual
energy) and that all pleasure came from its discharge.
In describing human personality development as psychosexual Freud meant to convey that what develops is the way in which sexual energy
accumulates and is discharged as we mature biologically. (NB Freud used the term 'sexual' in a very general way to mean all pleasurable
actions and thoughts).
Freud stressed that the first five years of life are crucial to the formation of adult personality. The id must be controlled in order to satisfy
social demands; this sets up a conflict between frustrated wishes and social norms.
The ego and superego develop in order to exercise this control and direct the need for gratification into socially acceptable channels.
Gratification centers of different areas of the body at different stages of growth, making the conflict at each stage psychosexual.
The Role of Conflict
Each of the psychosexual stages is associated with a particular conflict that must be resolved before the individual can successfully advance
to the next stage. The resolution of each of these conflicts requires the expenditure of sexual energy and the more energy that is expended at
a particular stage the more the important characteristics of that stage remain with the individual as he/she matures psychologically.
To explain this Freud suggested the analogy of military troops on the march. As the troops advance they are met by opposition or conflict.
If they are highly successful in winning the battle (resolving the conflict) then most of the troops (libido) will be able to move on to the next
battle (stage).
But the greater the difficulty encountered at any particular point the greater the need for troops to remain behind to fight and thus the fewer
that will be able to go on to the next confrontation.
Frustration, Overindulgence and Fixation
Some people do not seem to be able to leave one stage and proceed on to the next. One reason for this may be that the needs of the
developing individual at any particular stage may not have been adequately met in which case there is frustration. Or possibly the person's
needs may have been so well satisfied that he/she is reluctant to leave the psychological benefits of a particular stage in which there is
Both frustration and overindulgence (or any combination of the two) may lead to what psychoanalysts call fixation at a particular
psychosexual stage.
Fixation refers to the theoretical notion that a portion of the individual's libido has been permanently 'invested' in a particular stage of his
development. It is assumed that some libido is permanently invested in each psychosexual stage and thus each person will behave in some
ways that are characteristic of infancy, or early childhood.
Psychosexual Stages of Development

You can remember the order of these stages by using the mnemonic: old (oral) age (anal) pensioners (phallic) love (latent) grapes (genital).
Oral Stage (0-1 year)
In the first stage of personality development the libido is centered in a
baby's mouth. It gets much satisfaction from putting all sorts of things in
its mouth to satisfy the libido, and thus its id demands. Which at this
stage in life are oral, or mouth orientated, such as sucking, biting, and
Freud said oral stimulation could lead to an oral fixation in later life. We
see oral personalities all around us such as smokers, nail-biters, fingerchewers, and thumb suckers. Oral personalities engage in such oral
behaviors particularly when under stress.
Anal Stage (1-3 years)
The libido now becomes focused on the anus and the child derives great
pleasure from defecating. The child is now fully aware that they are a
person in their own right and that their wishes can bring them into conflict with the demands of the outside world (i.e. their ego has
Freud believed that this type of conflict tends to come to a head in potty training, in which adults impose restrictions on when and where the
child can defecate. The nature of this first conflict with authority can determine the child's future relationship with all forms of authority.
Early or harsh potty training can lead to the child becoming an anal-retentive personality who hates mess, is obsessively tidy, punctual and
respectful of authority. They can be stubborn and tight-fisted with their cash and possessions. This is all related to pleasure got from
holding on to their feces when toddlers, and their mum's then insisting that they get rid of it by placing them on the potty until they
Not as daft as it sounds. The anal expulsive, on the other hand, underwent a liberal toilet-training regime during the anal stage. In
adulthood the anal expulsive is the person who wants to share things with you. They like giving things away. In essence they are 'sharing
their s**t'!' An anal-expulsive personality is also messy, disorganized and rebellious.
Phallic Stage (3 to 5 or 6 years)
Sensitivity now becomes concentrated in the genitals and masturbation (in both sexes) becomes a new source of pleasure. The child
becomes aware of anatomical sex differences, which sets in motion the conflict between erotic attraction, resentment, rivalry, jealousy and
fear which Freud called the Oedipus complex (in boys) and the Electra complex (in girls). This is resolved through the process of
identification, which involves the child adopting the characteristics of the same sex parent.
Oedipus Complex
The most important aspect of the phallic stage is the Oedipus complex. This is one of Freud's most controversial ideas and one that many
people reject outright.
The name of the Oedipus complex derives from Greek myth where Oedipus, a young man, kills his father and marries his mother. Upon
discovering this he pokes his eyes out and becomes blind. This Oedipal is the generic (i.e. general) term for both Oedipus and Electra
In the young boy, the Oedipus complex or more correctly conflict, arises because the boy develops sexual (pleasurable) desires for his
mother. He wants to possess his mother exclusively and get rid of his father to enable him to do so. Irrationally, the boy thinks that if his
father were to find out about all this, his father would take away what he loves the most. During the phallic stage what the boy loves most is
his penis. Hence the boy develops castration anxiety.
The little boy then sets out to resolve this problem by imitating, copying and joining in masculine dad-type behaviors. This is called
identification, and is how the three-to-five year old boy resolves his Oedipus complex. Identification means internally adopting the values,
attitudes and behaviors of another person. The consequence of this is that the boy takes on the male gender role, and adopts an ego ideal
and values that become the superego.
Freud (1909) offered the Little Hans case study as evidence for the oedipus complex.
Electra Complex
For girls, the Oedipus or Electra complex is less than satisfactory. Briefly, the girl desires the father, but realizes that she does not have a
penis. This leads to the development of penis envy and the wish to be a boy.
The girl resolves this by repressing her desire for her father and substituting the wish for a penis with the wish for a baby. The girl blames
her mother for her 'castrated state' and this creates great tension. The girl then represses her feelings (to remove the tension) and identifies
with the mother to take on the female gender role.
Latency Stage (5 or 6 to puberty)
No further psychosexual development takes place during this stage (latent means hidden). The libido is dormant. Freud thought that most
sexual impulses are repressed during the latent stage and sexual energy can be sublimated (re: defense mechanisms) towards school work,
hobbies and friendships. Much of the child's energies are channeled into developing new skills and acquiring new knowledge and play
becomes largely confined to other children of the same gender.
Genital Stage (puberty to adult)
This is the last stage of Freud's psychosexual theory of personality development and begins in puberty. It is a time of adolescent sexual
experimentation, the successful resolution of which is settling down in a loving one-to-one relationship with another person in our 20's.
Sexual instinct is directed to heterosexual pleasure, rather than self pleasure like during the phallic stage.
For Freud, the proper outlet of the sexual instinct in adults was through heterosexual intercourse. Fixation and conflict may prevent this
with the consequence that sexual perversions may develop. For example, fixation at the oral stage may result in a person gaining sexual
pleasure primarily from kissing and oral sex, rather than sexual intercourse.
The Unconscious Mind
Freud (1900, 1905) developed a topographical model of the mind, whereby he described the features of minds structure and function.
In this model the conscious mind (everything we are aware of) is seen as the tip of the iceberg, with the unconscious mind a repository of a
cauldron of primitive wishes and impulse kept at bay and mediated by the preconscious area.
However, Freud found that some events and desires were often too frightening or painful for his patients to acknowledge. Freud believed
such information was locked away in a region he called the unconscious mind. This happens through the process of repression.
Sigmund Freud emphasized the importance of the unconscious mind, and a primary assumption of Freudian theory is that the unconscious
mind governs behavior to a greater degree than people suspect. Indeed, the goal of psychoanalysis is to make the unconscious conscious.

The Psyche

Freud (1923) later developed a more structural model of the mind comprising the entities
id, ego and superego (what Freud called the psychic apparatus). These are not physical
areas within the brain, but rather hypothetical conceptualizations of important mental
Freud assumed the id operated at an unconscious level according to the pleasure principle.
The id comprises two kinds of biological instincts (or drives) which Freud called Eros and
Eros, or life instinct, helps the individual to survive; it directs life-sustaining activities
such as respiration, eating and sex (Freud, 1925). The energy created by the life instincts is

known as libido.
In contrast, Thanatos or death instinct, is viewed as a set of destructive forces present in all human beings (Freud, 1920). When this energy
is directed outward onto others, it is expressed as aggression and violence. Freud believed that Eros is stronger than Thanatos, thus enabling
people to survive rather than self-destruct.
The ego develops from the id during infancy. The egos goal is to satisfy the demands of the id in a safe a socially acceptable way. In contrast
to the id the ego follows the reality principle as it operates in both the conscious and unconscious mind.
The superego develops during early childhood (when the child identifies with the same sex parent) and is responsible for ensuring moral
standards are followed. The superego operates on the morality principle and motivates us to behave in a socially responsible and acceptable
The superego can make a person feel guilty if rules are not followed. When there is conflict between the goals of the id and superego the ego
must act as a referee and mediate this conflict. The ego can deploy various defense mechanisms (Freud, 1894, 1896) to prevent it from
becoming overwhelmed by anxiety.

Psychodynamic Approach
If you know very little about psychology, and you have heard of just one psychologist, the chances are that this is Sigmund Freud, the
founder of the psychodynamic approach to psychology and psychoanalysis.
If Freud represents your layperson's idea of psychology then you probably have an image of a patient lying on a couch talking about their
deepest and darkest secrets.
In deliberate contrast tobehavioral psychology, psychodynamic psychology ignores the trappings of science and instead focuses on trying to
get 'inside the head' of individuals in order to make sense of their relationships, experiences and how they see the world.
The psychodynamic approach includes all the theories in psychology that see human functioning based upon the interaction of drives and
forces within the person, particularly unconscious, and between the different structures of the personality.
Freuds psychoanalysis was the original psychodynamic theory, but the psychodynamic approach as a whole includes all theories that were
based on his ideas, e.g. Jung (1964), Adler (1927) and Erikson(1950).
The words psychodynamic andpsychoanalytic are often confused. Remember that Freuds theories were psychoanalytic, whereas the term
psychodynamic refers to both his theories and those of his followers. Freuds psychoanalysis is both a theory and a therapy.
Sigmund Freud (writing between the 1890s and the 1930s) developed a collection of theories which have formed the basis of the
psychodynamic approach to psychology. His theories are clinically derived - i.e. based on what his patients told him during therapy. The
psychodynamic therapist would usually be treating the patient for depression or anxiety related disorders.
Psychodynamic Approach Assumptions
* Our behavior and feelings are powerfully affected by unconscious motives.
* Our behavior and feelings as adults (including psychological problems) are rooted in our childhood experiences.
* All behavior has a cause (usually unconscious), even slips of the tongue. Therefore all behavior is determined.
* Personality is made up of three parts (i.e. tripartite): the id, ego and super-ego.
* Behavior is motivated by two instinctual drives: Eros (the sex drive & life instinct) and Thanatos (the aggressive drive & death instinct).
Both these drives come from the id.
* Parts of the unconscious mind (the id and superego) are in constant conflict with the conscious part of the mind (the ego). This conflict
creates anxiety, which could be dealt with by the egos use of defence mechanisms.
* Personality is shaped as the drives are modified by different conflicts at different times in childhood (during psychosexual development).
History of The Psychodynamic Approach
* Anna O a patient of Dr. Joseph Breuer (Freud's mentor and friend) from 1800 to 1882 suffered from hysteria.
* In 1895 Breuer and his assistant, Sigmund Freud, wrote a book, Studies on Hysteria. In it they explained their theory: Every hysteria is the
result of a traumatic experience, one that cannot be integrated into the person's understanding of the world. The publication establishes
Freud as the father of psychoanalysis.
* By 1896 Freud had found the key to his own system, naming itpsychoanalysis. In it he had replaced hypnosis with "free association."
* In 1900 Freud published his first major work, The Interpretation of Dreams, which established the importance of psychoanalytical
* In 1902 Freud founded the Psychological Wednesday Society, later transformed into the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. As the
organization grew, Freud established an inner circle of devoted followers, the so-called "Committee" (including Sndor Ferenczi, and Hanns
Sachs (standing) Otto Rank, Karl Abraham, Max Eitingon, and Ernest Jones).
* Freud and his colleagues came to Massachusetts in 1909 to lecture on their new methods
of understanding mental illness. Those in attendance included some of the country's most
important intellectual figures, such as William James, Franz Boas, and Adolf Meyer.
* In the years following the visit to the United States, the International Psychoanalytic
Association was founded. Freud designated Carl Jung as his successor to lead the
Association, and chapters were created in major cities in Europe and elsewhere. Regular
meetings or congresses were held to discuss the theory, therapy, and cultural applications
of the new discipline.
* Jung's (1907) study on schizophrenia, The Psychology of Dementia Praecox, led him into
collaboration with Sigmund Freud.
* Jung's close collaboration with Freud lasted until 1913. Jung had become increasingly
critical of Freud's exclusively sexual definition of libido and incest. The publication of Jung's Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido (known
in English as The Psychology of the Unconscious) ted to a final break.
* Following his emergence from this period of crisis, Jung developed his own theories systematically under the name of Analytical
Psychology. Jung's concepts of the collective unconscious and of the archetypes led him to explore religion in the East and West, myths,
alchemy, and later flying saucers.

* Anna Freud (Freud's daughter) became a major force in British psychology, specializing in the application of psychoanalysis to children.
Among her best known works is The Ego and the Mechanism of defense(1936).

