Classical Theories of Social and Personality Development.

Social and personality development is a complex process that takes place throughout our lifetime. There are many different theories that have been proposed to explain how we develop as individuals, but three of the most influential theories are Psychoanalytic theory, Social Learning theory, and Cognitive-Developmental theory. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at these three theories and how they have helped to shape our understanding of social and personality development. We will also explore some of the criticisms of these theories and how they have been challenged in recent years.

Classical Theories of Social and Personality Development.

The Classical Theories of Social and Personality Development are some of the oldest theories in Psychology. These theories were developed during the early years of psychology, when scientists were just beginning to understand the human mind and behavior. The Classical Theories include the Psychodynamic Theory, Behaviorism, and Social Cognitive Theory.

The Psychodynamic Theory was developed by Sigmund Freud. Freud believed that our personality is shaped by our unconscious mind. He believed that there are three parts to our personality: the id, ego, and superego. The id is the part of our personality that is driven by our basic needs and desires. The ego is the part of our personality that helps us balance our need for gratification with reality. The superego is the part of our personality that internalizes society’s rules and standards of behavior. Freud believed that we go through different stages of development, each stage marked by a conflict between these three parts of our personality.

Behaviorism was developed by John B. Watson and B. F. Skinner. Watson believed that all behavior is learned through conditioning. Skinner agreed with Watson, but he also believed that operant conditioning plays a role in learning new behaviors. Operant conditioning occurs when we are reinforced or punished for engaging in certain behaviors. Reinforcement increases the likelihood that a behavior will be repeated, while punishment decreases the likelihood that a behavior will be repeated.

Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory.

Freud’s psychoanalytic theory is one of the most influential and controversial theories in the field of psychology. Freud’s theory suggests that human behavior is shaped by unconscious drives and desires, and that much of what we do is motivated by our need to satisfy these drives.

Freud believed that our personality development is shaped by our early childhood experiences. He suggested that we go through a number of different stages of development, each characterized by a different conflict that we must resolve. For example, in the oral stage, we are primarily focused on satisfying our needs for food and drink. In the anal stage, we learn to control our bodily functions. And in the phallic stage, we begin to develop sexual feelings and attractions.

Freud’s theory has been both praised and criticized by psychologists. Some have argued that it provides a helpful framework for understanding human behavior. Others have critiqued Freud’s ideas as being too simplistic or reductionistic.

Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory.

Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory is one of the most influential theories of social and personality development. The theory was first proposed by Erik Erikson in the 1950s, and it has since been expanded upon by many other theorists.

Erikson’s theory states that every person goes through eight distinct stages of development, each characterized by a different psychosocial crisis. These crises must be successfully resolved in order for a person to develop properly. If a crisis is not resolved, it can lead to problems in later life.

The first stage of development is trust vs. mistrust, which occurs in infancy. During this stage, infants learn to trust or mistrust others based on their experiences with caregivers. If caregivers are consistently responsive and supportive, infants will learn to trust others. If caregivers are neglectful or abusive, infants will learn to mistrust others.

The second stage of development is autonomy vs. shame and doubt, which occurs in early childhood. During this stage, children learn to become more independent and self-reliant. If parents encourage independence and provide support when needed, children will develop a sense of autonomy. If parents are overbearing or critical, children may develop shame and doubt about their abilities.

The third stage of development is initiative vs guilt, which occurs during middle childhood. During this stage, children become more aware of the consequences of their actions and begin to plan for the future. If parents encourage initiative and provide guidance when needed,

Jean Piaget’s Cognitive Developmental Theory.

According to Jean Piaget’s cognitive developmental theory, children progress through four distinct stages of cognitive development: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational.

During the sensorimotor stage, which lasts from birth to approximately 2 years of age, children learn about the world around them through their senses and motor skills. They gradually develop an understanding of object permanence – that is, that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be seen or heard.

The preoperational stage, from approximately 2 to 7 years of age, is characterized by egocentric thinking; that is, children at this stage are unable to take another person’s perspective. They also have difficulty understanding concepts such as conservation (the principle that a quantity remains the same despite changes in its appearance).

From 7 to 11 years of age, children enter the concrete operational stage, during which they begin to think more logically and systematically. They are now able to take into account other people’s perspectives and to understand conservation principles. However, their thinking is still limited to concrete objects and events.

Finally, during the formal operational stage, which begins around age 12 and continues into adulthood, individuals are capable of abstract thought. They can reason hypothetically and make plans for the future.

Lawrence Kohlberg’s Moral Developmental Theory.

Lawrence Kohlberg’s Moral Developmental Theory posits that there are six distinct stages of moral development, each marked by increasing levels of sophistication and cognitive complexity.

The first stage, known as the “preconventional” stage, is characterized by a focus on self-interest and a lack of understanding of social rules and norms. Children at this stage are egocentric, seeing the world from their own perspective only.

The second stage, known as the “conventional” stage, is characterized by a focus on conformity to social rules and norms. Children at this stage begin to see the world from the perspective of others and learn to take into account the consequences of their actions on others.

The third stage, known as the “postconventional” or “principled” stage, is characterized by a focus on moral principles and an understanding of abstract concepts such as justice. Children at this stage are capable of thinking about morality in a principled way and making ethical decisions based on universal standards.

Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory.

Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory posits that people learn by observing others. This theory has had a major impact on the field of education, and has been used to explain how children acquire social skills and why they sometimes display aggressive behavior.

The theory has four main components:

1. Observational learning: People learn by observing others.

2. Modeling: People imitate the behavior of those they observe.

3. Reinforcement: People are more likely to continue imitating a behavior if it is rewarded.

4. Self-efficacy: People have beliefs about their own abilities, which affect their willingness to engage in certain behaviors.

Robert Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Intelligence.

Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Intelligence divides intelligence into three subtheories: the analytic, the creative, and the practical.

The analytic theory deals with the cognitive processes involved in analyzing and solving problems. The creative theory focuses on the ability to generate new ideas or solutions, while the practical theory emphasizes the skills necessary to successfully navigate one’s environment.

Each of these subtheories encompasses a different set of abilities and skills, but they are all important components of intelligence. Sternberg’s theory is unique in that it recognizes the importance of all three types of intelligence, rather than just focusing on one or two.

The Triarchic Theory has been influential in education and has helped to shape educational practices and policies. It has also been used to inform research on topics such as giftedness and learning disabilities.

Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Theory.

Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Theory posits that there are eight different types of intelligence, each representing a different way of processing information. These include: verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. According to Gardner, everyone has a unique combination of these intelligences which affects how they learn best.

This theory has been influential in education, as it suggests that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to teaching and learning. Instead, educators should cater to the individual strengths of their students. For example, a student who is strong in bodily-kinesthetic intelligence might benefit from hands-on learning activities, while a student with strong interpersonal intelligence might do better in group work.

The Multiple Intelligences Theory has been met with some criticism, particularly regarding the scientific evidence supporting it. However, it remains an influential theory with many applications in educational settings.


The classical theories of social and personality development have been incredibly influential in our understanding of human behavior. While some of the ideas put forth by these theorists may seem a bit outdated, they still provide valuable insight into how we develop as individuals. If you’re interested in learning more about these theories, be sure to check out the resources listed below.

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