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We can define psychosocial development as the advancement in a person’s mind, feelings and level of maturity as he/she grows older. The speed with which people develop psychologically and socially varies from person to person. This variation may be brought about by differences in their biological processes and the surroundings they are in.
There are two psychologists that have played a major role in the understanding of psychology: Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934) and Erik Erikson (1902-1994). Both of them developed theories that are highly applicable even in the current sociological environment.
Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory
Erikson came up with psychosocial development stages that he believed were very pertinent to a person’s growth. A child will face these challenges from the very beginning and how it overcomes these challenges will greatly affect his/her development. The challenges, in brief are as follows;
Basic Trust vs. Mistrust-confronted up to it reaches one year old
Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt- from the age of 2-3
Initiative vs. Guilt- confronted at the age of 4-5
Industry vs. Inferiority- confronted at the age of 6-12
Identity vs. Role Confusion- from the age of 13-19
Intimacy vs. Isolation- from 20-24
Generativity vs. Stagnation-from 25-64
Ego Integrity vs. Despair-from 65-death (Cherry)
Vygotsky’s Socio-cultural Theory
This theory tries to suggest that learning is more or less a social process and that one’s intelligence is tied to the society and cultural practices. His main argument was that society plays a part in a person’s cognition development. Learning, in his opinion, is achieved via a person’s interaction with the society which is then integrated into his/her mental structure. He also believed that a zone of proximal development dictates a person’s potential in the development of cognition. This essentially suggests that for a person’s cognition to develop further, he/she needs interactions like collaborative learning and scaffolding among others (UNESCO).
In this paper, I look at two studies done sometimes back and whose results proved consistent with the opinions of the discussed theorists. The studies were named Dynamic assessment of literacy: English as a third language and Psychosocial stages and the accessibility of autobiographical memories across the life cycle.
The aim of this study was to look at dynamic assessment (DA) in view of Vygotsky’s theorem. This was done by assessing students’ comprehension in terms of reading English, which was their third language (Kozulin, Garb).
How It Was Conducted
Students in Israel but originally from Ethiopia that were then studying at pre academic centers were investigated in the research. The researchers came up with a system that included a DA structure that would help the students advance their reading comprehension capabilities (Kozulin, Garb). There were three sessions; the pre-test involved giving the students passage for them to read and later answer some comprehension questions, the mediation session involved trained teachers reviewing the test with students and advising them on the reading strategy necessary for each item and the last session involved giving the already mediated students a test that mirrored the earlier test (Anadolu university journal of social sciences, 2008).
The data collected was analyzed by the researchers who came up a ‘Learning Potential Score’ that tried to evaluate the students gain during mediation (Anadolu university journal of social sciences, 2008). The researchers concluded that;
Psychosocial Stages and the Accessibility of Autobiographical Memories across the Life Cycle
In this research, older members of the society were asked to recall memories of their lives at different time points. The aim was to classify these memories and find any link with Erikson’s psychosocial theorem.
How It Was Conducted
The two researchers asked the older adults, from 62 to 89 to recall their fond memories in their lives. A person was to remember a memorable happening in each decade since they were ten years old. The questions on the decade by decade basis were random and were administered in five minute span. Each adult was to give up to three memories in a decade. These memories were then compared to the Erikson eight crises at the different time points (Newman, 2011).
In total, there were 552 memories obtained from the fifty participants. Most memories came from the decades of 10-19 and 20-29. In the former, memories of the participants nurturing pattern, desire to be helped and taught. Other memories included playing, fun escapades and confrontations within the family and with teachers. The latter decade was filled with memories of participants in pursuit of identity. Intimate relations memories were frequent in the 30-39 decade. The researchers also noted that generativity memories became more and more prominent from the decade of 20 well into the 60s. The decade of 60 recorded a higher number of despairing episodes than the others (Newman, 2011).
The results and conclusions that were obtained in the first experiment clearly support Vygotsky belief that person’s community and environment that he/she is brought up plays an important role in their learning. His other belief that a person’s cognition can be improved through scaffolding and demonstrations was also proved to be true. The second experiment takes a different approach with very striking results. The findings of Conway and Holmes demonstrate that people will tend to reorganize themselves at certain stages of their lives and the goals that ought to be achieved at that stage. This reorganization is necessitated by the different life psychosocial crises that have to be faced at the stages (Newman, 2011).