Jean Piaget
Jean Piaget (1896 - 1980) was employed at the Binet Institute in the 1920s, where his job was to develop French versions of questions on
English intelligence tests.
He became intrigued with the reasons children gave for their wrong answers on the questions that required logical thinking. He believed
that these incorrect answers revealed important differences between the thinking of adults and children.
Piaget (1936) was the first psychologist to make a systematic study of cognitive development. His contributions include a theory of cognitive
child development, detailed observational studies of cognition in children, and a series of simple but ingenious tests to reveal different
cognitive abilities.
Before Piagets work, the common assumption in psychology was that children are merely less competent thinkers than adults. Piaget
showed that young children think in strikingly different ways compared to adults.
According to Piaget, children are born with a very basic mental structure (genetically inherited and evolved) on which all subsequent
learning and knowledge is based.
Piaget's Theory Differs From Others In Several Ways:
o It is concerned with children, rather than all learners.
o It focuses on development, rather than learning per se, so it does not address learning of information or specific behaviors.
o It proposes discrete stages of development, marked by qualitative differences, rather than a gradual increase in number and complexity of
behaviors, concepts, ideas, etc.
The goal of the theory is to explain the mechanisms and processes by which the infant, and then the child, develops into an individual who
can reason and think using hypotheses.
To Piaget, cognitive development was a progressive reorganization of mental processes as a result of biological maturation and
environmental experience. Children construct an understanding of the world around them, then experience discrepancies between what
they already know and what they discover in their environment.
There Are Three Basic Components To Piaget's Cognitive Theory:
1. Schemas
(building blocks of knowledge).
2. Adaptation processes that enable the transition from one stage to another (equilibrium,assimilation and accommodation).
3. Stages of Development:
concrete operational,
formal operational.
Piaget (1952) defined a schema as 'a cohesive, repeatable action sequence possessing component actions that are tightly interconnected
and governed by a core meaning'.
In more simple terms Piaget called the schema the basic building block of intelligent behavior a way of organizing knowledge. Indeed, it is
useful to think of schemas as units of knowledge, each relating to one aspect of the world, including objects, actions and abstract (i.e.
theoretical) concepts.
Wadsworth (2004) suggests that schemata (the plural of schema) be though of as 'index cards' filed in the brain, each one telling an
individual how to react to incoming stimuli or information.
When Piaget talked about the development of a person's mental processes, he was referring to increases in the number and complexity of
the schemata that a person had learned.
When a child's existing schemas are capable of explaining what it can perceive around it, it is said to be in a state of equilibrium, i.e. a state
of cognitive (i.e. mental) balance.
Piaget emphasized the importance of schemas in cognitive development, and described how they were developed or acquired. A schema can
be defined as a set of linked mental representations of the world, which we use both to understand and to respond to situations. The
assumption is that we store these mental representations and apply them when needed.
For example, a person might have a schema about buying a meal in a restaurant. The schema is a stored form of the pattern of behavior
which includes looking at a menu, ordering food, eating it and paying the bill. This is an example of a type of schema called a 'script'.
Whenever they are in a restaurant, they retrieve this schema from memory and apply it to the situation.
The schemas Piaget described tend to be simpler than this - especially those used by infants. He described how - as a child gets older - his or
her schemas become more numerous and elaborate.
The illustration (above) demonstrates a child developing a schema for a dog by assimilating information about the dog. The child then sees a
cat, using accommodation compares existing knowledge of a dog to form a schema of a cat. Animation created by Daurice Grossniklaus
and Bob Rodes (03/2002).
Piaget believed that newborn babies have a small number of innate schemas - even before they have had much opportunity to experience the
world. These neonatal schemas are the cognitive structures underlying innate reflexes. These reflexes are genetically programmed into us.
For example babies have a sucking reflex, which is triggered by something touching the baby's lips. A baby will suck a nipple, a comforter
(dummy), or a person's finger. Piaget therefore assumed that the baby has a 'sucking schema'.
Similarly the grasping reflex which is elicited when something touches the palm of a baby's hand, or the rooting reflex, in which a baby will
turn its head towards something which touches its cheek, were assumed to result operations: for example shaking a rattle would be the
combination of two schemas, grasping and shaking.
Assimilation and Accommodation
Jean Piaget (1952; see also Wadsworth, 2004) viewed intellectual growth as a process of adaptation (adjustment) to the world. This
happens through:


Which is using an existing schema to deal with a new object or situation.


This happens when the existing schema (knowledge) does not work, and needs to be changed to deal with a new object or situation.


This is the force which moves development along. Piaget believed that cognitive development did not progress at a steady rate, but rather
in leaps and bounds.
Equilibrium occurs when a child's schemas can deal with most new information through assimilation. However, an unpleasant state of
disequilibrium occurs when new information cannot be fitted into existing schemas (assimilation).
Equilibration is the force which drives the learning process as we do not like to be frustrated and will seek to restore balance by mastering
the new challenge (accommodation).
Once the new information is acquired the process of assimilation with the new schema will continue until the next time we need to make an
adjustment to it.
Example of Assimilation
A 2 year old child sees a man who is bald on top of his head and has long frizzy hair on the sides. To
his fathers horror, the toddler shouts Clown, clown (Siegler et al., 2003).
Example of Accommodation
In the clown incident, the boys father explained to his son that the man was not a clown and that
even though his hair was like a clowns, he wasnt wearing a funny costume and wasnt doing silly
things to make people laugh.
With this new knowledge, the boy was able to change his schema of clown and make this idea fit
better to a standard concept of clown.
Stages of Development
A child's cognitive development is about a child developing or constructing a mental model of the
Imagine what it would be like if you did not have a mental model of your world. It would mean that
you would not be able to make so much use of information from your past experience, or to plan
future actions.
Jean Piaget was interested both in how children learnt and in how they thought.
Piaget studied children from infancy to adolescence, and carried out many of his own investigations
using his three children. He used the following research methods:
Piaget made careful, detailed naturalistic observations of children. These were mainly his own children and the children of friends. From
these he wrote diary descriptions charting their development.
He also used clinical interviews and observations of older children who were able to understand questions and hold conversations.
Piaget believed that children think differently than adults and stated they go through 4 universal stages of cognitive development.
Development is therefore biologically based and changes as the child matures. Cognition therefore develops in all children in the same
sequence of stages.
Each child goes through the stages in the same order, and no stage can be missed out - although some individuals may never attain the later
stages. There are individual differences in the rate at which children progress through stages.
Piaget did not claim that a particular stage was reached at a certain age - although descriptions of the stages often include an indication of
the age at which the average child would reach each stage.
Piaget (1952) believed that these stages are universal - i.e. that the same sequence of development occurs in children all over the world,
whatever their culture.
Educational Implications
Piaget (1952) did not explicitly relate his theory to
education, although later researchers have explained
how features of Piaget's theory can be applied to
teaching and learning.
Object Permanence
Blanket & Ball Study
0 - 2 yrs.
Piaget has been extremely influential in developing
educational policy and teaching practise. For example, a
review of primary education by the UK government in
1966 was based strongly on Piagets theory. The result
Three Mountains
2 - 7 yrs.
of this review led to the publication of thePlowden
report (1967).
Discovery learning the idea that children learn best
through doing and actively exploring - was seen as
Conservation of Number
central to the transformation of primary school
7 11 yrs.
'The report's recurring themes are individual learning,
Formal Operational Manipulate ideas in head,
flexibility in the curriculum, the centrality of play in
Pendulum Task
11yrs +
e.g. Abstract Reasoning
children's learning, the use of the environment, learning
by discovery and the importance of the evaluation of
children's progress - teachers should 'not assume that only what is measurable is valuable.'
Because Piaget's theory is based upon biological maturation and stages the notion of 'readiness' is important. Readiness concerns when
certain information or concepts should be taught. According to Piaget's theory children should not be taught certain concepts until they
have reached the appropriate stage of cognitive development.
According to Piaget (1958), assimilation and accommodation require an active learner, not a passive one, because problem-solving skills
cannot be taught, they must be discovered.
Within the classroom learning should be student centred a accomplished through active discovery learning. The role of the teacher is to
facilitate learning, rather than direct tuition. Therefore teachers should encourage the following within the classroom:
o Focus on the process of learning, rather than the end product of it.
o Using active methods that require rediscovering or reconstructing "truths".
o Using collaborative, as well as individual activities (so children can learn from each other).
o Devising situations that present useful problems, and create disequilibrium in the child.
Stage of

Key Feature

Research Study

o Evaluate the level of the child's development, so suitable tasks can be set.
Evaluation of Piaget's Theory

The influence of Piagets ideas in developmental psychology has been enormous. He changed how people viewed the childs world
and their methods of studying children. He was an inspiration to many who came after and took up his ideas. Piaget's ideas have
generated a huge amount of research which has increased our understanding of cognitive development.

His ideas have been of practical use in understanding and communicating with children, particularly in the field of education (re:
Discovery Learning).

Are the stages real? Vygotsky and Bruner would rather not talk about stages at all, preferring to see development as continuous.
Others have queried the age ranges of the stages. Some studies have shown that progress to the formal operational stage is not
guaranteed. For example, Keating (1979) reported that 40-60% of college students fail at formal operation tasks, and Dasen (1994)
states that only one-third of adults ever reach the formal operational stage.

Because Piaget concentrated on the universal stages of cognitive development and biological maturation, he failed to consider the
effect that the social setting and culture may have on cognitive development (re: Vygotsky, 1978).

Piagets methods (observation and clinical interviews) are more open to biased interpretation than other methods. Because Piaget
conducted the observations alone the data collected are based on his own subjective interpretation of events. It would have been
more reliable if Piaget conducted the observations with another researcher and compared the results afterwards to check if they are
similar (i.e. have inter rater reliability).

As several studies have shown Piaget underestimated the abilities of children because his tests were sometimes confusing or
difficult to understand (e.g. Hughes, 1975).

The concept of schema is incompatible with the theories of Bruner (1966) and Vygotsky (1978). Behaviorism would also refute
Piagets schema theory because is cannot be directly observed as it is an internal process. Therefore, they would claim it cannot be
objectively measured.

Piaget carried out his studies with a handful of participants (i.e. small sample size) and in the early studies he generally used his
own children (from Switzerland). This sample is biased, and accordingly the results of these studies cannot be generalized to
children from different cultures.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow wanted to understand what motivates people. He believed that people possess a set of motivation systems unrelated to rewards or
unconscious desires.
Maslow (1943) stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs. When one need is fulfilled a person seeks to fullfil the next one,
and so on.
The earliest and most widespread version of Maslow's (1943, 1954)hierarchy of needs includes five motivational needs, often depicted as
hierarchical levels within a pyramid.
This five stage model can be divided into basic (or deficiency) needs (e.g. physiological,
safety, love, and esteem) and growth needs (self-actualization).
The deficiency, or basic needs are said to motivate people when they are unmet. Also, the
need to fulfil such needs will become stronger the longer the duration they are denied.
For example, the longer a person goes without food the more hungry they will become.
One must satisfy lower level basic needs before progressing on to meet higher level
growth needs. Once these needs have been reasonably satisfied, one may be able to reach
the highest level called self-actualization.
Every person is capable and has the desire to move up the hierarchy toward a level of selfactualization. Unfortunately, progress is often disrupted by failure to meet lower level
needs. Life experiences including divorce and loss of job may cause an individual to
fluctuate between levels of the hierarchy.
Maslow noted only one in a hundred people become fully self-actualized because our society rewards motivation primarily based on esteem,
love and other social needs.
The originalhierarchy of needs five-stage model includes:
1. Biological and Physiological needs - air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep.
2. Safety needs - protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, freedom from fear.
3. Love and belongingness needs - friendship, intimacy, affection and love, - from work group, family, friends, romantic relationships.
4. Esteem needs - achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, self-respect, respect from others.
5. Self-Actualization needs - realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.

Maslow posited that human needs are arranged in a hierarchy:

'It is quite true that man lives by bread alone when there is no bread.
But what happens to mans desires when there is plenty of bread and when
his belly is chronically filled?
At once other (and higher) needs emerge and these, rather than
physiological hungers, dominate the organism. And when these in turn are
satisfied, again new (and still higher) needs emerge and so on. This is
what we mean by saying that the basic human needs are organized into a
hierarchy of relative prepotency' (Maslow, 1943, p. 375).
The expanded hierarchy of needs:
It is important to note that Maslow's (1943, 1954) five stage model has
been expanded to include cognitive and aesthetic needs (Maslow, 1970a)
and later transcendence needs (Maslow, 1970b).
Changes to the original five-stage model are indented and include a sevenstage model and a eight-stage model, both developed during the 1960's
and 1970s.
1. Biological and Physiological needs - air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep, etc.
2. Safety needs - protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, etc.
3. Love and belongingness needs - friendship, intimacy, affection and love, - from work group, family, friends, romantic relationships.
4. Esteem needs - self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial responsibility, etc.
5. Cognitive needs - knowledge, meaning, etc.
6. Aesthetic needs - appreciation and search for beauty, balance, form, etc.
7. Self-Actualization needs - realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.
8. Transcendence needs - helping others to achieve self actualization.
Instead of focusing on psychopathology and what goes wrong with people, Maslow (1943) formulated a more positive account of human
behavior which focused on what goes right. He was interested in human potential, and how we fulfill that potential.
Psychologist Abraham Maslow (1943, 1954) stated that human motivation is based on people seeking fulfillment and change through
personal growth. Self-actualized people are those who were fulfilled and doing all they were capable of.
The growth of self-actualization (Maslow, 1962) refers to the need for personal growth and discovery that is present throughout a persons
life. For Maslow, a person is always 'becoming' and never remains static in these terms. In self-actualization a person comes to find a
meaning to life that is important to them.
As each person is unique the motivation for self-actualization leads people in different directions (Kenrick et al., 2010). For some people
self-actualization can be achieved through creating works of art or literature, for others through sport, in the classroom, or within a
corporate setting.
Maslow (1962) believed self-actualization could be measured through the concept of peak experiences. This occurs when a person
experiences the world totally for what it is, and there are feelings of euphoria, joy and wonder.
It is important to note that self-actualization is a continual process of becoming rather than a perfect state one reaches of a 'happy ever after'
(Hoffman, 1988).
Maslow offers the following description of self-actualization:
'It refers to the persons desire for self-fulfillment, namely, to the tendency for him to become actualized in what he is potentially.
The specific form that these needs will take will of course vary greatly from person to person. In one individual it may take the form of the
desire to be an ideal mother, in another it may be expressed athletically, and in still another it may be expressed in painting pictures or in
inventions' (Maslow, 1943, p. 382383).
Are you self-actualized?
Maslow (1968): Some of the characteristics of self-actualized people
Although we are all, theoretically, capable of self-actualizing, most of us will not do so, or only to a limited degree. Maslow (1970) estimated
that only two percent of people will reach the state of self actualization. He was particularly interested in the characteristics of people whom
he considered to have achieved their potential as persons.
By studying 18 people he considered to be self-actualized (including Abraham Lincoln and Albert Einstein) Maslow (1970) identified 15
characteristics of a self-actualized person.
Characteristics of self-actualizers:
1. They perceive reality efficiently and can tolerate uncertainty;
2. Accept themselves and others for what they are;
3. Spontaneous in thought and action;
4. Problem-centered (not self-centered);
5. Unusual sense of humor;
6. Able to look at life objectively;
7. Highly creative;
8. Resistant to enculturation, but not purposely unconventional;
9. Concerned for the welfare of humanity;
10. Capable of deep appreciation of basic life-experience;
11. Establish deep satisfying interpersonal relationships with a few people;
12. Peak experiences;
13. Need for privacy;
14. Democratic attitudes;
15. Strong moral/ethical standards.
Behavior leading to self-actualization:
(a) Experiencing life like a child, with full absorption and concentration;
(b) Trying new things instead of sticking to safe paths;
(c) Listening to your own feelings in evaluating experiences instead of the voice of tradition, authority or the majority;

