Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign 2020 – Human Development During Addiction


Human Development During Addiction

Human development can be defined as the study of how humans change and remain the same, in terms of personality, over time. Although human development can be challenging to understand, psychologists propose theories that help individuals comprehend. In human development, there are six perspectives in human development theories that explain the process, but in this essay, we will be focusing on the cognitive perspective. Mainly on Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s theories. By exploring the strengths and weaknesses of Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s theories, this will help us to understand and further our knowledge on the cognitive perspective of human development.

Jean Piaget, an influential developmental psychologist, proposed a cognitive theory based on the understanding of the physical and social environment influences throughout infancy, childhood, and adolescence (Kail, 2015). The meaning of Piaget’s theory proposes that individuals in their early lives act in a manner like scientists in order to gain a better understanding of other humans or objects. For example, for newborn babies to be in the arms of people other than their parents will show expression of confusion that will later lead to fear and result in crying. Another example is when infants cry, most parents will attend to their child, assuming they are hungry. However, in the infant’s perspective, they learn that crying leads to an act of feeding, which later the infant will learn that if they cry, they will get fed. To further our understanding of this theory, Piaget created a four-stage model of cognitive development, with each stage having a different age. Stage one, sensorimotor, is found in the ages between birth and two years old. According to Piaget, infants’ knowledge of the world is based on sensory and motor skills that will later result in the use of mental representation (Kail, 2015). In the second stage, preoperational thought is found in individuals around the ages of 2 to 6 years old. In this stage, children will start to apply symbols, words, and numbers concerning the world or environment. However, it can only relate to the world from their perspective. In the next stage, concrete operational thought is based on the understanding and application of logical thought and experiences that mainly focus on the “here and now” notion. This stage can be seen from ages seven years old to early adolescence. With the final stage of cognitive development, formal operational thought proposes that from adolescents to adults, individuals contain an abstract thought that leads to hypothetical situations and speculation. Piaget’s theory focuses more on the innovative minds of infants, which later translates into more sophisticated apprehension, and cognitive development follows a sequence of cognitive events based on age.

Lev Vygotsky, a developmental psychologist, theorized that sociocultural factors influence cognitive development. According to the Vygotsky, the fundamental of cognitive development relies on society and how it enables the action of children that would later be used for survival (Kail, 2015). What this theory means is that society contains a vast amount of cultures that can be different from one and another, specifically on the up bring of their children. For example, take two different boys; one from the U.S. and the other from a rural state or country. For the U.S. boy, the parents force their son to get an education and eventually obtain an excellent job to help support his family in the later years. However, the rural son is forced to learn about the agricultural aspect of life and must farm to survive and provide for his family. Vygotsky’s theory helps individuals understand that children develop a thought process by learning from their successors or predecessors (parents and teachers). The son that goes to a school learns to obtain knowledge by going to school and reading lectures from their professors, while the rural son learns to grow and farm from his father and his father’s father. In a recent study, research has shown that children between the ages of 14 months and two years old mimicked taking apart a toy after watching a video of their parent and a stranger taking the toy apart (Shrier, 2014). This evidence shows that children of a young age are more likely to learn and copy from their parents or strangers. Unlike Piaget’s theory, Vygotsky’s theory is based on the learning and influences of sociocultural factors regarding apprenticeship learning.

With each of the two theories discussed, both contain their weak and strong suit in cognitive development. The strength of Piaget’s theory has created learning objects or toys that will assist in the learning capabilities of children of young ages. However, this theory may not work when it comes to learning disabilities that are dominantly shown at the early ages of infancy and childhood. The strength of Vygotsky’s theory is that it aims to enable the unique nature and personality of those at an early age. Nonetheless, this theory can be weakened by stereotypes. Those who were brought up by their culture may learn that certain words or gestures can seem disrespectful. For example, a vegan family can teach their child that eating meat is inhumane and is filled with synthetic hormones. While those who learn from a school education setting, meat provides a high source of iron and is a building block for muscle production.

Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky are two of psychology’s most influential developmental psychologist. Both provide excellent information that will assist those wanting the understanding of human development. Piaget provides insight into the mental and more sophisticated aspects of human development through experimentation at an early age, as well as the four-stage in which human development progresses. Vygotsky’s theory provides the sociocultural aspect of human development through different scenarios based on culture. Regardless of the culture, both scenarios allow individuals to learn skill sets that help prepare them to survive. Although both contain flaws in their theories, each provides descriptive information that can be used to understand and expand the progression of human development.