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Critical evaluation of whether certain assumptions are present in Erikson's psychosocial development theory and how important these assumptions are in the context of South Africa.

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Introduction

Course: Development Psychology Essay Topic: Critical evaluation of whether certain assumptions are present in Erikson's psychosocial development theory and how important these assumptions are in the context of South Africa. Word count: 1118 (excluding reference list) Three assumptions present in developmental theories, as mentioned by Duncan, van Niekerk and Mufumadi (2003) will be described in a concise fashion. The assumptions, 'development follows a predictable pattern', 'human beings are resilient', and 'development is a function of the interaction between innate and environmental functions', will also be examined insofar as they relate to the issues and concepts of Erikson's theory. Furthermore, these assumptions and the theoretical concepts of Erikson's theory will be discussed in terms of their importance in a South African context. Interwoven with this, is the argument that although Erikson's theory has validity in certain instances, it relies on specific assumptions to hold true, and is ultimately convincing and applicable only within a definite societal context. Duncan et al (2003) mention the assumption 'human development follows a predictable pattern'. What they mean is physical, cognitive and psychosocial processes of development in humans tend to follow a particular trend. This assumption is reflected in Erikson's socioemotional theory, as evidenced by him systematically laying down definite psychosocial stages of development, which are inextricably linked to specific age periods in a lifespan (Santrock, 2003). ...read more.

Middle

In that scenario, the assumption 'development follows a predictable pattern' would apply (certainly the first four stages). In the current South African context however, application of this theory based on this assumption would be, in the author's opinion, erroneous, because of the factors highlighted in the previous paragraph. Following on from this, the next assumption to be examined is 'human beings are resilient'. What this means is despite experiencing an adverse environment during their development, people have the potential to become healthy individuals in the psychosocial sense of the word (Duncan et al, 2003). Erikson does not refer much to the resilience of humans in his theory, except to state that people can go back and positively resolve stages that were previously negatively actualized. (Louw et al, 1999). An example of human resilience would be, despite many South Africans having lived with political, racial and educational oppression from childhood, some of them have risen above their circumstances, educated themselves and gone on to lead successful lives financially, socially and emotionally as adults (Jordaan & Jordaan, 1998). As quoted in Freeman's article "The fact that so many people have managed to survive abominable circumstances is, as Straker et al. (1992) put it, 'a tribute to the human spirit's capacity to deal with adversity'"(1993, p.158). Therefore, human resilience is important when applied to the South African context, however has limited presence in Erikson's theory. ...read more.

Conclusion

Reference List: Chisholm, L. (2005). The state of South Africa's schools. In J. Daniel, R. Southall and J. Lutchman (eds.). State of the Nation. South Africa 2004-2005. Cape Town: HSRC Press. Duncan, N., van Niekerk, A. and Mufumadi, J. (2003). Developmental Psychology: A lifespan perspective. In L. Nichols (ed), Introduction to Psychology. Landsdown: UCT Press. Erasmus, Z. (2005). Race and identity in the nation. In J. Daniel, R. Southall and J. Lutchman (eds.). State of the Nation. South Africa 2004-2005. Cape Town: HSRC Press. Freeman, M. (2003). "Seeking identity - township youth and social development" South African Journal of Psychology 23: 4, 157-166 Freeman, M. (2004). HIV/Aids in developing countries: Heading towards a mental health and consequent social disaster? South African Journal of Psychology, 34 (1). 139-159. Hergenhahn, B.R. (1994). An Introduction to Theories of Personality. (4th Ed.) Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall. Jordaan, W. & Jordaan, J. (1998). People in Context (3rd Ed.). Sandton: Heinemann Higher & Further Education (Pty) Ltd Louw, D.A., van Ede D.M. and Louw, A.E. (1999). Human Development (2nd Ed.). Pretoria : Kagiso Publishers. Richter, R. (2003) The Impact of HIV/AIDS on the development of children. Paper presented at the seminar : HIV/AIDS, Vulnerability and children : What does it mean for Southern Africa's security?, Institute for Security Studies, Pretoria, April. Santrock, J.W. (2003). Psychology (7th Ed.). Dallas: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 1 ...read more.

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The essay starts with a good introduction and the writer references the work well. However, there is too little detail in the rest of the work. First of all Erickson's psychosocial development theory needs to be explained more fully by discussing the development of trust, autonomy, independence, shame, fear etc.

Although 'assumptions' are mentioned there is no real connection between Erickson's stage theory, assumptions and South Africa.

The writer needs to improve this work by making a well structured plan.

Score

1 star

Marked by teacher Linda Penn 01/05/2013

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