(d) Avoiding pretense ('game playing') and being honest;

(e) Being prepared to be unpopular if your views do not coincide with those of the majority;
(f) Taking responsibility and working hard;
(g) Trying to identify your defenses and having the courage to give them up.
The characteristics of self-actualizers and the behaviors leading to self-actualization are shown in the list above. Although people achieve
self-actualization in their own unique way, they tend to share certain characteristics. However, self-actualization is a matter of
degree, 'There are no perfect human beings' (Maslow,1970a, p. 176).
It is not necessary to display all 15 characteristics to become self-actualized, and not only self-actualized people will display them. Maslow
did not equate self-actualization with perfection. Self-actualization merely involves achieving ones potential. Thus someone can be silly,
wasteful, vain and impolite, and still self-actualize. Less than two percent of the population achieve self-actualization.
Educational applications
Maslow's (1968) hierarchy of needs theory has made a major contribution to teaching and classroom management in schools. Rather than
reducing behavior to a response in the environment, Maslow (1970a) adopts a holistic approach to education and learning. Maslow looks at
the entire physical, emotional, social, and intellectual qualities of an individual and how they impact on learning.
Applications of Maslow's hierarchy theory to the work of the classroom teacher are obvious. Before a student's cognitive needs can be met
they must first fulfil their basic physiological needs. For example a tired and hungry student will find it difficult to focus on learning.
Students need to feel emotionally and physically safe and accepted within the classroom to progress and reach their full potential.
Maslow suggests students must be shown that they are valued and respected in the classroom and the teacher should create a supportive
environment. Students with a low self-esteem will not progress academically at an optimum rate until their self-esteem is strengthened.
Critical evaluation
The most significant limitation of Maslow's theory concerns his methodology. Maslow formulated the characteristics of self-actualized
individuals from undertaking a qualitative method called biographical analysis.
He looked at the biographies and writings of 18 people he identified as being self-actualized. From these sources he developed a list of
qualities that seemed characteristic of this specific group of people, as opposed to humanity in general.
From a scientific perspective there are numerous problems with this particular approach. First, it could be argued that biographical analysis
as a method is extremely subjective as it is based entirely on the opinion of the researcher. Personal opinion is always prone to bias, which
reduces thevalidity of any data obtained. Therefore Maslow's operational definition of self-actualization must not be blindly accepted as
scientific fact.
Furthermore, Maslow's biographical analysis focused on a biased sample of self-actualized individuals, prominently limited to highly
educated white males (such as Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, William James, Aldous Huxley, Gandhi, Beethoven).
Although Maslow (1970) did study self-actualized females, such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Mother Teresa, they comprised a small proportion
of hissample. This makes it difficult to generalize his theory to females and individuals from lower social classes or different ethnicity. Thus
questioning the population validity of Maslow's findings.
Furthermore, it is extremely difficult to empirically test Maslow's concept of self-actualization in a way that causal relationships can be
Another criticism concerns Maslow's assumption that the lower needs must be satisfied before a person can achieve their potential and selfactualize. This is not always the case, and therefore Maslow's hierarchy of needs in some aspects has been falsified.
Through examining cultures in which large numbers of people live in poverty (such as India) it is clear that people are still capable of higher
order needs such as love and belongingness. However, this should not occur, as according to Maslow, people who have difficulty achieving
very basic physiological needs (such as food, shelter etc.) are not capable of meeting higher growth needs.
Also, many creative people, such as authors and artists (e.g. Rembrandt and Van Gough) lived in poverty throughout their lifetime, yet it
could be argued that they achieved self-actualization.
Contemporary research by Tay & Diener (2011) has tested Maslows theory by analyzing the data of 60,865 participants from 123 countries,
representing every major region of the world. The survey was conducted from 2005 to 2010.
Respondents answered questions about six needs that closely resemble those in Maslow's model: basic needs (food, shelter); safety; social
needs (love, support); respect; mastery; and autonomy. They also rated their well-being across three discrete measures: life evaluation
(a person's view of his or her life as a whole), positive feelings (day-to-day instances of joy or pleasure), and negative feelings (everyday
experiences of sorrow, anger, or stress).
The results of the study support the view that universal human needs appear to exist regardless of cultural differences. However, the
ordering of the needs within the hierarchy was not correct.
"Although the most basic needs might get the most attention when you don't have them," Diener explains, "you don't need to fulfill them in
order to get benefits [from the others]." Even when we are hungry, for instance, we can be happy with our friends. "They're like
vitamins," Diener says on how the needs work independently. "We need them all."

Lev Vygotsky
The work of Lev Vygotsky (1934) has become the foundation of much research and theory in cognitive development over the past several
decades, particularly of what has become known as Social Development Theory.
Vygotsky's theories stress the fundamental role of social interaction in the development of cognition Vygotsky, 1978), as he believed strongly
that community plays a central role in the process of "making meaning."
Unlike Piaget's notion that childrens' development must necessarily precede their learning, Vygotsky argued, "learning is a necessary and
universal aspect of the process of developing culturally organized, specifically human psychological function" (1978, p. 90). In other words,
social learning tends to precede (i.e. come before) development.
Vygotsky has developed a sociocultural approach to cognitive development. He developed his theories at around the same time asJean
Piaget was starting to develop his ideas (1920's and 30's), but he died at the age of 38 and so his theories are incomplete - although some of
his writings are still being translated from Russian.
No single principle (such as Piaget's equilibration) can account for development. Individual development cannot be understood without
reference to the social and cultural context within which it is embedded. Higher mental processes in the individual have their origin in social
Vygotsky's theory differs from that of Piaget in a number of important ways:
1: Vygotsky places more emphasis on culture affecting/shaping cognitive development - this contradicts Piaget's view of universal stages and
content of development. (Vygotsky does not refer to stages in the way that Piaget does).
(i) Hence Vygotsky assumes cognitive development varies across cultures, whereas Piaget states cognitive development is mostly
universal across cultures.
2: Vygotsky places considerably more emphasis on social factors contributing to cognitive development (Piaget is criticized for
underestimating this).

(i) Vygotsky states cognitive development stems from social interactions from guided learning within the zone of proximal development
as children and their partners co-construct knowledge. In contrast Piaget maintains that cognitive development stems largely from
independent explorations in which children construct knowledge of their own.
(ii) For Vygotsky, the environment in which children grow up will influence how they think and what they think about.
3: Vygotsky places more (and different) emphasis on the role of language in cognitive development (again Piaget is criticized for lack of
emphasis on this). For Vygotsky, cognitive development results from an internalization of language.
4: According to Piaget, language depends on thought for its development (i.e. thought comes before language). For Vygotsky, thought and
language are initially separate systems from the beginning of life, merging at around three years of age, producing verbal thought (inner
Effects of Culture: - Tools of intellectual adaptation
Like Piaget, Vygotsky claimed that infants are born with the basic materials/abilities for intellectual development - Piaget focuses on motor
reflexes and sensory abilities.
Lev Vygotsky refers to Elementary Mental Functions
o Attention
o Sensation
o Perception
o Memory
Eventually, through interaction within the sociocultural environment, these are developed into more sophisticated and effective mental
processes/strategies which he refers to as Higher Mental Functions.
For example, memory in young children this is limited by biological factors. However, culture determines the type of memory strategy we
develop. E.g., in our culture we learn note-taking to aid memory, but in pre-literate societies other strategies must be developed, such as
tying knots in string to remember, or carrying pebbles, or repetition of the names of ancestors until large numbers can be repeated.
Vygotsky refers to tools of intellectual adaptation - these allow children to use the basic mental functions more effectively/adaptively, and
these are culturally determined (e.g. memory mnemonics, mind maps).
Vygotsky therefore sees cognitive functions, even those carried out alone, as affected by the beliefs, values and tools of intellectual
adaptation of the culture in which a person develops and therefore socio-culturally determined. The tools of intellectual adaptation
therefore vary from culture to culture - as in the memory example.
Social Influences on Cognitive Development
Like Piaget, Vygotsky believes that young children are curious and actively involved in their own learning and the discovery and
development of new understandings/schema. However, Vygotsky placed more emphasis on social contributions to the process of
development, whereas Piaget emphasized self-initiated discovery.
According to Vygotsky (1978), much important learning by the child occurs through social interaction with a skillful tutor. The tutor may
model behaviors and/or provide verbal instructions for the child. Vygotsky refers to this as cooperative or collaborative dialogue. The child
seeks to understand the actions or instructions provided by the tutor (often the parent or teacher) then internalizes the information, using it
to guide or regulate their own performance.
Shaffer (1996) gives the example of a young girl who is given her first jigsaw. Alone, she performs poorly in attempting to solve the puzzle.
The father then sits with her and describes or demonstrates some basic strategies, such as finding all the corner/edge pieces and provides a
couple of pieces for the child to put together herself and offers encouragement when she does so. As the child becomes more competent, the
father allows the child to work more independently. According to Vygotsky, this type of social interaction involving cooperative or
collaborative dialogue promotes cognitive development.
In order to gain an understanding of Vygotsky's theories on cognitive development, one must understand two of the main principles of
Vygotsky's work: the More Knowledgeable Other (MKO) and the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD).
More Knowledgeable Other
The more knowledgeable other (MKO) is somewhat self-explanatory; it refers to someone who has a better understanding or a higher ability
level than the learner, with respect to a particular task, process, or concept.
Although the implication is that the MKO is a teacher or an older adult, this is not necessarily the case. Many times, a child's peers or an
adult's children may be the individuals with more knowledge or experience. For example, who is more likely to know more about the newest
teenage music groups, how to win at the most recent PlayStation game, or how to correctly perform the newest dance craze - a child or their
In fact, the MKO need not be a person at all. Some companies, to support employees in their learning process, are now using electronic
performance support systems. Electronic tutors have also been used in educational settings to facilitate and guide students through the
learning process. The key to MKOs is that they must have (or be programmed with) more knowledge about the topic being learned than the
learner does.
Zone of Proximal Development
The concept of the More Knowledgeable Other is integrally related to the second important principle of Vygotsky's work, the Zone of
Proximal Development.
This is an important concept that relates to the difference between what a child can achieve independently and what a child can achieve with
guidance and encouragement from a skilled partner.
For example, the child could not solve the jigsaw puzzle (in the example above) by itself and
would have taken a long time to do so (if at all), but was able to solve it following
interaction with the father, and has developed competence at this skill that will be applied
to future jigsaws.
Vygotsky (1978) sees the Zone of Proximal Development as the area where the most
sensitive instruction or guidance should be given - allowing the child to develop skills they
will then use on their own - developing higher mental functions.
Vygotsky also views interaction with peers as an effective way of developing skills and
strategies. He suggests that teachers use cooperative learning exercises where less
competent children develop with help from more skillful peers - within the zone of
proximal development.
Evidence for Vygotsky and the ZPD
Freund (1990) conducted a study in which children had to decide which items of furniture should be placed in particular areas of a dolls
house. Some children were allowed to play with their mother in a similar situation before they attempted it alone (zone of proximal
development) whilst others were allowed to work on this by themselves (Piaget's discovery learning).

Freund found that those who had previously worked with their mother (ZPD) showed greatest improvement compared with their first
attempt at the task. The conclusion being that guided learning within the ZPD led to greater understanding/performance than working
alone (discovery learning).
Vygotsky and Language
Vygotsky believed that language develops from social interactions, for communication purposes. Vygotsky viewed language as mans
greatest tool, a means for communicating with the outside world.
According to Vygotsky (1962) language plays 2 critical roles in cognitive development:
1: It is the main means by which adults transmit information to children.
2: Language itself becomes a very powerful tool of intellectual adaptation.
Vygotsky (1987) differentiates between three forms of language: social speech which is external communication used to talk to others
(typical from the age of two); private speech (typical from the age of three) which is directed to the self and serves an intellectual function;
and finally private speech goes underground, diminishing in audibility as it takes on a self-regulating function and is transformed into silent
inner speech (typical from the age of seven).
For Vygotsky, thought and language are initially separate systems from the beginning of life, merging at around three years of age. At this
point speech and thought become interdependent: thought becomes verbal, speech becomes representational. When this happens,
children's monologues internalized to become inner speech. The internalization of language is important as it drives cognitive development.
"Inner speech is not the interior aspect of external speech - it is a function in itself. It still remains speech, i.e. thought connected with
words. But while in external speech thought is embodied in words, in inner speech words dies as they bring forth thought. Inner speech is
to a large extent thinking in pure meanings" (Vygotsky, 1962: p. 149).
Vygotsky (1987) was the first psychologist to document the importance of private speech. He considered private speech as the transition
point between social and inner speech, the moment in development where language and thought unite to constitute verbal thinking. Thus
private speech, in Vygotsky's view, was the earliest manifestation of inner speech. Indeed, private speech is more similar (in its form and
function) to inner speech than social speech.
Private speech is "typically defined, in contrast to social speech, as speech addressed to the self (not to others) for the purpose of selfregulation (rather than communication)" (Diaz, 1992, p.62). Unlike inner speech which is covert (i.e. hidden), private speech is overt.
In contrast to Piagets (1959) notion of private speech representing a developmental dead-end, Vygotsky (1934, 1987) viewed private speech
as: a revolution in development which is triggered when preverbal thought and preintellectual language come together to create
fundamentally new forms of mental functioning (Fernyhough & Fradley, 2005: p. 1).
In addition to disagreeing on the functional significance of private speech, Vygotsky and Piaget also offered opposing views on the
developmental course of private speech and the environmental circumstances in which it occurs most often (Berk & Garvin, 1984).
Through private speech, children begin to
collaborate with themselves in the same
way a more knowledgeable other (e.g.
adults) collaborate with them in the
achievement of a given function.
Vygotsky sees "private speech" as a means
for children to plan activities and strategies
and therefore aid their development.
Private speech is the use of language for
self-regulation of behavior. Language is
therefore an accelerator to
thinking/understanding (Jerome
Bruner also views language in this way).
Vygotsky believed that children who
engaged in large amounts of private speech
are more socially competent than children
who do not use it extensively.
Vygotsky (1987) notes that private speech
does not merely accompany a childs
activity but acts as a tool used by the
developing child to facilitate cognitive processes, such as overcoming task obstacles, enhancing imagination, thinking, and conscious
awareness. Children use private speech most often during intermediate difficulty tasks because they are attempting to self-regulate by
verbally planning and organizing their thoughts (Winsler et al., 2007).
The frequency and content of private speech are then correlated with behavior or performance. For example, private speech appears to be
functionally related to cognitive performance: It appears at times of difficulty with a task. For example, tasks related to executive function
(Fernyhough & Fradley, 2005), problem solving tasks (Behrend et al., 1992), schoolwork in both language (Berk & Landau, 1993), and
mathematics (Ostad & Sorensen, 2007).
Berk (1986) provided empirical support for the notion of private speech. He found that most private speech exhibited by children serves to
describe or guide the child's actions.
Berk also discovered than child engaged in private speech more often when working alone on challenging tasks and also when their teacher
was not immediately available to help them. Furthermore, Berk also found that private speech develops similarly in all children regardless
of cultural background.
Vygotsky (1987) proposed that private speech is a product of an individuals social environment. This hypothesis is supported by the fact
that there exist high positive correlations between rates of social interaction and private speech in children.
Children raised in cognitively and linguistically stimulating environments (situations more frequently observed in higher socioeconomic
status families) start using and internalizing private speech faster than children from less privileged backgrounds. Indeed, children raised in
environments characterized by low verbal and social exchanges exhibit delays in private speech development.
Childrens use of private speech diminishes as they grow older and follows a curvilinear trend. This is due to changes in ontogenetic
development whereby children are able to internalize language (through inner speech) in order to self-regulate their behavior (Vygotsky,
1987). For example, research has shown that childrens private speech usually peaks at 34 years of age, decreases at 67 years of age, and
gradually fades out to be mostly internalized by age 10 (Diaz, 1992).
Vygotsky proposed that private speech diminishes and disappears with age not because it becomes socialized, as Piaget suggested, but
rather because it goes underground to constitute inner speech or verbal thought (Frauenglass & Diaz, 1985).
Classroom Applications
A contemporary educational application of Vygotsky's theories is "reciprocal teaching", used to improve students' ability to learn from text.
In this method, teacher and students collaborate in learning and practicing four key skills: summarizing, questioning, clarifying, and
predicting. The teacher's role in the process is reduced over time.

