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Analyse theories that underpin own practice

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

NOTE: This page has been quality assured for 2021 as per our Quality Assurance policy.

There are several theories that underpin health and social care practice and you will be required to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of a range of theories that are relevant to your own practice by analysing them in detail. A selection of theories that you may wish to research further are explored below.

Human development and growth theories

Erikson’s psychosocial development theory postulated that there are eight stages of human development. At each stage, the individual experiences a conflict that can have a positive or negative effect on the development of their personality. The eight stages, along with the associated conflict are shown below:

  1. Infancy: Trust vs. Mistrust
  2. Toddlerhood: Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt
  3. Pre-school: Initiative vs. Guilt
  4. Early school: Industry vs. Inferiority
  5. Adolescence: Identity vs. Confusion
  6. Early adulthood: Intimacy vs. Isolation
  7. Middle adulthood: Generativity vs. Stagnation
  8. Late adulthood: Integrity vs. Despair

Erikson’s theory built on Freud’s psychosexual development theory which suggested that personality developed through five stages of seeking pleasure through specified erogenous zones.

Identity and self-esteem theories

Tajfel’s social identity theory suggested that the groups to which an individual belongs were an important source of self-esteem and shaped their identity. Similarly, the pride derived from being part of a group can also result in the division of different groups leading to prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs categorizes the needs of individuals into a tiered structure. At the base are basic needs, such as food, water and shelter, followed by needs for safety and then the need for love and belonging. The next stage is a need for self-esteem, and finally, self-actualization, which culminates in an individual fulfilling their potential.

Carl Rogers built on Maslow’s needs motivation theory by developing his personality theory. This theory posited that for humans to self-actualize, they required the correct environment and that there should be overlap between their self-worth, self-image and ideal self.

Sociometer theory (Leary et al) describes self-esteem as an individual’s psychological belief of how valued and accepted they are by others.

Ageing theories

There are two main categories of biological ageing. Programmed theories suggest that our genes set a pre-programmed timetable for our lifespan, whereas damage or error theories suggest that ageing is caused by organisms being bombarded by their environment, deteriorating over time.

Cumming and Henry’s Disengagement Theory postulates that ‘ageing is an inevitable, mutual withdrawal or disengagement, resulting in decreased interaction between the ageing person and others in the social system he belongs to‘.

Similarly, Lemon et al’s Activity Theory suggests that as an individual gets older, it is important for them to continue to maintain social relationships and activities to maintain their identity and sense of self-worth. This can enhance the quality of life and delay the ageing process.

Atchley’s Continuity Theory suggests that as individual’s get older they will try to preserve previous relationships and activities.

Loss and change theories

Kübler-Ross’s 5 stages of grief provide a framework for bereavement. This was later expanded to include ‘any form of
personal loss, such as the death of a loved one, the loss of a job or income, major rejection, the end of a relationship or divorce, drug addiction, incarceration, the onset of a disease or an infertility diagnosis, and even minor losses, such as a loss of insurance coverage’ (Kübler-Ross E, Kessler D , 2014).

Theories relating to psychological and sociological perspectives of social issues

The medical and social models of disability are used to describe different ways that disability may be viewed by society.

Bandura’s social learning theory suggests that behaviour is learned from the environment through the process of observing others.

Discrimination theories

Allport’s contact hypothesis posited that under appropriate conditions, interpersonal contact could be one of the most effective methods of reducing prejudice between majority and minority groups. There is a lot of empirical data to support this argument.

Other theories

Self-reflection is an important skill for professional development and many theories and models have been designed to provide a framework for reflective practice. This includes Kolb’s Reflective Cycle and Gibbs Reflective Cycle.

Theories of communication are discussed here.

Paterson and Zderad’s humanistic nursing theory tries to look at an individual’s holistic needs rather than just their clinical needs with a focus on well-being. It is similar to person-centred and outcome-based approaches that are used in care today.