Social Context in Social Development

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27th Mar 2018 Psychology Reference this


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Human Development or a more common term used “Developmental Psychology” is the study of gradual psychological growth which takes place as the human beings become mature. Developmental Psychology is dominated by four core themes. The first term is associated with the qualitative difference present in children from adults or in simple the lack of experience which adults have. The second one is concerned whether the development in human beings is occurred by the progressive knowledge accumulation or by the shifts of thinking from one to another. A third theme is mainly concerned whether innate knowledge is by birth in children or it is experience which helps them in figuring things out. The forth and last important area of research in developmental psychology analyses effects of social context on development.

From the start of time human behavior is tried to be figured out by people. A history is also possessed in psychology which is maintained by a lot of scholars and psychologists (Côté, 2014). These were the people from where the ideas come together to create whatever we have today about this subject. New concepts were demonstrated which manifested the social psychology’s field. Social psychology has lots of origins and tracing back to only one origin is not possible.


It is a science which came into origin hundreds of years ago. The history of psychology is dated back to the time of ancient Greeks. It was considered as a branch of philosophy until the era of 1870s and separate development as a field was occurred in the Germany and United States. A famous statement by a renowned German psychologist, Hermann Ebbinghaus is about the history of psychology is that with a short history, it has a long past. Over the time even the subdivisions of the subject are added to the field of psychology. The study of psychology is a fairly vast and lengthy area (Augoustinos, 2014). Due to which many field of this subject are emerged with number of subtopics about the study of behavior, brain and mind. In the context of social environment understanding of an individual behavior is social psychology. During the last five decades social psychology has been grown rapidly. By very standards is relatively a new science.

Historical Overview

In history extreme positions were taken by developmental psychologists in relation to different elements of human development. The positions had a center near the authority of nativism against empiricism or “nature versus nurture”. A nativist belief of development was that the processes in argument are innate in nature i.e. individual genes influence the development. While an empiricist accounts that it is the interaction with whole environment through which development is acquired (Turiel, 2014). In the recent past the research of developmental psychologists has increased the focus on the inter relationship existing between environmental influences and innate behavior.

Historical examples

To learn about the role of social context in terms of psychology development, there are some of the historical examples. The ancient Greek philosophers, Plato and Aristotle presented the ideas during the early impacts of psychology. Socio-centered perspective is well motivated by Plato. It indicates that social context is responsible in case of state controlling the individual as well as motivating social responsibility. In the book entitled Republic, ideas of Plato regarding social context may be described. The basic foundation of inborn potentials of a man is affected by education, according to Plato. The personality of an individual is developed by the nature of education and social conduct. He thought that behavior adopted by a person is the main consequence of that social system in which a person has brought up. Plato’s book entitled Symposium consists of the greatest contribution of Plato to social psychology. It was said to be an influential explanation of love as well as ideas regarding platonic love. The first and foremost cited taxonomy of variations of love is Symposium.

In an article published in 1864 in the journal II Politencio, the terminology social psychology originated by the Italian politician as well as journalist Carlo Cattaneo, founded by Rodriguez (2013). Moreover, Catteneo made an argument regarding conflicting ideas as well as Hegel’s ideas to interpersonal interactions, according to Augoustinos (2014). Jahoda recommends that expanded approval of the idea must be followed back to Gustav Adolph Linder, since Politencio was not a broadly read journal. This term is also used by Linder a professor at Prague University in the book “Ideas for a Psychology of Society as Foundation of Social Science”.

The idea that society contains some inevitable relations along with the social mind development (English, 2013); Lazarus and Steinhal introduced the concept about Anglo-European impact in their book entitled Folk Psychology in the year 1860. Additionally, this journal contains some ideas of group mind as well as folk soul that was earlier determined. This theory is remembered by the name “Volkerpsychologie” or “folk psychology”. Collective mind was emphasized in it. It was compared with the concept that cultural and community influences are the factors in the personality development. Wundt motivated the methodological analysis of language as well as its affects on the social context because of this discovery. Wundt thought that social process is analyzed deeply in its own social circumstances as compare to laboratory. The factors of myths, customs, language, traditions and social organizations were thoroughly studied (Murray, 2014).