Also, Vygotsky is relevant to instructional concepts such as "scaffolding" and "apprenticeship", in which a teacher or more advanced peer
helps to structure or arrange a task so that a novice can work on it successfully.
Vygotsky's theories also feed into current interest in collaborative learning, suggesting that group members should have different levels of
ability so more advanced peers can help less advanced members operate within theirZPD.
Critical Evaluation
Vygotsky's work has not received same level of intense scrutiny that Piaget's has, partly due to the time consuming process of translating
Vygotsky's work from Russian. Also, Vygotsky's sociocultural perspective does not provide as many specific hypotheses to test as did Piaget's
theory, making refutation difficult, if not impossible.
Perhaps the main criticism of Vygotsky's work concerns the assumption that it is relevant to all cultures. Rogoff (1990) dismisses the idea
that Vygotsky's ideas are culturally universal and instead states the concept of scaffolding - which is heavily dependent on verbal instruction
- may not be equally useful in all cultures for all types of learning. Indeed, in some instances observation and practice may be more effective
ways of learning certain skills.
What is Conformity?
Conformity is a type of social influence involving a change in belief or behavior in order to fit in with a group.
This change is in response to real (involving the physical presence of others) or imagined (involving the pressure of social norms /
expectations) group pressure.
Conformity can also be simply defined as yielding to group pressures (Crutchfield, 1955). Group pressure may take different forms, for
example bullying, persuasion, teasing, criticism etc. Conformity is also known as majority influence (or group pressure).
The term conformity is often used to indicate an agreement to the majority position, brought about either by a desire to fit in or be liked
(normative) or because of a desire to be correct (informational), or simply to conform to a social role (identification).
There have been many experiments in psychology investigating conformity and group pressure.
Jenness (1932) was the first psychologist to study conformity. His experiment was an ambiguous situation involving a glass bottle filled
with beans. He asked participants individually to estimate how many beans the bottle contained. Jenness then put the group in a room
with the bottle, and asked them to provide a group estimate through discussion.
Participants were then asked to estimate the number on their own again to find whether their initial estimates had altered based on the
influence of the majority. Jenness then interviewed the participants individually again, and asked if they would like to change their original
estimates, or stay with the group's estimate. Almost all changed their individual guesses to be closer to the group estimate.

However, perhaps the most famous conformity experiment was bySolomon Asch (1951) and his line judgment experiment.
Types of Social Conformity
Man (1969) states that the essence of conformity is yielding to group pressure. He identified three types of conformity: Normative,
informational and ingratiational.
Kelman (1958) distinguished between three different types of conformity: Compliance, internalization and identification.
Normative Conformity

Yielding to group pressure because a person wants to

fit in with the group. E.g. Asch Line Study.

Conforming because the person is scared of being

rejected by the group.

This type of conformity usually involves compliance

where a person publicly accepts the views of a
group but privately rejects them.


Informational Conformity

This usually occurs when a person lacks knowledge and

looks to the group for guidance.

Or when a person is in an ambiguous (i.e. unclear)

situation and socially compares their behavior with the
group. E.g.Sherif's Study.

This type of conformity usually involves internalization

where a person accepts the views of the groups and adopts
them as an individual.


Publicly changing behavior to fit in with the group

while privately disagreeing.

In other words, conforming to the majority

(publicly), in spite of not really agreeing with them

Publicly changing behavior to fit in with the group and also

agreeing with them privately.

This is seen in Aschs line experiment.

This is seen in Sherifs autokinetic experiment.

Ingratiational Conformity

Where a person conforms to impress or gain

favor/acceptance from other people.

It is similar to normative influence but is motivated

by the need for social rewards rather than the threat
of rejection, i.e., group pressure does not enter the
decision to conform.


Conforming to the expectations of a social role.

Similar to compliance, there does not have to be a change

in private opinion.

A good example is Zimbardo's Prison Study.

Sherif (1935) Autokinetic Effect Experiment

Aim: Sherif (1935) conducted an experiment with the aim of demonstrating that people conform to group norms when they are put in an
ambiguous (i.e. unclear) situation.
Method : Sherif used a lab experiment to study conformity. He used the autokinetic effect this is where a small spot of light (projected
onto a screen) in a dark room will appear to move, even though it is still (i.e. it is a visual illusion).
It was discovered that when participants were individually tested their estimates on how far the light moved varied considerably (e.g. from
20cm to 80cm). The participants were then tested in groups of three. Sherif manipulated the composition of the group by putting together
two people whose estimate of the light movement when alone was very similar, and one person whose estimate was very different. Each
person in the group had to say aloud how far they thought the light had moved.

Results: Sherif found that over numerous estimates (trials) of the movement of light, the group converged to a common estimate. The
person whose estimate of movement was greatly different to the other two in the group conformed to the view of the other two.
Sherif said that this showed that people would always tend to conform. Rather than make individual judgments they tend to come to a
group agreement.
Conclusion: The results show that when in an ambiguous situation (such as the autokinetic effect), a person will look to others (who know
more / better) for guidance (i.e. adopt the group norm). They want to do the right thing but may lack the appropriate information.
Observing others can provide this information. This is known as informational conformity.
Non Conformity
Not everyone conform to social pressure. Indeed, their are many factors that contribute to an individual's desire to remain independent of
the group.
For example, Smith and Bond (1998) discovered cultural differences in conformity between western and eastern countries. People from
western cultures (such as America and the UK) are more likely to be individualistic and don't want to be seen as being the same as everyone
This means that they value being independent and self sufficient (the individual is more important that the group), and as such are more
likely to participate in non conformity.
In contrast eastern cultures (such as Asian countries) are more likely to value the needs of the family and other social groups before their
own. They are known as collectivist cultures and are more likely to conform.

Asch Experiment
Imagine yourself in the following situation: You sign up for a psychology experiment, and on a specified date you and seven others whom
you think are also participants arrive and are seated at a table in a small room.
You don't know it at the time, but the others are actually associates of the experimenter, and their behavior has been carefully scripted.
You're the only real participant.
The experimenter arrives and tells you that the study in which you are about to participate concerns people's visual judgments. She places
two cards before you. The card on the left contains one vertical line. The card on the right displays three lines of varying length.
The experimenter asks all of you, one at a time, to choose which of the three lines on the right card matches the length of the line on the left
card. The task is repeated several times with different cards.
On some occasions the other "participants" unanimously choose the wrong line. It is clear to you that they are wrong, but they have all given
the same answer.
What would you do? Would you go along with the majority opinion, or would you "stick to your guns" and trust your own eyes?
If you were involved in this experiment how do you think you would behave? Would you conform to the majoritys viewpoint?
Solomon Asch - Conformity Experiment
Asch believed that the main problem with Sherif's (1935) conformityexperiment was that there was no correct answer to the ambiguous
autokinetic experiment. How could we be sure that a person conformed when there was no correct answer?
sch (1951) devised what is now regarded as a classic experiment in social psychology, whereby there was an obvious answer to a line
judgment task. If the participant gave an incorrect answer it would be clear that this was due to group pressure.
Aim: Solomon Asch (1951) conducted an experiment to investigate the extent to which social pressure from a majority group could affect a
person to conform.
Procedure: Asch used a lab experiment to study conformity, whereby 50 male students from Swarthmore College in the USA participated
in a vision test. Using a line judgment task, Asch put a naive participant in a room with seven confederates.
The confederates had agreed in advance what their responses would be when presented with
the line task. The real participant did not know this and was led to believe that the other
seven participants were also real participants like themselves.
Each person in the room had to state aloud which comparison line (A, B or C) was most like
the target line. The answer was always obvious. The real participant sat at the end of the row
and gave his or her answer last.
There were 18 trials in total and the confederates gave the wrong answer on 12 trails (called the critical
trials). Asch was interested to see if the real participant would conform to the majority view. Asch's
experiment also had a control condition where there were no confederates, only a "real participant".
Results: Asch measured the number of times each participant conformed to the majority view. On
average, about one third (32%) of the participants who were placed in this situation went along and
conformed with the clearly incorrect majority on the critical trials.
Over the 12 critical trials about 75% of participants conformed at least once and 25% of participant never
conformed. In the control group, with no pressure to conform to confederates, less than 1% of
participants gave the wrong answer.
Conclusion: Why did the participants conform so readily? When they were interviewed after the
experiment, most of them said that they did not really believe their conforming answers, but had gone
along with the group for fear of being ridiculed or thought "peculiar". A few of them said that they really did believe the group's answers
were correct.
Apparently, people conform for two main reasons: because they want to fit in with the group (normative influence) and because they believe
the group is better informed than they are (informational influence).
Evaluation: One limitation of the study is that is used a biased sample. All the participants were male students who all belonged to the
same age group. This means that study lacks population validity and that the results cannot be generalized to females or older groups of
Another problem is that the experiment used an artificial task to measure conformity - judging line lengths. This means that study has low
ecological validity and the results cannot be generalized to other real life situations of conformity.
Finally, there are ethical issues: participants were not protected from psychological stress which may occur if they disagreed with the
majority. Asch deceived the student volunteers claiming they were taking part in a 'vision' test; the real purpose was to see how the 'naive'
participant would react to the behavior of the confederates. However, deception was necessary to produce valid results.

The Asch (1951) study has also been called a child of its time (as conformity was the social norm in 1950s America). The era of
individualism, doing your own thing, did not take hold until the 1960s.
Perrin and Spencer (1980) carried out an exact replication of the original Asch experiment using British engineering, mathematics and
chemistry students as participants. The results were clear cut: on only one out of 396 trials did a participant conform with the incorrect
majority. This shows the Asch experiment has poor reliability.
Factors Affecting Conformity
In further trials, Asch (1952, 1956) changed the procedure (i.e. independent variables) in order to investigate which factors influenced the
level of conformity (dependent variable). His results and conclusions are given below:

Factors Increasing Conformity

Size of the Group

Conformity tends to increase as the size of the group


However, there is little change in conformity once the

group size reaconformityWith one other person (i.e.
confederate) in the group conformity was 3%, with
two others it increased to 13% and with three or more
it was 32% (or 1/3).

Because conformity does not seem to increase in

groups larger than four, this is considered the
optimal group size.

Difficulty of Task

Factors Decreasing Conformity

Social Support

When one other person in the group gave a different

answer from the others, and the group answer was not
unanimous, conformity dropped.

Asch (1951) found that even the presence of just one

confederate that goes against the majority choice can
reduce conformity as much as 80%.

This suggests that individuals conform because they are

concerned about what other people think of them (i.e.
normative influence).

Answer in Private

When the (comparison) lines (e.g. A, B, C) were made

more similar in length it was harder to judge the
correct answer and conformity increased.

When participants were allowed to answer in private

(so the rest of the group do not know their
response)conformity decreases.

When we are uncertain, it seems we look to others for

confirmation. The more difficult the task the greater
the conformity.

This is because there is less groups pressure and

normative influence is not as powerful, as there is no
fear of rejection from the group.

Status of Majority Group

If someone is of high status (e.g. your boss) or has a

lot of knowledge (e.g. your teacher), they might be
more influential, and so people will conform to their
opinions more (e.g. informational influence).

The higher the status of the group the higher the level
of conformity.

Behaviorist Approach
Behaviorism (also called the behaviorist approach) was the primary paradigm in psychology between 1920s to 1950 and is based on a
number of underlying assumptions regarding methodology and behavioral analysis:
* Psychology should be seen as a science. Theories need to be supported by empirical data obtained through careful and controlled
observation and measurement of behavior. Watson (1913) stated that psychology as a behaviorist views it is a purely objective
experimental branch of natural science. Its theoretical goal is prediction and control (p. 158).
* Behaviorism is primarily concerned with observable behavior, as opposed to internal events like thinking and emotion. Observable (i.e.
external) behavior can be objectively and scientifically measured. Internal events, such as thinking should be explained through behavioral
terms (or eliminated altogether).
* People have no free will a persons environment determines their behavior
* When born our mind is 'tabula rasa' (a blank slate).
* There is little difference between the learning that takes place in humans and that in other animals. Therefore research can be carried out
on animals as well as humans.
* Behavior is the result of stimulus response (i.e. all behavior, no matter how complex, can be reduced to a simple stimulus response
association). Watson described the purpose of psychology as: To predict, given the stimulus, what reaction will take place; or, given the
reaction, state what the situation or stimulus is that has caused the reaction (1930, p. 11).
* All behavior is learnt from the environment. We learn new behavior through classical or operant conditioning.
Varieties of Behaviorism
Historically, the most significant distinction among versions of behaviorism is that between Watson's original classical behaviorism, and
forms of behaviorism later inspired by his work, known collectively asneobehaviorism.
In his book, Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It Watson (1913, p. 158) outlines the principles of all behaviorists:
Psychology as the behaviorist views it is a purely objective experimental branch of natural science. Its theoretical goal is the prediction
and control of behavior. Introspection forms no essential part of its methods, nor is the scientific value of its data dependent upon the
readiness with which they lend themselves to interpretation in terms of consciousness. The behaviorist, in his efforts to get a unitary
scheme of animal response, recognizes no dividing line between man and brute. The behavior of man, with all of its refinement and
complexity, forms only a part of the behaviorist's total scheme of investigation.
The History of Behaviorism
* Pavlov (1897) published the results of an experiment on conditioning after originally studying digestion in dogs.

