Erikson’s psychosocial theory is among the influential theories in the specified chapters. According to Berk, the theory reveals the essence of personality development despite the recently recognized pitfalls of the psychoanalytic approach to development (146, chapter 6). As Berk reports, the stage of basic trust/mistrust proposed by Erikson effectively captures the quality of parental responsiveness to factor into the infant’s basic expectations regarding the outside world (146, chapter 6). Infants in families with a positive balance of care learn to expect gratification from the world, which results in more confidence when exploring it. In contrast, mistrustful infants develop peculiar protective mechanisms, such as withdrawal. This theory’s role in infant development cannot be overstated. It explains that trust towards caregivers should be present to fuel healthy development and prevent the infant from shaping negative assumptions about the world in the future.
Another proposition that would be the most influential in infant development is John Bowlby’s ethological attachment theory. Bowlby breaks the attachment development process into four steps, and the first three stages explain attachment prior to forming reciprocal relationships (Berk 156, chapter 6). In stage three, which occurs between 6-8 and 18-24 months, infants spot the basic links between their behaviors and caregivers’ reactions (Berk 156, chapter 6). Thus, they make sure that their signals will cause anticipated responses. Attachment and its security change a lot in the infant’s reactions to the outside world and the opportunities for development that it offers. The theory explains how infants build connections with familiar caregivers and use the latter as secure bases that make exploring the world relatively safe (Berk 156, chapter 6). This base could be perceived as the means for further development through exploring physical environments and relationships, which is why it is so influential.
Berk, Laura E. Exploring Lifespan Development. 4th ed., Pearson, 2018.