There Are Several Key Theorists Discussed For Their Contribution To Understanding Human Behavior In A Developmental Context. Cognitive Theory And Psychoanalytic Theory

Cognitive Theory And Psychoanalytic Theory


The human behavior is described as the capacity of mental, physical, emotional and social activities that are experienced in the five phases of a human being’s life. Human behavior perspective involves the assumption that work achievement can only be done through people. The primary emphasis being participation, cooperation, interpersonal skills, and satisfaction. It is imperative that many theorists have come forward to describes and explain the aspect of human behavior in a number of ways. Behavioral theory tends to explain the specific actions of an individual in the presence of external environmental factors whereas cognitive theories study processes of the mind like attention, creativity, thinking, memory and problem-solving (Bowman, 2010). The cognitive theories explain personality differences because of the varying mental abilities of people. The paper will address cognitive theory and psychoanalytic theory.

The cognitive theory

This is a learning theory of psychology that tends to describe human behavior through an understanding of the thought processes. For instance, information processing is a known used description of the mental process by making a comparison of the human mind to that of a computer. The theory is concerned with how an individual through process impacts his or her processing. The people who hold on this theory believe that the thoughts are the ones that impact and how an individual perceived a situation whether in a negative light or positive will influence how they act (Bowman, 2010).

Behavioral theories

The theory states that learning is nothing more than the acquisition of the new behavior in regards to environmental conditions that connects a new behavior to a stimulus by giving reinforcement after a correct behavior is produced. It studies implicate environmental situation concerning human reactions to specific stimuli or acquisition of particular behavior patterns. Pavlov, Watson, and Skinner developed the behavioral theory. The theory breaks down information and skills that an individual learns to a smaller component, and the cognitive theory involves collective stimuli.

For instance, the Pavlov model describes that there is the use of repetitive direct stimuli linked with indirect stimuli to confer desired behavior. Moreover, the behaviorist slant to language learning advanced because of the understanding that students can learn a second language by being taught to provide right ‘’feedback’’ to a particular stimulus. The learners would then acquire a prompt positive or negative ‘’reinforcement’’ in the figure of either rectification from the teachers (Byrne, 2015).



The behavioral and cognitive theory is a good approach to teaching and learning operations. It is imperative that though the two learning theories vary in various concepts, the theories emphasize the purpose that environmental situations play in promoting learning and also promotes the role of practice with corrective feedback. Both theories support the fact that the environmental condition is a significant factor in the learning and behavioral contexts of every person.


 The cognitive theory point of view is that a change in the mental depiction and connections as a result of an encounter while behaviorist is a theory whose perspective may be defined as a change of behavior as a result of experiences that can be measured. Moreover, the behavioral theory identifies the cues that promote the desired responses while the cognitive theories majors on the mental actions of the learner. The behavioral theories also apply the aspect of feedback ‘’reinforcement’’ to change behavior in the required direction while the cognitive theories use the feedback ‘’knowledge of feedback’’ to manage and also support accurate mental links.

Additionally, the behavioral theory tends to explain the behavior for the identification of the determinant roles whereas cognitive theory was introduced as a reaction to the behavioral theory. The behavioral theory uses mechanisms as a major metaphor which states that a series of determinate laws oversee behavior. On the other hand, cognitive theory studies the mental process through the use of scientific approaches and various concepts based on behavior.

Based on the two theories behavioral and cognitive theory, I believe that cognitive theory makes more sense to me compared to the behavioral theory. The Piaget’s cognitive theory involves various truths that can be related to religious worldview especially Christianity. The cognitive theory makes more sense because of the following reasons; first when we were born, we didn’t know anything in the first place, second, it is through experience we were able to develop and acquire ideas of what we want or don’t want and thirdly, the capability to think logically and keep more information progresses as we grow and become of age. The possible result of this theory is that eventually, we will understand (Mercer & Howe, 2012).

Moreover, the theorist Piaget proposed one of the most significant theories of explaining and understanding cognitive development. The cognitive theory seeks to illustrate and explain the development of thought processes and mental conditions. The theory also tends to determine how these thought processes affect the way people understand and interact with the rest of the world. It is concerned with the development of an individual’s thought processes and how it affects the way we understand issues. Piaget also proposes a notion that looks obvious, but assists revolutionize how people think about child development. For instance, the phrase children think differently when compared to adults.

It is evident that development psychologist usually uses a variety of theories in thinking about various factors of human development. For example, a psychologist analyzing the intellectual development of a child would choose the Piaget’s theory of cognitive development which provides the key phases that children encounter as they learn. The theory explains stages such as the sensorimotor stage, pre-operational stage, concrete operational stage, and the formal operational stage. The theory provides what is expected at each of the stages of human development. For instance, in the sensorimotor stage which is between birth and two years of age (Mercer & Howe, 2012). In the phases, the child’s understanding of the world is restricted to his or her sensory point of view and motor operations. Moreover, the behavior in this stage is restricted to the motor responses caused by stimuli.


Most of the human behavior is learned. The theorist believes that learning is developed through the interplay of aspects such as stimuli, cues, reinforcement, and responses. For instance, the behavioral theorist studies human behaviors within the environment. The studies involve environmental conditions in understanding human reactions to a given stimulus or acquisition of particular behavior patterns. The theory of behaviorist tends to illustrate the characteristic actions of an individual due to external environmental aspects. However, cognitive theories involve personality’s differences because of varying mental abilities of individuals.


Bowman, N. A. (2010). College diversity experiences and cognitive development: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 80(1), 4-33.

Byrne, K. (2015). The give and take of peer review: Utilizing modeling and imitation (Doctoral dissertation, Kent State University).

Mercer, N., & Howe, C. (2012). Explaining the dialogic processes of teaching and learning: The value and potential of sociocultural theory. Learning, culture and social interaction, 1(1), 12-21.

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