* Watson (1913) launches the behavioral school of psychology (classical conditioning), publishing an article, "Psychology as the Behaviorist
Views It".
* Watson and Rayner (1920) conditioned an orphan called Albert B (aka Little Albert) to fear a white rat.
* Thorndike (1905) formalized the "Law of Effect".
* Skinner (1936) wrote "The Behavior of Organisms" and introduced the concepts of operant conditioning and shaping.
* Clark Hulls (1943) Principles of Behavior was published.
* B.F. Skinner (1948) published Walden Two in which he described a utopian society founded upon behaviorist principles.
* Bandura (1963) publishes a book called the "Social Leaning Theory and Personality development" which combines both cognitive and
behavioral frameworks.
* Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior (begun in 1958).
* B.F. Skinner (1971) published his book Beyond Freedom and Dignity, where he argues that free will is an illusion.
Behaviorism Summary
Key Features


Stimulus - Response

Lab Experiments

Classical Conditioning & Operant Conditioning

Little Albert

Reinforcement & Punishment(Skinner)

Edward Thorndike (the cat in a puzzle box)

Objective Measurement

Skinner box (rats & pigeons)

Social Learning Theory (Bandura)

Pavlovs Dogs


Bandura's Bobo Doll Experiment


Ethical Considerations

Basic Assumptions

Areas of Application

Gender Role Development

Behavioral Therapy (e.g. Flooding)


Psychology should be seen as a science, to be studied

in a scientific manner.


Behaviorism is primarily concerned with observable

behavior, as opposed to internal events like thinking.


Behavior is the result of stimulus response (i.e. all

behavior, no matter how complex, can be reduced to
a simple stimulus response features).

Aversion Therapy

Scientific Methods



Moral Development



Behavior is determined by the environment (e.g.





Ignores mediational processes

Highly applicable (e.g. therapy)

Ignores biology (e.g. testosterone)

Emphasizes objective measurement

Too deterministic (little free-will)

Many experiments to support theories

Experiments low ecological validity

Identified comparisons between animals (Pavlov)

and humans (Watson & Rayner - Little Albert)

Humanism cant compare animals to humans


Critical Evaluation
An obvious advantage of behaviorism is its ability to clearly define behavior and to measure changes in behavior. According to the law of
parsimony, the fewer assumptions a theory makes, the better and the more credible it is. Behaviorism, therefore, looks for simple
explanations of human behavior from a very scientific standpoint.
However, Humanism(e.g. Carl Rogers) rejects the scientific method of using experiments to measure and control variables because it
creates an artificial environment and has low ecological validity.
Humanistic psychology also assumes that humans have free will(personal agency) to make their own decisions in life and do not follow the
deterministic laws ofscience.
Humanism also rejects the nomothetic approach of behaviorism as they view humans as being unique and believe humans cannot be
compared with animals (who arent susceptible to demand characteristics). This is known as an idiographic approach.
The psychodynamic approach (Freud) criticizes behaviorism as it does not take into account the unconscious minds influence on behavior,
and instead focuses on external observable behavior. Freud also rejects that idea that people are born a blank slate (tabula rasa) and states
that people are born with instincts (e.g. eros and thanatos).
Biological psychology states that all behavior has a physical / organic cause. They emphasise the role of nature over nurture. For
example, chromosomesand hormones (testosterone) influence our behavior too, in addition to the environment.
Cognitive psychology states that mediational processes occur between stimulus and response, such as memory, thinking, problem solving

Despite these criticisms behaviorism has made significant contributions to psychology. These include insights into learning, language
development, and moral and gender development, which have all been explained in terms of conditioning.
The contribution of behaviorism can be seen in some of its practical applications. Behavior therapy and behavior modification represent one
of the major approaches to the treatment of abnormal behavior and are readily used in clinical psychology.

The outcome of cognitive development is thinking. The intelligent mind creates from experience "generic coding systems that permit one to
go beyond the data to new and possibly fruitful predictions" (Bruner, 1957, p. 234).
Thus, children as they grow must acquire a way of representing the "recurrent regularities" in their environment.
So, to Bruner, important outcomes of learning include not just the concepts, categories, and problem-solving procedures invented
previously by the culture, but also the ability to "invent" these things for oneself.
Cognitive growth involves an interaction between basic human capabilities and "culturally invented technologies that serve as amplifiers of
these capabilities." These culturally invented technologies include not just obvious things such as computers and television, but also more
abstract notions such as the way a culture categorizes phenomena, and language itself. Bruner would likely agree with Vygotsky that
language serves to mediate between environmental stimuli and the individual's response.
The aim of education should be to create autonomous learners (i.e., learning to learn).
In his research on the cognitive development of children (1966), Jerome Bruner proposed three modes of representation:

Enactive representation (action-based)

Iconic representation (image-based)

Symbolic representation (language-based)

Bruner's Three Modes of Representation

Modes of representation are the way in which information or knowledge are stored and encoded in memory.
Rather than neat age related stages (like Piaget), the modes of representation are integrated and only loosely sequential as they "translate"
into each other.
(0 - 1 years)
This appears first. It involves encoding action based information and storing it in our memory. For example, in the form of movement
as a muscle memory, a baby might remember the action of shaking a rattle.
The child represents past events through motor responses, i.e. an infant will shake a rattle which has just been removed or dropped, as if
the movements themselves are expected to produce the accustomed sound. And this is not just limited to children.
Many adults can perform a variety of motor tasks (typing, sewing a shirt, operating a lawn mower) that they would find difficult to describe
in iconic (picture) or symbolic (word) form.
(1 - 6 years)
This is where information is stored visually in the form of images (a mental picture in the minds eye). For some, this is conscious; others
say they dont experience it. This may explain why, when we are learning a new subject, it is often helpful to have diagrams or illustrations to
accompany verbal information.
(7 years onwards)
This develops last. This is where information is stored in the form of a code or symbol, such as language. This is the most adaptable form of
representation, for actions & images have a fixed relation to that which they represent. Dog is a symbolic representation of a single class.
Symbols are flexible in that they can be manipulated, ordered, classified etc., so the user isnt constrained by actions or images. In the
symbolic stage, knowledge is stored primarily as words, mathematical symbols, or in other symbol systems.
Bruner's constructivist theory suggests it is effective when faced with new material to follow a progression from enactive to iconic to
symbolic representation; this holds true even for adult learners. A true instructional designer, Bruner's work also suggests that a learner
even of a very young age is capable of learning any material so long as the instruction is organized appropriately, in sharp contrast to the
beliefs of Piaget and other stage theorists.
The Importance of Language
Language is important for the increased ability to deal with abstract concepts. Bruner argues that language can code stimuli and free an
individual from the constraints of dealing only with appearances, to provide a more complex yet flexible cognition.
The use of words can aid the development of the concepts they represent and can remove the constraints of the here & now concept.
Basically, he sees the infant as an intelligent & active problem solver from birth, with intellectual abilities basically similar to those of the
mature adult.
Educational Implications
For Bruner (1961), the purpose of education is not to impart knowledge, but instead to facilitate a child's thinking and problem solving skills
which can then be transferred to a range of situations. Specifically, education should also develop symbolic thinking in children.
In 1960 Bruner's text, The Process of Education was published. The main premise of Bruner's text was that students are active learners
who construct their own knowledge.
Bruner (1960) opposed Piaget's notion of readiness. He argued that schools waste time trying to match the complexity of subject
material to a child's cognitive stage of development. This means students are held back by teachers as certain topics are deemed to difficult
to understand and must be taught when the teacher believes the child has reached the appropriate state of cognitive maturity.
Bruner (1960) adopts a different view and believes a child (of any age) is capable of understanding complex information: 'We begin with the
hypothesis that any subject can be taught effectively in some intellectually honest form to any child at any stage of development'. (p. 33)
Bruner (1960) explained how this was possible through the concept of thespiral curriculum. This involved information being structured
so that complex ideas can be taught at a simplified level first, and then re-visited at more complex levels later on. Therefore, subjects would
be taught at levels of gradually increasing difficultly (hence the spiral analogy). Ideally teaching his way should lead to children being able to
solve problems by themselves.
Bruner (1961) proposes that learners construct their own knowledge and do this by organizing and categorizing information using a coding
system. Bruner believed that the most effect way to develop a coding system is to discover it rather than being told it by the teacher. The
concept of discovery learning implies that students construct their own knowledge for themselves (also known as a constructivist
The role of the teacher should not be to teach information by rote learning, but instead to facilitate the learning process. This means that a
good teacher will design lessons that help student discover the relationship between bits of information. To do this a teacher must give

students the information they need, but without organizing for them. The use of the spiral curriculum can aid the process of discovery
Bruner and Vygotsky
Both Bruner and Vygotsky emphasise a child's environment, especially the social environment, more than Piaget did. Both agree that adults
should play an active role in assisting the child's learning.
Bruner, like Vygotsky, emphasized the social nature of learning, citing that other people should help a child develop skills through the
process ofscaffolding. The term scaffolding first appeared in the literature when Wood, Bruner and Ross described how tutors' interacted
with preschooler to help them solve a block reconstruction problem (Wood et al., 1976).
The concept of scaffolding is very similar to Vygotsky's notion of the zone of proximal development, and it not uncommon for the terms to
be used interchangeably. Scaffolding involves helpful, structured interaction between an adult and a child with the aim of helping the child
achieve a specific goal.
'[Scaffolding] refers to the steps taken to reduce the degrees of freedom in carrying out some task so that the child can concentrate on the
difficult skill she is in the process of acquiring' (Bruner, 1978, p. 19).
Bruner and Piaget
Obviously there are similarities between Piaget and Bruner, but an importantdifference is that Bruners modes are not related in terms of
which presuppose the one that precedes it. Whilst sometimes one mode may dominate in usage, they coexist. Bruner states that what
determines the level of intellectual development is the extent to which the child has been given appropriate instruction together with
practice or experience. So - the right way of presentation and the right explanation will enable a child to grasp a concept usually only
understood by an adult. His theory stresses the role of education and the adult.
Although Bruner proposes stages of cognitive development, he doesnt see them as representing different separate modes of thought at
different points of development (like Piaget). Instead, he sees a gradual development of cognitive skills and techniques into more integrated
adult cognitive techniques.
Bruner views symbolic representation as crucial for cognitive development and since language is our primary means of symbolizing the
world, he attaches great importance to language in determining cognitive development.


1. Children are PRE-ADAPTED to learning

1. Development is a CONTINUOUS PROCESS not a series of


2. Children have a NATURAL CURIOSITY

2. The development of LANGUAGE is a cause not a consequence

of cognitive development


develop over time

3. You can SPEED-UP cognitive development. You dont have to

wait for the child to be ready

4. Children are ACTIVE participants in the

learning process

4. The involvement of ADULTS and MORE KNOWLEDGEABLE

PEERS makes a big difference

5. Cognitive development entails the

acquisition of SYMBOLS

5. Symbolic thought does NOT REPLACE EARLIER MODES OF


Pavlov's Dogs
Like many great scientific advances, classical conditioning was discovered accidentally.
During the 1890s Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov was looking at salivation in dogs in response to being fed, when he noticed that his dogs
would begin to salivate whenever he entered the room, even when he was not bringing them food. At first this was something of a nuisance
(not to mention messy!).
Pavlovian Conditioning
Pavlov (1902) started from the idea that there are some things that a dog does not need to learn. For example, dogs dont learn to salivate
whenever they see food. This reflex is hard wired into the dog. In behaviorist terms, it is an unconditioned response (i.e. a stimulusresponse connection that required no learning). In behaviorist terms, we write:
Unconditioned Stimulus(Food) > Unconditioned Response (Salivate)
Pavlov showed the existence of the unconditioned response by presenting a dog with a bowl of food and the measuring its salivary secretions
(see image below).
However, when Pavlov discovered that any object or event which the dogs learnt
to associate with food (such as the lab assistant) would trigger the same response, he
realized that he had made an important scientific discovery. Accordlingly, he devoted the
rest of his career to studying this type of learning.
Pavlov knew that somehow, the dogs in his lab had learned to associate food with his lab
assistant. This must have been learned, because at one point the dogs did not do it, and
there came a point where they started, so their behavior had changed. A change in
behavior of this type must be the result of learning.
In behaviorist terms, the lab assistant was originally a neutral stimulus. It is called neutral
because it produces no response. What had happened was that the neutral stimulus (the
lab assistant) had become associated with an unconditioned stimulus (food).
In his experiment, Pavlov used a bell as his neutral stimulus. Whenever he gave food to
his dogs, he also rang a bell. After a number of repeats of this procedure, he tried the bell on its own. As you might expect, the bell on its own
now caused an increase in salivation.
So the dog had learned an association between the bell and the food and a new behavior had been learnt. Because this response was learned
(or conditioned), it is called a conditioned response. The neutral stimulus has become a conditioned stimulus.

Pavlov found that for associations to be made, the two stimuli had to be presented close together in time. He called this the law of temporal
contiguity. If the time between the conditioned stimulus (bell) and unconditioned stimulus (food) is too great, then learning will not occur.
Pavlov and his studies of classical conditioning have become famous since his early work between 1890-1930. Classical conditioning is
"classical" in that it is the first systematic study of basic laws of learning / conditioning.

To summarize, classical conditioning (later developed by John Watson) involves learning to associate an unconditioned stimulus that
already brings about a particular response (i.e. a reflex) with a new (conditioned) stimulus, so that the new stimulus brings about the same
Pavlov developed some rather unfriendly technical terms
to describe this process. The unconditioned stimulus (or
UCS) is the object or event that originally produces the
reflexive / natural response.
The response to this is called the unconditioned response
(or UCR). The neutral stimulus (NS) is a new stimulus
that does not produce a response.
Once the neutral stimulus has become associated with the
unconditioned stimulus, it becomes a conditioned
stimulus (CS). The conditioned response (CR) is the
response to the conditioned stimulus.

