7 Developmental Psychologists and What They Have to Say ...


Developmental psychologists study how we grow throughout our life from early childhood to adolescence to adulthood. You can learn so much about we develop psychologically, emotionally, physically, and intellectually from their theories. Psychology fascinates me for many reasons but I think it’s important to learn about these developmental psychologists because what they studied affects us every day of our lives. Take a look at these specialists and what they have to say.

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Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky Developmental psychologist Noam Chomsky studied language and its development. He raises some interesting points when it comes to syntax, or the grammar we use in speech. He underlines that syntax isn’t genetic; it’s learned. You know this because kids are willing to say “I goed to the park” because they realize that the ending “ed” signifies the past and haven’t been taught to say “went” instead.


Noam Chomsky is a renowned American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, and social critic. He is widely known for his work in linguistics, including theories of language development and the concept of a universal grammar. Chomsky has written and lectured extensively on the relationship between language and thought, and on the political and social implications of language use.

Chomsky has had a profound influence on the field of linguistics, particularly in the areas of syntax and semantics. He is credited with the development of the generative grammar theory, which is based on the idea that language is a generative system, meaning that it is capable of producing an infinite number of sentences. Chomsky's theory of language acquisition, which is known as the Standard Theory, is based on the idea that children are born with an innate ability to acquire language.

Chomsky has also made significant contributions to the field of cognitive science. His theories of cognitive development and language acquisition have been influential in the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning. He has also explored the relationship between language and thought, and has argued that language is an important factor in the development of thought.


Harry Harlow

Harry Harlow Harlow Harlow is most famously known for Harlow’s monkeys. He tested monkeys to learn about attachment. His studies shows that young monkeys when give the choice between a artificial cloth mother or a wire mother with food, the monkey would choose the cloth mother. Warmth and security are vital to babies to help them develop healthily. Monkeys that were forced to stay with the wire mother had aggression issues later in life.


Jean Piaget

Jean Piaget Psychologist Jean Piaget studied children’s cognitive development. He identified that children recognize schemas, or building blocks of knowledge. For example, “animals” is a schema. From there, he observed that children assimilate new stimuli, such as a dog but accommodate changes and are able to distinguish between a cow and a dog, though both have four legs and are animals. Piaget also identified four stages of development, my favorite of which is object permanence. In the sensorimotor stage, children from birth to 2 learn that when an object is out of sight, that doesn’t mean it no longer exists.


Lawrence Kohlberg

Lawrence Kohlberg Kohlberg studied moral development. He argued that there are six stages of moral development divided into subgroups of pre-conventional, conventional and post-conventional. The stages ranged from obeying a rule simply to avoid punishment to disregarding a law in a situation where breaking it was the only way to save someone’s life. His theories were critiqued by Carol Gilligan who emphasized women’s moral development more than Kohlberg did.


Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud Freud has his own theories on development, which, to no surprise, revolve around psycho-sexual development. He talked about the Oedipus Complex in which young boys sexually desire their mothers though they do not have the ability to act on those impulses. The reverse is named the Electra Complex for young girls. If you want to learn more about sexual development, look at the stages Freud observed.


Erik Erikson

Erik Erikson Erik Erikson studied Freud’s psycho-sexual stages of development but turned his research towards psycho-social development instead. He pointed out eight stages including trust and identity. The first stage builds basic trust; however, if mistrust is formed, relationships are affected later in life. The trust stage also deals with overcoming stranger anxiety, as identified by Piaget. Adolescents develop their identity by expanding their view of the world and reason through what beliefs they value.


B.F. Skinner

B.F. Skinner B.F. Skinner studied behaviorism. He developed a therapeutic approach to modify behaviors for improvement. He studied operant conditioning and its impact on modifying behavior. By using fixed-ratio schedules such as rewarding the participating child every 3rd time, you would see less enthusiastic participation than if you used a fixed-interval schedule where each reward occurred randomly. Variable-ratio schedules offer a reinforcement after an unpredictable number of responses whereas a variable-interval schedule reinforces the participant after a random about of time.

These developmental psychologists are well-known for their work in the field. Their studies have taught us so much about how we develop psychologically, emotionally, sexually, socially, and more. Which of these psychologists stand out to you?

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Literally just covered most of this last week in my lectures

Pretty much a Crash course of my early childhood development class

Just studied this today

I've been studying psychology for four years and this article was very concise and well written :) albeit it left a lot of great psychologists out such as Albert Bandura and Alice Eagly

Harlow appeals to me. Are oxytocin levels increased when they hug the soft monkey? If monkeys with the wire mom are given oxytocin, would that change their future behavior? Interesting!

This is such a great post! An unexplored topic very well delivered, interesting and well-written...I learned a lot!

Each of these (except perhaps Freud; that is arguable, however) contributed important "puzzle pieces" to developmental psychology. I agree that some important contributors were left out. The sad thing to me is that we largely know which, how many, and to what degree these theories and concepts are important based upon observations of neglectful/absent parenting or severely abusive situations - and there is so much that we have yet to learn. Anyone interested in further learning might want to give John Bowlby a look. Well done!

Very interesting!

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