On the other hand, the consummate critical period is the primitive experience. Scientists brought attention to the hazardous effects of child industrial labor in the advanced emerging field of developmental psychology. Moreover, scientists validated the significance of a healthy as well as nurturing atmosphere to promote the normal development, during the social reform of the late 1800s. The deep importance of early socio-emotional practices regarding psychological consequences has been stressed by the psychologists like Freud, Sroufe, Bowlby and Erikson throughout the 20th century. Moreover, the strategy makers have identified the need of early intervention schemes like Head Start. Head Start looks for enriching the knowledge acquisition development of those children who are not socially benefited. Government strategy as well as public interest has addressed the initial interventions during the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Those interventions have focused on the age range i.e. 0 to 3 on which resources should be concentrated. Up till now, the significance of the initial 3 years of life has attained some mythical ratios, as theorists like John Bruer argued. It is necessary to identify the elevating nature development to focus the early as well as later practices during developing growth of children (Walsh, 2014).

The evidences presented by different researchers especially Susan Rose and Baillargeon has given demonstration that cognitive skills start developing in the early stage of life, and stable trajectories are followed by these skills overtime. These findings give suggestion on the developmental course of children which starts solidifying prior entering into a formal schooling system, and sometimes even before uttering of the first word.

The extreme poor situation of literacy in America is a problem related to specific interest and the effects which early experiences on the development of literacy. The rate of cognitive enrichment, book reading, and verbal stimulation is for instance children who are exposed at their early age are predictive of later skills of literacy. The research of Betty Hart and Todd Risley in 1995 determined a wide range of difference in the vocabulary skills of young children who were in the course of their second year of life, and this difference was almost concerned with the different words that their parents had spoken. Toddlers who are socioeconomically disadvantaged were exposed to considerably minimum numbers of words spoken in a day as compare to those who belonged to professional families. These researches have become a base to clear that experiences of children can lead to considerable differences among the children. Moreover, the studies have also revealed that the gap of achievement widens in between high and low performing children when they enter into a school.

On the other hand, according to the socioemotional development, some psychologists such as Freud, Bowlby, Sroufe have declared in their researchers that earl attachment with children may create the sense of sincerity in the human being, which may further help in case of developing psychology as well. In the same way, some early risk factors such as less attachment and few of socioeconomic disadvantages may have some positive or as well as negative effects on the human mind. Some have different cultures, way of living, environment, although such factors can play a role in case of developing the psychology of human being.


In order to conclude this paper, we have to consider that social context have a great role for shaping the development of psychology. There are multiple factors involves in the social context, for instance environment and surroundings. These factors can have significant effects which further help to develop the human psychology. Moreover there are several historical examples, as discussed in the paper; these historical examples further help to understand the role of social context in shaping the development of psychology.


Augoustinos, M., Walker, I., & Donaghue, N. (2014). Social cognition: An integrated introduction. Sage.

Côté, J. E., & Levine, C. G. (2014). Identity, formation, agency, and culture: A social psychological synthesis. Psychology Press.

English, T., & John, O. P. (2013). Understanding the social effects of emotion regulation: The mediating role of authenticity for individual differences in suppression. Emotion, 13(2), 314.

Murray, M. (2014). Social history of health psychology: Context and textsbooks. Health Psychology Review, 8(2), 215-237.

Rodriguez, S. (2013). Navigating Multiple Identities: Race, Gender, Culture, Nationality, and Roles ed. by Ruthellen Josselson and Michele Harway (review). The Review of Higher Education, 36(4), 565-566.

Turiel, E., Smetana, J. G., & Killen, M. (2014). Social contexts in social cognitive development. Handbook of moral behavior and development, 2, 307-309.

Walsh, R. T., Teo, T., & Baydala, A. (2014). A critical history and philosophy of psychology: Diversity of context, thought, and practice. Cambridge University Press.

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