Classical Conditioning
Behaviorism as a movement in psychology appeared in 1913 when John Broadus Watson published the classic article Psychology as the
behaviorist views it.
John Watson proposed that the process of classical conditioning (based onPavlovs observations) was able to explain all aspects of human
Everything from speech to emotional responses were simply patterns of stimulus and response. Watson denied completely the existence of
the mind or consciousness.
Watson believed that all individual differences in behavior were due to different experiences of learning. He famously said:
"Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I'll guarantee to take any one at
random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select - doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man
and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations and the race of his ancestors (Watson, 1924, p. 104).
Classical Conditioning Examples
Classical conditioning theory involves learning a new behavior via the process of association. In simple terms two stimuli are linked together
to produce a new learned response in a person or animal. There are three stages to classical conditioning. In each stage the stimuli and
responses are given special scientific terms:
Stage 1: Before Conditioning:
In this stage, the unconditioned stimulus (UCS) produces an unconditioned response (UCR) in an organism. In basic terms this
means that a stimulus in the environment has produced a behavior / response which is unlearned (i.e. unconditioned) and therefore is a
natural response which has not been taught. In this respect no new behavior has been learned yet.
For example, a stomach virus (UCS) would produce a response of nausea (UCR). In another example a perfume (UCS) could create a
response of happiness or desire (UCR).
This stage also involves another stimulus which has no affect on a person and is called the neutral stimulus (NS). The NS could be a
person, object, place etc. The neutral stimulus in classical conditioning does not produce a response until it is paired with the unconditioned
Stage 2: During Conditioning:
During this stage a stimulus which produces no response (i.e. neutral) is associated with the unconditioned stimulus at which point it now
becomes known as the conditioned stimulus (CS).
For example a stomach virus (UCS) might be associated with eating a certain food such as chocolate (CS). Also perfume (UCS) might
beassociated with a specific person (CS).
Often during this stage the UCS must be associated with the CS on a number of occasions, or trials, for learning to take place. However, one
trail learning can happen on certain occasions when it is not necessary for an association to be strengthened over time (such as being sick
after food poisoning or drinking too much alcohol).
Stage 3: After Conditioning:
Now the conditioned stimulus (CS) has been associated with the unconditioned stimulus (UCS) to create a new conditioned response (CR).
For example a person (CS) who has been associated with nice perfume (UCS) is now found attractive (CR). Also chocolate (CS) which was
eaten before a person was sick with a virus (UCS) is now produces a response of nausea (CR).
Classical Conditioning
by Saul McLeod

published 2008, updated 2014

Behaviorism as a movement in psychology appeared in 1913 when John Broadus Watson published the classic article Psychology as the
behaviorist views it.
John Watson proposed that the process of classical conditioning (based onPavlovs observations) was able to explain all aspects of human
Everything from speech to emotional responses were simply patterns of stimulus and response. Watson denied completely the existence of
the mind or consciousness.
Watson believed that all individual differences in behavior were due to different experiences of learning. He famously said:
"Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I'll guarantee to take any one at
random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select - doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man
and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations and the race of his ancestors (Watson, 1924, p. 104).
Classical Conditioning Examples
Classical conditioning theory involves learning a new behavior via the process of association. In simple terms two stimuli are linked together
to produce a new learned response in a person or animal. There are three stages to classical conditioning. In each stage the stimuli and
responses are given special scientific terms:
Stage 1: Before Conditioning:
In this stage, the unconditioned stimulus (UCS) produces anunconditioned response (UCR) in an organism. In basic terms this
means that a stimulus in the environment has produced a behavior / response which is unlearned (i.e. unconditioned) and therefore is a
natural response which has not been taught. In this respect no new behavior has been learned yet.
For example, a stomach virus (UCS) would produce a response of nausea (UCR). In another example a perfume (UCS) could create a
response of happiness or desire (UCR).
This stage also involves another stimulus which has no affect on a person and is called the neutral stimulus (NS). The NS could be a
person, object, place etc. The neutral stimulus in classical conditioning does not produce a response until it is paired with the unconditioned
Stage 2: During Conditioning:
During this stage a stimulus which produces no response (i.e. neutral) is associated with the unconditioned stimulus at which point it now
becomes known as the conditioned stimulus (CS).
For example a stomach virus (UCS) might be associated with eating a certain food such as chocolate (CS). Also perfume (UCS) might
beassociated with a specific person (CS).
Often during this stage the UCS must be associated with the CS on a number of occasions, or trials, for learning to take place. However, one
trail learning can happen on certain occasions when it is not necessary for an association to be strengthened over time (such as being sick
after food poisoning or drinking too much alcohol).
Stage 3: After Conditioning:
Now the conditioned stimulus (CS) has been associated with the unconditioned stimulus (UCS) to create a new conditioned response (CR).
For example a person (CS) who has been associated with nice perfume (UCS) is now found attractive (CR). Also chocolate (CS) which was
eaten before a person was sick with a virus (UCS) is now produces a response of nausea (CR).
Little Albert Experiment (Phobias)
Ivan Pavlov showed that classical conditioning applied to animals. Did it also apply to
humans? In a famous (though ethically dubious) experiment Watson and Rayner
(1920) showed that it did.
Little Albert was a 9-month-old infant who was tested on his reactions to various stimuli. He
was shown a white rat, a rabbit, a monkey and various masks. Albert described as "on the
whole stolid and unemotional" showed no fear of any of these stimuli. However what did
startle him and cause him to be afraid was if a hammer was struck against a steel bar behind
his head. The sudden loud noise would cause "little Albert to burst into tears.
When "Little Albert" was just over 11 months old the white rat was presented and seconds
later the hammer was struck against the steel bar. This was done 7 times over the next 7 weeks
and each time "little Albert" burst into tears. By now "little Albert only had to see the rat and he immediately showed every sign of fear. He
would cry (whether or not the hammer was hit against the steel bar) and he would attempt to crawl away.
Watson and Rayner had shown that classical conditioning could be used to create a phobia. A phobia is an irrational fear, i.e. a fear that is
out of proportion to the danger. Over the next few weeks and months "Little Albert" was observed and 10 days after conditioning his fear
of the rat was much less marked. This dying out of a learned response is called extinction. However even after a full month it was still
Classical Conditioning in the Classroom
The implications of classical conditioning in the classroom are less important than those of operant conditioning, but there is a still need for
teachers to try to make sure that students associate positive emotional experiences with learning.
If a student associates negative emotional experiences with school then this can obviously have bad results, such as creating a school phobia
For example, if a student is bullied at school they may learn to associate school with fear. It could also explain why some students show a
particular dislike of certain subjects that continue throughout their academic career. This could happen if a student is humiliated or
punished in class by a teacher.
Critical Evaluation
Classical conditioning emphasizes the importance of learning from the environment, and supports nurture over nature. However, it is
limiting to describe behavior solely in terms of either nature or nurture, and attempts to do this underestimate the complexity of human
behavior. It is more likely that behavior is due to an interaction between nature (biology) and nurture (environment).
A strength of classical conditioning theory is that it is scientific. This is because it's based on empirical evidence carried out by controlled
experiments. For example, Pavlov (1902) showed how classical conditioning can be used to make dog salivate to the sound of a bell.
Classical conditioning is also a reductionist explanation of behavior. This is because complex behavior is broken down into smaller stimulus
- response units of behavior.
Supporters of a reductionist approach say that it is scientific. Breaking complicated behaviors down to small parts means that they can be
scientifically tested. However, some would argue that the reductionist view lacks validity. Thus, whilst reductionism is useful, it can lead to
incomplete explanations.
A final criticism of classical conditioning theory is that it is deterministic. This means that it does not allow for any degree of freewill will in
the individual. According a person has no control over the reactions they have learned from classical conditioning, such as a phobia.
The deterministic approach also has important implications for psychology as a science. Scientists are interested in discovering laws which
can then be used to predict events. However, by creating general laws of behavior, deterministic psychology underestimates the uniqueness
of human beings and their freedom to choose their own destiny.

Kolb - Learning Styles

David Kolb published his learning styles model in 1984 from which he developed his learning style inventory.
Kolb's experiential learning theory works on two levels: a four stage cycle of learning and four separate learning styles. Much of Kolbs
theory is concerned with the learners internal cognitive processes.
Kolb states that learning involves the acquisition of abstract concepts that can be applied flexibly in a range of situations. In Kolbs theory,
the impetus for the development of new concepts is provided by new experiences.
Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience (Kolb, 1984, p. 38).
The Experiential Learning Cycle
Kolb's experiential learning style theory is typically represented by a four stage learning cycle in which the learner 'touches all the bases':
1. Concrete Experience - (a new experience of situation is encountered, or a
reinterpretation of existing experience).
2. Reflective Observation (of the new experience. Of particular importance are any
inconsistencies between experience and understanding).
3. Abstract Conceptualization (Reflection gives rise to a new idea, or a modification
of an existing abstract concept).
4. Active Experimentation (the learner applies them to the world around them to
see what results).
Effective learning is seen when a person progresses through a cycle of four stages: of (1)
having a concrete experience followed by (2) observation of and reflection on that
experience which leads to (3) the formation of abstract concepts (analysis) and
generalizations (conclusions) which are then (4) used to test hypothesis in future
situations, resulting in new experiences.
Kolb (1974) views learning as an integrated process with each stage being
mutually supportive of and feeding into the next. It is possible to enter
the cycle at any stage and follow it through its logical sequence.
However, effective learning only occurs when a learner is able to execute
all four stages of the model. Therefore, no one stage of the cycle is an
effective as a learning procedure on its own.
Learning Styles
Kolb's learning theory (1974) sets out four distinct learning styles, which
are based on a four-stage learning cycle (see above).
Kolb explains that different people naturally prefer a certain single
different learning style. Various factors influence a person's preferred
style. For example, social environment, educational experiences, or the

basic cognitive structure of the individual.

Whatever influences the choice of style, the learning style preference itself is actually the product of two pairs of variables, or two separate
'choices' that we make, which Kolb presented as lines of axis, each with 'conflicting' modes at either end:
A typical presentation of Kolb's two continuums is that the east-west axis is called the Processing Continuum (how we approach a task),
and the north-south axis is called the Perception Continuum (our emotional response, or how we think or feel about it).
Kolb believed that we cannot perform both variables on a single axis at
the same time (e.g. think and feel).
Our learning style is a product of these two choice decisions.
It's often easier to see the construction of Kolb's learning styles in terms
of a two-by-two matrix. Each learning style represents a combination of
two preferred styles. The diagram also highlights Kolb's terminology for
the four learning styles; diverging, assimilating, and converging,
Doing (Active Experimentation AE)

Watching (Reflective Observation - RO)

Feeling (Concrete Experience - CE)

Accommodating (CE/AE)

Diverging (CE/RO)

Thinking (Abstract Conceptualization - AC)

Converging (AC/AE)

Assimilating (AC/RO)

Learning Styles Descriptions

Knowing a person's (and your own) learning style enables learning to be orientated according to the preferred method. That said, everyone
responds to and needs the stimulus of all types of learning styles to one extent or another - it's a matter of using emphasis that fits best with
the given situation and a person's learning style preferences.
Here are brief descriptions of the four Kolb learning styles:
Diverging (feeling and watching - CE/RO)
These people are able to look at things from different perspectives. They are sensitive. They prefer to watch rather than do, tending to gather
information and use imagination to solve problems. They are best at viewing concrete situations at several different viewpoints.
Kolb called this style 'diverging' because these people perform better in situations that require ideas-generation, for example, brainstorming.
People with a diverging learning style have broad cultural interests and like to gather information. They are interested in people, tend to be
imaginative and emotional, and tend to be strong in the arts. People with the diverging style prefer to work in groups, to listen with an open
mind and to receive personal feedback.

Assimilating (watching and thinking - AC/RO)

The Assimilating learning preference is for a concise, logical approach. Ideas and concepts are more important than people. These people
require good clear explanation rather than practical opportunity. They excel at understanding wide-ranging information and organizing it in
a clear logical format.
People with an assimilating learning style are less focused on people and more interested in ideas and abstract concepts. People with this
style are more attracted to logically sound theories than approaches based on practical value.
This learning style is important for effectiveness in information and science careers. In formal learning situations, people with this style
prefer readings, lectures, exploring analytical models, and having time to think things through.
Converging (doing and thinking - AC/AE)
People with a converging learning style can solve problems and will use their learning to find solutions to practical issues. They prefer
technical tasks, and are less concerned with people and interpersonal aspects. People with a converging learning style are best at finding
practical uses for ideas and theories. They can solve problems and make decisions by finding solutions to questions and problems.
People with a converging learning style are more attracted to technical tasks and problems than social or interpersonal issues. A converging
learning style enables specialist and technology abilities. People with a converging style like to experiment with new ideas, to simulate, and
to work with practical applications.
Accommodating (doing and feeling - CE/AE)
The Accommodating learning style is 'hands-on', and relies on intuition rather than logic. These people use other people's analysis, and
prefer to take a practical, experiential approach. They are attracted to new challenges and experiences, and to carrying out plans.
They commonly act on 'gut' instinct rather than logical analysis. People with an accommodating learning style will tend to rely on others for
information than carry out their own analysis. This learning style is prevalent within the general population.
Educational Implications
Both Kolb's (1984) learning stages and cycle could be used by teachers to critically evaluate the learning provision typically available to
students, and to develop more appropriate learning opportunities.
Educators should ensure that activities are designed and carried out in ways that offer each learner the chance to engage in the manner that
suits them best. Also, individuals can be helped to learn more effectively by the identification of their lesser preferred learning styles and the
strengthening of these through the application of the experiential learning cycle.
Ideally, activities and material should be developed in ways that draw on abilities from each stage of the experiential learning cycle and take
the students through the whole process in sequence.

Long Term Memory

Theoretically, the capacity of long term memory could be unlimited, the main constraint on recall being accessibility rather than availability.
Duration might be a few minutes or a lifetime. Suggested encoding modes are semantic (meaning) and visual (pictorial) in the main but can
be acoustic also.
Bahrick et al (1975)investigated what they called very long term memory (VLTM). Nearly 400 participants aged 17 74 were tested.
There were various tests including: A free recall test, where participants tried to remember names of people in a graduate class. A photo
recognition test, consisting of 50 pictures. A name recognition test for ex-school friends.
Results of the study showed that participants who were tested within 15 years of graduation were about 90% accurate in identifying names
and faces. After 48 years they were accurate 80% for verbal and 70% visual. Free recall was worse. After 15 years it was 60% and after 48
years it was 30% accurate.
One of the earliest and most influential distinctions of long term memory was proposed by Tulving (1972). He proposed a distinction
between episodic, semantic and procedural memory.
o Procedural memory is a part of the long-term memory is responsible for knowing how to do things, i.e. memory of motor skills.
It does not involve conscious (i.e. its unconscious - automatic) thought is not declarative. For example, procedural memory would
involve knowledge of how to ride a bicycle.

Semantic memory is a part of the long-term memory responsible for storing information about the world. This includes
knowledge about the meaning of words, as well as general knowledge. For example, London is the capital of England. It involves
conscious thought and is declarative.

Episodic memory is a part of the long-term memory responsible for storing information about events (i.e. episodes) that we
have experienced in out lives. It involves conscious thought and is declarative. An example would be a memory of our 1st day at
Cohen and Squire (1980) drew a distinction betweendeclarative knowledge and procedural knowledge. Procedural knowledge
involves knowing how to do things. It included skills, such as knowing how to playing the piano, ride a bike; tie your shoes and other
motor skills. It does not involve conscious (i.e. automatic) thought. For example, we brush our teeth with little or no awareness of the skills
Whereas, declarative knowledge involves knowing that, for example London is the capital of England, zebras are animals, your mums
birthday etc. Recalling information from declarative memory involves some degree of conscious effort information is consciously brought
to mind and declared.
The knowledge that we hold in semantic and episodic memories focuseson knowing that something is the case (i.e. declarative).
For example, we might have a semantic memory for knowing that Paris is the capital of France, and we might have an episodic memory for
knowing that we caught the bus to college today.
Evidence for the distinction between declarative and procedural memory has come from research on patients with amnesia. Typically,
amnesic patients have great difficulty in retaining episodic and semantic information following the onset of amnesia. Their memory for
events and knowledge acquired before the onset of the condition tends to remain intact, but they cant store new episodic or semantic
memories. In other words, it appears that their ability to retain declarative information is impaired.
However, their procedural memory appears to be largely unaffected. They can recall skills they have already learned (e.g. riding a bike) and
acquire new skills (e.g. learning to drive).

Skinner -Operant Conditioning

By the 1920s John B. Watson had left academic psychology and otherbehaviorists were becoming influential, proposing new forms of
learning other than classical conditioning.

Perhaps the most important of these was Burrhus Frederic Skinner. Although, for obvious reasons he is more commonly known as B.F.
Skinner's views were slightly less extreme than those of Watson (1913). Skinner believed that we do have such a thing as a mind, but that it
is simply more productive to study observable behavior rather than internal mental events.
Skinner believed that the best way to understand behavior is to look at the causes of an action and its consequences. He called this approach
operant conditioning.
Skinner's theory of operant conditioning was based on the work of Thorndike(1905). Edward Thorndike studied learning in animals using a
puzzle box to propose the theory known as the 'Law of Effect'.
BF Skinner: Operant Conditioning
Skinner is regarded as the father of Operant Conditioning, but his work was based on Thorndikes law of effect. Skinner introduced a new
term into the Law of Effect - Reinforcement. Behavior which is reinforced tends to be repeated (i.e. strengthened); behavior which is not
reinforced tends to die out-or be extinguished (i.e. weakened).
Skinner (1948) studied operant conditioning by conducting experiments using animals which he placed in a 'Skinner Box' which was similar
to Thorndikes puzzle box.
B.F. Skinner (1938) coined the term operant conditioning; it means roughly
changing of behavior by the use of reinforcement which is given after the desired
response. Skinner identified three types of responses or operant that can follow
Neutral operants: responses from the environment that neither increase nor
decrease the probability of a behavior being repeated.
Reinforcers: Responses from the environment that increase the probability of a
behavior being repeated. Reinforcers can be either positive or negative.
Punishers: Responses from the environment that decrease the likelihood of a
behavior being repeated. Punishment weakens behavior.
We can all think of examples of how our own behavior has been affected by reinforcers and punishers. As a child you probably tried out a
number of behaviors and learned from their consequences.
For example, if when you were younger you tried smoking at school, and the chief consequence was that you got in with the crowd you
always wanted to hang out with, you would have been positively reinforced (i.e. rewarded) and would be likely to repeat the behavior. If,
however, the main consequence was that you were caught, caned, suspended from school and your parents became involved you would most
certainly have been punished, and you would consequently be much less likely to smoke now.
Skinner showed how positive reinforcement worked by placing a hungry rat in his Skinner box. The box contained a lever in the side and as
the rat moved about the box it would accidentally knock the lever. Immediately it did so a food pellet would drop into a container next to the
lever. The rats quickly learned to go straight to the lever after a few times of being put in the box. The consequence of receiving food if they
pressed the lever ensured that they would repeat the action again and again.
Positive reinforcement strengthens a behavior by providing a consequence an individual finds rewarding. For example, if your teacher gives
you 5 each time you complete your homework (i.e. a reward) you are more likely to repeat this behavior in the future, thus strengthening
the behavior of completing your homework.
Negative Reinforcement
The removal of an unpleasant reinforcer can also strengthen behavior. This is known as negative reinforcement because it is the removal of
an adverse stimulus which is rewarding to the animal or person. Negative reinforcement strengthens behavior because it stops or removes
an unpleasant experience.
For example, if you do not complete your homework you give your teacher 5. You will complete your homework to avoid paying 5, thus
strengthening the behavior of completing your homework.
Skinner showed how negative reinforcement worked by placing a rat in his Skinner box and then subjecting it to an unpleasant electric
current which caused it some discomfort. As the rat moved about the box it would accidentally knock the lever. Immediately it did so the
electric current would be switched off. The rats quickly learned to go straight to the lever after a few times of being put in the box. The
consequence of escaping the electric current ensured that they would repeat the action again and again.
In fact Skinner even taught the rats to avoid the electric current by turning on a light just before the electric current came on. The rats soon
learned to press the lever when the light came on because they knew that this would stop the electric current being switched on.
These two learned responses are known as Escape Learning and Avoidance Learning.
Punishment (weakens behavior)
Punishment is defined as the opposite of reinforcement since it is designed to weaken or eliminate a response rather than increase it.
Like reinforcement, punishment can work either by directly applying an unpleasant stimulus like a shock after a response or by removing a
potentially rewarding stimulus, for instance, deducting someones pocket money to punish undesirable behavior.
Note: It is not always easy to distinguish between punishment and negative reinforcement.
Behavior Modification
Behavior modification is a set of therapies / techniques based on operant conditioning (Skinner, 1938, 1953). The main principle comprises
changing environmental events that are related to a person's behavior. For example, the reinforcement of desired behaviors and ignoring or
punishing undesired ones.
This is not as simple as it sounds always reinforcing desired behavior, for example, is basically bribery.
There are different types of positive reinforcements. Primary reinforcement is when a reward strengths a behavior by itself. Secondary
reinforcement is when something strengthens a behavior because it leads to a primary reinforcer.
Examples of behavior modification therapy include token economy and behavior shaping
Token Economy
Token economy is a system in which targeted behaviors are reinforced with tokens (secondary reinforcers) and are later exchanged for
rewards (primary reinforcers).
Tokens can be in the form of fake money, buttons, poker chips, stickers, etc. While rewards can range anywhere from snacks to privileges or
Token economy has been found to be very effective in managing psychiatric patients. However, the patients can become over reliant on the
tokens, making it difficult for them to adjust to society once they leave prisons, hospital etc.
Teachers also use token economy at primary school by giving young children stickers to reward good behavior.
Operant Conditioning in the Classroom

Behavior modification therapy is much used in clinical and educational psychology, particularly with people with learning difficulties. In the
conventional learning situation it applies largely to issues of class- and student management, rather than to learning content. It is very
relevant to shaping skill performance.
A simple way of giving positive reinforcement in behavior modification is in providing compliments, approval, encouragement, and
affirmation. A ratio of five compliments for every one criticism is generally seen as being the most effective in altering behavior in a desired
Operant Conditioning Summary
Looking at Skinner's classic studies on pigeons / rat's behavior we can identify some of the major assumptions of the behaviorist approach.
Psychology should be seen as a science, to be studied in a scientific manner. Skinner's study of behavior in rats was conducted under
carefully controlled laboratory conditions.
Behaviorism is primarily concerned with observable behavior, as opposed to internal events like thinking and emotion. Note that Skinner
did not say that the rats learned to press a lever because they wanted food. He instead concentrated on describing the easily observed
behavior that the rats acquired.
The major influence on human behavior is learning from our environment. In the Skinner study, because food followed a particular
behavior the rats learned to repeat that behavior, e.g. operant conditioning.
There is little difference between the learning that takes place in humans and that in other animals. Therefore research (e.g. operant
conditioning) can be carried out on animals (Rats / Pigeons) as well as on humans. Skinner proposed that the way humans learn behavior is
much the same as the way the rats learned to press a lever.
So, if your layperson's idea of psychology has always been of people in laboratories wearing white coats and watching hapless rats try to
negotiate mazes in order to get to their dinner, then you are probably thinking of behavioral psychology.
Behaviorism and its offshoots tend to be among the most scientific of thepsychological perspectives. The emphasis of behavioral psychology
is on how we learn to behave in certain ways. We are all constantly learning new behaviors and how to modify our existing behavior.
Behavioral psychology is the psychological approach that focuses on how this learning takes place.
Critical Evaluation
Operant conditioning can be used to explain a wide variety of behavior, from the process of learning, to addiction and language acquisition.
It also has practical application (such as token economy) which can be applied in classrooms, prisons and psychiatric hospitals.
However, operant conditioning fails to taken into account the role of inherited and cognitive factors in learning, and thus is an incomplete
explanation of the learning process in humans and animals.
For example, Kohler (1924) found that primates often seem to solve problems in a flash of insight rather than be trial and error learning.
Alsosocial learning theory (Bandura, 1977) suggests that humans can learn automatically through observation rather than through personal
The use of animal research in operant conditioning studies also raises the issue of extrapolation. Some psychologists argue we cannot
generalize from studies on animals to humans as their anatomy and physiology is different from humans, and they cannot think about their
experiences and invoke reason, patience, memory or self-comfort.

Edward Thorndike
Edward Thorndike (1874 - 1949) is famous in psychology for his work on learning theory that lead to the development of operant
conditioning within behaviorism.
Whereas classical conditioning depends on developing associations between events, operant conditioning involves learning from the
consequences of our behavior. Skinner wasnt the first psychologist to study learning by consequences. Indeed, Skinner's theory of operant
conditioning is built on the ideas of Edward Thorndike.
Thorndike (1898) studied learning in animals (usually cats). He devised a classic experiment in which he used a puzzle box (see fig. 1) to
empirically test the laws of learning.
Fig 1: Simplified graph of the result of the puzzle box
He placed a cat in the puzzle box, which was encourage
to escape to reach a scrap of fish placed outside.
Thorndike would put a cat into the box and time how
long it took to escape. The cats experimented with
different ways to escape the puzzle box and reach the
Eventually they would stumble upon the lever which
opened the cage. When it had escaped it was put in
again, and once more the time it took to escape was
noted. In successive trials the cats would learn that pressing the lever would have favorable consequences and they would adopt this
behavior, becoming increasingly quick at pressing the lever.
Edward Thorndike put forward a Law of effect which stated that any behavior that is followed by pleasant consequences is likely to be
repeated, and any behavior followed by unpleasant consequences is likely to be stopped.

Use Visual Thinking to Facilitate Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is one of those terms that is bantered around quite often when talking about
the skills students need for the 21st century and to excel in academic pursuits, life and work.
Yet, its probably one of the toughest set of skills to define, model and teach. Critical Thinking
includes good problem solving skills, the ability to evaluate facts, analyze information with a
critical eye, and synthesize that information and data. Then, critical thinking is the ability to
express ideas and opinions in an organized, articulate and supported manner. These are all
concepts that must be taught in many different ways and at various levels of depth in order for
students to internalize these skills. In this post, I would like to look at critical thinking from
one perspective and start to explore how visual thinking techniques can help students develop
critical thinking skills.

Defining Critical Thinking

According to Developing Minds: A Resource Book for Teaching Thinking by Arthur L. Costa, critical thinking has three broad dispositions,
making a critical thinker someone who:

seeks true and justified beliefs by exploring alternative solutions and evaluating the justified facts
makes an effort to express positions honestly and clearly by being transparent about intent and aware of the whole situation
and shows concern for the dignity and worth of every person by listening to others reasoning and taking into account others
Costas definition of a critical thinker and his resource book cover a broad base of activities and thought-provoking exercises to help develop
critical thinkers. Some of these incorporate visual thinking techniques to help students develop as critical thinkers.
Think Critically with Concept Maps
Concept mapping is a visual thinking technique developed by Joseph Novak that is best taught and created with software such as
Inspiration, Kidspiration or Webspiration Classroom service. This methodology coupled with our visual learning tools can help
students process ideas, concepts and information while assisting in students ability to think critically.
Concept maps help students understand new information and associate it to prior knowledge. It also helps students break down information
into bite-sized pieces in order to better see patterns, connections and gaps in thinking. Concept maps engage your students in critical
thinking while moving through the processes of exploring new ideas, researching classroom topics, analyzing unit information and creating
alternative solutions to problems. It also teaches students a thinking methodology that they can apply to critical thinking needs in future
educational courses, careers and life.
Following in line with Costas definition of a critical thinker, concept maps and visual thinking help students:


compare, contrast and evaluate alternative beliefs, information and facts in order to draw conclusions
express different positions in a clear, organized and detailed manner
and make sense out of different perspectives and how they relate to one another.
So, while youre teaching critical thinking skills, turn to a concept map to facilitate the process!

B l o o m ' s R e v i s e d Ta x o n o m y
Lorin Anderson, a former student of Bloom, and David Krathwohl revisited the cognitive domain in the mid-nineties and
made some changes, with perhaps the three most prominent ones being (Anderson, Krathwohl, Airasian, Cruikshank,
Mayer, Pintrich, Raths, Wittrock, 2000):

changing the names in the six categories from noun to verb forms

rearranging them as shown in the chart below

creating a processes and levels of knowledge matrix

The chart shown below compares the original taxonomy with the revised one:

This new taxonomy reflects a more active form of thinking and is perhaps
more accurate. The new version of Bloom's Taxonomy, with examples and
keywords is shown below, while the old version may be found here

Table of the Revised Cognitive Domain


Examples, key words (verbs), and technologies for learning


Examples: Recite a policy. Quote prices from memory to a

customer. Recite the safety rules.
Remembering: Recall or retrieve previous learned

Key Words: defines, describes, identifies, knows, labels,

lists, matches, names, outlines, recalls, recognizes,
reproduces, selects, states
Technologies: book marking, flash cards, rote learning based
on repetition, reading

Examples: Rewrite the principles of test writing. Explain in

one's own words the steps for performing a complex task.
Translate an equation into a computer spreadsheet.
Understanding: Comprehending the meaning,
translation, interpolation, and interpretation of
instructions and problems. State a problem in one's
own words.

Key Words: comprehends, converts, defends, distinguishes,

estimates, explains, extends, generalizes, gives an example,
infers, interprets, paraphrases, predicts, rewrites,
summarizes, translates
Technologies: create an analogy, participating in cooperative
learning , taking notes, storytelling, Internet search

Examples: Use a manual to calculate an employee's vacation

time. Apply laws of statistics to evaluate the reliability of a
written test.
Applying: Use a concept in a new situation or
unprompted use of an abstraction. Applies what
was learned in the classroom into novel situations
in the work place.

Key Words: applies, changes, computes, constructs,

demonstrates, discovers, manipulates, modifies, operates,
predicts, prepares, produces, relates, shows, solves, uses
Technologies: collaborative learning , create a process, blog,

Examples: Troubleshoot a piece of equipment by using

logical deduction. Recognize logical fallacies in
reasoning. Gathers information from a department and selects
the required tasks for training.
Analyzing: Separates material or concepts into
component parts so that its organizational
structure may be understood. Distinguishes
between facts and inferences.

Key Words: analyzes, breaks down, compares,

contrasts, diagrams, deconstructs, differentiates,
discriminates, distinguishes, identifies, illustrates, infers,
outlines, relates, selects, separates
Technologies: Fishbowls , debating, questioning what
happened, run a test

Examples: Select the most effective solution. Hire the most

qualified candidate. Explain and justify a new budget.
Evaluating: Make judgments about the value of
ideas or materials.

Key Words: appraises, compares, concludes, contrasts,

criticizes, critiques, defends, describes, discriminates,
evaluates, explains, interprets, justifies, relates, summarizes,
Technologies: survey, blogging

Creating: Builds a structure or pattern from

Examples: Write a company operations or process manual.

Design a machine to perform a specific task. Integrates

training from several sources to solve a problem. Revises and
process to improve the outcome.
diverse elements. Put parts together to form a
whole, with emphasis on creating a new meaning or

Key Words: categorizes, combines, compiles, composes,

creates, devises, designs, explains, generates, modifies,
organizes, plans, rearranges, reconstructs, relates,
reorganizes, revises, rewrites, summarizes, tells, writes
Technologies: Create a new model, write an essay, network
with others

Cognitive Processes and Levels of Knowledge Matrix

Bloom's Revised Taxonomy not only improved the usability of it by using action words, but added a cognitive and
knowledge matrix.
While Bloom's original cognitive taxonomy did mention three levels of knowledge or products that could be processed, they
were not discussed very much and remained one-dimensional:

Factual - The basic elements students must know to be acquainted with a discipline or solve problems.

Conceptual The interrelationships among the basic elements within a larger structure that enable them to function together.

Procedural - How to do something, methods of inquiry, and criteria for using skills, algorithms, techniques, and methods.

In Krathwohl and Anderson's revised version, the authors combine the cognitive processes with the above three levels of
knowledge to form a matrix. In addition, they added another level of knowledge - metacognition:

Metacognitive Knowledge of cognition in general, as well as awareness and knowledge of ones own cognition.

When the cognitive and knowledge dimensions are arranged in a matrix, as shown below, it makes a nice performance aid
for creating performance objectives:
The Cognitive Dimension
The Knowledge

Remember Understand Apply Analyze Evaluate Create

However, others have identified five contents or artifacts (Clark, Chopeta, 2004; Clark, Mayer, 2007):

Facts - Specific and unique data or instance.

Concepts - A class of items, words, or ideas that are known by a common name, includes multiple specific examples, shares
common features. There are two types of concepts: concrete and abstract.

Processes - A flow of events or activities that describe how things work rather than how to do things. There are normally two
types: business processes that describe work flows and technical processes that describe how things work in equipment or nature.
They may be thought of as the big picture, of how something works.

Procedures - A series of step-by-step actions and decisions that result in the achievement of a task. There are two types of
actions: linear and branched.

Principles - Guidelines, rules, and parameters that govern. It includes not only what should be done, but also what should not be
done. Principles allow one to make predictions and draw implications. Given an effect, one can infer the cause of a phenomena.
Principles are the basic building blocks of causal models or theoretical models (theories).

Thus, the new matrix would look similar to this:

The Cognitive Dimension
The Knowledge

Remember Understand Apply Analyze Evaluate Create

An example matrix that has been filled in might look something like this:
The Knowledge

Remember Understand
















demonstrate contrast









give an








differentiates conclude


proper use








As teachers and as people part of the world, we ask questions to our learners and people everyday. Not all questions are on the same
level. Some questions are easy to answer where other questions may require a great deal of thinking.
Bloom (1956) has provided us with his taxonomy to assist us to compose questions on different levels of thinking. This taxonomy ranges
from lower to higher levels of cognitive thinking. These levels are (I will shortly provide more detail of each level):
(1) Knowledge
(2) Comprehension
(3) Application
(4) Analysis
(5) Synthesis
(6) Evaluation
Dalton and Smith[1] (1986) provide us with the following examples:



What happened after...?

How many...?
Who was it that...?
Can you name the...?
Describe what happened at...?
Who spoke to...?
Can you tell why...?
Find the meaning of...?
What is...?
Which is true or false...?


Make a list of the main events..

Make a timeline of events.
Make a facts chart.
Write a list of any pieces of information you
can remember.
List all the .... in the story/article/reading
Make a chart showing...




Can you write in your own

Can you write a brief outline...?
What do you think could of
happened next...?
Who do you think...?
What was the main idea...?
Who was the key character...?
Can you distinguish between...?
What differences exist between...?


Cut out or draw pictures to show a

particular event.
Illustrate what you think the main idea was.
Make a cartoon strip showing the sequence
of events.
Write and perform a play based on the
Retell the story in your words.
Paint a picture of some aspect you like.
Write a summary report of an event.
Prepare a flow chart to illustrate the

Can you provide an example of

what you mean...?
Can you provide a definition for...?

sequence of events.
Make a colouring book.




Do you know another instance

Could this have happened in...?
Can you group by characteristics
such as...?
What factors would you change
Can you apply the method used to
some experience of your own...?
What questions would you ask
From the information given, can
you develop a set of instructions
Would this information be useful if
you had a ...?


Construct a model to demonstrate how it

will work.
Make a scrapbook about the areas of study.
Take a collection of photographs to
demonstrate a particular point.
Make up a puzzle game suing the ideas
from the study area.
Make a clay model of an item in the
Design a market strategy for your product
using a known strategy as a model.
Paint a mural using the same materials.
Write a textbook about... for others.




Which events could have

I ... happened, what might the
ending have been?
How was this similar to...?
What was the underlying theme
What do you see as other
possible outcomes?
Why did ... changes occur?
Can you compare your ... with that
presented in...?
Can you explain what must have
happened when...?
How is ... similar to ...?
What are some of the problems
Can you distinguish between...?
What were some of the motives
What was the turning point in the
What was the problem with...?


Design a questionnaire to gather

Write a commercial to sell a new product.
Conduct an investigation to produce
information to support a view.
Make a flow chart to show the critical
Construct a graph to illustrate selected
Make a family tree showing relationships.
Put on a play about the study area.
Write a biography of the study person.
Prepare a report about the area of study.
Arrange a party. Make all the arrangements
and record the steps needed.
Review a work of art in terms of form,
colour and texture.
Review a film




Is there a better solution to...

Judge the value of...
Can you defend your position
Do you think ... is a good or a bad
How would you have handled...?
What changes to ... would you
Do you believe?
Are you a ... person?
How would you feel if...?


Prepare a list of criteria to judge a ... show.

Indicate priority and ratings.
Conduct a debate about an issue of special
Make a booklet about 5 rules you see as
important. Convince others.
Form a panel to discuss views, e.g.
"Learning at School.".
Write a letter to ... advising on changes
needed at...
Write a report.
Prepare a case to present your view



How effective are...?

What do you think about...?




Can you design a ... to ...?

Why not compose a song
Can you see a possible solution
If you had access to all resources
how would you deal with...?
Why don't you devise your own
to deal with...?
What would happen if...?
How many ways can you...?
Can you create new and unusual
uses for...?
Can you write a new recipe for a
tasty dish?
Can you develop a proposal
which would...


Invent a machine to do a specific task.

Design a building to house your study.
Create a new product. Give it a name and
plan a marketing campaign.
Write about your feelings in relation to...
Write a TV show, play, puppet show, role
play, song or pantomime about...?
Design a record, book, or magazine cover
Make up a new language code and write
material suing it.
Sell an idea.
Devise a way to...
Compose a rhythm or put new words to a
known melody.

Bloom's Taxonomy
Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, developed in 1956 by Benjamin Bloom of the University of Chicago, provides three categories
of objectives: affective, psychomotor, and cognitive. For this newsletter, we'll just focus on the cognitive. The importance of the taxonomy
for teachers is that it can serve to remind us of what we're asking students to do and why. In the cognitive "domain," Bloom arranges the
objectives in increasing complexity, from "simple" knowledge or remembering through evaluation. The kinds of words we use in
assignments often signal the level of complexity that we're asking of our students. Although it seems reductionist, this is one of the great
lessons of Bloom.
If you do a little web searching, you'll find thousands of other examples of how Bloom's Taxonomy can help inform your teaching. Below is
one interpretation of the general taxonomy with examples of the kinds of questions appropriate for each level.
1. Knowledge
The recall of specifics and universals, involving little more than bringing to mind the appropriate material.

Define the term "short term memory."


Identify the five major Prophets of the Old Testament.


Who won the Battle of Waterloo?


Write the equation for the ideal gas law.


What are the five sections of a research report?


List the characteristics peculiar to the Cubist movement.


What are gram-positive bacteria?


Define what is evil about Darth Vader. Write an original song to describe your feelings.

2. Comprehension
The ability to process knowledge on a low level such that the knowledge can be reproduced or communicated without
verbatim repetition.

From a "story problem" description, set up the mathematical manipulation needed to solve the problem.


Describe in prose what is shown in graph form.


In one sentence give the point of a written passage.


From a blueprint describe the article depicted.


Given an experimental paradigm, state the question being asked.


Translate the following paragraph from "Der Spiegel" into good English.


Identify each character as good or evil and describe the qualities as they relate to popular characters on a TV series.

3. Application
The use of abstractions in concrete situations.

Relate the principle of reinforcement to classroom interactions.


Describe an experiment to answer the question of the effects of weight on the fall of an object.


Determine the centroid of a plane figure.


Write a short poem in iambic pentameter.


Train a rat to press a bar.


Apply shading to produce depth in a drawing.


Reduce the following circuit by Thevenin's theorem and find the current.


Write a travel loge for the places Luke visited in his galaxy.

4. Analysis
The breakdown of a situation into its component parts.

Identify the assumptions underlying a geometric proof.


Given an argument for the abolition of guns, enumerate the positive and negative points presented.


Analyze the following oscillator circuit and determine the frequency of oscillation.


Given a research design, identify the predictor and criterion variables and the constraints on external and internal validity.


Compare bee drones to the storm troopers and prepare an oral presentation to explain your findings.


5. . Evaluation
The making of judgments about the value of material/methods.

Given an argument on any position, enumerate the logical fallacies in that argument.


Given the data available on a research question, take a position and defend it.


Given any research study, evaluate the appropriateness of the conclusions reached based on the data presented.


In a given clinical situation, select the most reasonable intervention and predict the main effects and possible side effects.


Evaluate a work of art, giving the reasons for your evaluation.


On the basis of operating data for the past six months, decide whether the company should buy steel used in our manufacturing
process from Company A or Company B.


Lead a panel discussion on the values of pets.


Write an editorial about the advantages and disadvantages of having a pet



10. Have a dog and cat show. Present winner awards and ribbons.
12. Explain what the expression, May the force be with you means to you.
6. Synthesis
The putting together of elements and parts to form a whole.

Write a logically organized argument in favor of a given position.


Given a set of data derive a hypothesis to explain them.


Given two opposing theories design an experiment to compare them.


Design an overhead condenser for a distillation column which will condense 75.0 percent of the vapor. Specify number and size of
tubes, flow rate of cooling water required, and control equipment for maintaining necessary pressure in shell-side of condenser.


Construct an original work which incorporates five common materials in sculpture.


Write a short story relating a personal experience in the style of a picaresque novel.


Develop a cartoon based on the relationship between an animal and a child.


Invent a toy or machine that would help dogs or cats live a healthier and happier life.


Create a TV game show about domesticated animals.


Develop a game, which has as its theme, good vs. evil

What is MERS-CoV?
The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. So far, all the cases have been
linked to countries in and near the Arabian Peninsula, where many Filipinos work.
In April of last year, an OFW who arrived in Manila from the United Arab Emirates tested positive for the virus, prompting the Department
of Health (DOH) to isolate the patient and those who fetched him at the airport.
That same month, the DOH sent an epidemiology expert and an infectious disease specialist to the UAE to assist OFWs there after a Filipino
health worker died and six others were found to be positive.
In a subsequent advisory, the DOH urged travelers who returned home from the Arabian Peninsula to monitor their health for at least 14
So what are the symptoms to watch out for?
The number one red flag is fever with cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, or difficulty of breathing. Other accompanying symptoms are
fatigue, headache, chills, vomiting, or diarrhea.
The virus spreads from ill people to others through close contact such as caring for, or living with an infected person. But there is no
evidence of sustained spreading in community settings.
The DOH says proper handwashing is one way to prevent contracting the virus. Sounds simple enough, but prevention is better than cure.
And in this case, there is still no cure, because as of the moment, there is no vaccine against MERS-CoV.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 30 percent of people confirmed to have MERS-CoV ended up dead.
Aside from the Philippines, countries with travel associated cases include the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and