Psychology’s contribution to community development 

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Chapter 3 Psychology’s contribution to community development

Nations, like plants and human beings, grow. And if the development is thwarted they are dwarfed and overshadowed (McKay, 1943:41).


The previous chapter provided a presentation of a number of development theories, including a condensed overview of the history of developmental practice as it manifests in the community and the social, interpersonal and intrapersonal aspects of humanity. The theories of development discussed were all based on the fields of social development, social work and community development. This chapter deals with development as expressed within the field of psychology. Richards (2004) highlights the influence of poverty on a community and how it hinders the development of potential within communities. This, by implication, has an adverse effect on individual potential. It is against this framework that human needs and the theory of the hierarchy of human needs will be presented in this chapter.

Mainstream psychology and human development

A study of the history of the field of psychology reveals that psychology as a science was formally established in Europe in the 1800s, when the individual was exalted (Seedat, Duncan & Lazarus, 2001). Since then, the theory and practice of mainstream psychology have concentrated on the functioning of the individual and individual consultations with the client. Nel (2007) believes that mainstream psychology previously only equipped professionals to focus on the individual and on micro-systems, and makes an argument for the training curricula of psychology students to include community interventions.
In mainstream psychology, the term „development‟ has a wide range of meanings. According to Meyer and Van Ede (1996), it means the overall qualitative and quantitative changes that accompany human growth and maturation. In this regard, these two terms (growth and maturation) have also been subsumed under the general meaning of development. The scope of developmental psychology is as wide as is implied by the meaning of „development‟. Shehu (2002) purports that development thus covers both prenatal and postnatal development – embryonic, infant and child development, adolescence and adulthood, maturity and old age. By the same token, it covers physical, cognitive, personality, social, emotional and moral aspects of development. In fact, most theories of development are part of a comprehensive theory of personality in which a detailed view of humanity has been constructed (Meyer, Moore & Viljoen, 1989). Because theorists have differing views of humanity, they emphasise different processes and determinants of development (Meyer & Van Ede, 1996).

The four theoretical orientations in developmental psychology

Theories play a part in shaping our understanding of human behaviour and provide the frameworks for assessing processes that account for behaviour. According to Newman and Newman (2007), there are theoretical orientations of development that emphasise biological factors of development, theories that emphasise environmental factors of development, and theories that emphasise the relationship between the person and the environment. Meyer and Van Ede (1996) distinguished between four broad theoretical orientations in developmental psychology: the psychoanalytic approach, the learning theory approach, the cognitive approach and the humanistic approach.
Psychoanalytic theories are those influenced by the work of Sigmund Freud, who believed in the importance of the unconscious mind and childhood experiences. Freud‟s contribution to developmental theory was his proposal that development occurs through a series of psychosexual phases. If these psychosexual stages are completed successfully, the result is a healthy personality (Cherry, 2010). If certain issues are not resolved at the appropriate stage, fixation can occur. According to Cherry (2010), a fixation is a persistent focus on an earlier psychosexual stage. Newman and Newman (2007) state that Freud gave us insight into the subconscious so that we could understand the tension between motives and desires and the constraints against achieving these desires and how this tension affects our behaviour and development.
According to Berk (2006), Erik Erikson took Freud‟s ideas further by proposing that psychological conflicts arise at the different stages of psychosexual development and that this allows the individual to acquire skills and attitudes that permit him or her to contribute constructively to the society. Erikson‟s theory has been criticised because it covers only a few aspects of human development – such as a person‟s basic attitude towards people and towards life – and consequently does not deal with other developmental aspects at all. No attention is given to cognitive development and very little to emotional development (Meyer & Van Ede, 1996).
Learning theories focus on how the environment impacts behaviour. Important learning processes include classical conditioning, operant conditioning and social learning. In each case, behaviour is shaped by the interaction between the individual and the environment. Bandura‟s (1986) social learning theory expounded on how children learn to model their behaviour through observation and imitation of others (Newman & Newman, 2007).
Cognitive theories focus on the development of mental processes, skills and abilities. Examples of cognitive theories include Piaget‟s theory of cognitive development, which led to an understanding of the way children create meaning out of their experiences.
The humanistic approach in opposition to the elementalism of the psychoanalysts and particularly of the behaviourists, maintain an organismic and holistic point of view (Meyer & Van Ede, 1996). The underlying tenet of the humanists‟ paradigm is that people can shape their own development. For the humanists, the whole is more than the sum of its parts, and considerable emphasis is placed on the individual‟s ideals and plans for the future (Meyer & Van Ede, 1996). A distinct tenet of humanist theory is that an individual‟s development never stops.
As stated in Chapter 2 of this thesis, development shall be described as a form of development that holistically embraces the person, socio-economic factors and his/her physical environment, which by implication means that human development is continuous. Human development must address changes over a long period of time and should have patterns of change or constancy. Development implies that change has a form of direction and moves from the more simple to the more complex, or as Newman and Newman (2007:6) write: „… from the less organised and unco-ordinated to the more organised and co-ordinated or less integrated to more integrated‟. According to Meyer (1988), humanists try to incorporate the whole person into their theories. It therefore seems appropriate to discuss one of the humanistic theories of development. Child (1973) states humanistic theorists respect individual initiative and freedom, as well as efforts at promoting the optimal development of people.
As one of the key assumptions in community development is that there are needs that have to be met within a community (Monaheng, 2004), it follows that a definition of needs is required that accounts more directly for the influence of poverty that characterises day-to-day living in South Africa and how this correlates with individual development. Maslow, a humanistic psychologist, meets this requirement with his theory of the hierarchy of needs.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Maslow postulates that the individual is an integrated and organic whole. His theory of motivation includes the study of ultimate human needs and goals appropriate to humanity‟s full range of being (Zalenski & Raspa, 2006). Fundamental to Maslow‟s theory of motivation is that human needs are hierarchical – that unfulfilled lower needs dominate one‟s thinking, actions and being until they are satisfied (Zalenski & Raspa, 2006).
The most basic needs are the physiological needs, which are related to survival, such as the need for food, drink and sleep. If these needs are not satisfied, the person cannot function properly, and these needs may then dominate all other forms of behaviour. According to Ranis, Stewart and Samman (2005:3), Doyal and Gough‟s (1991) definition of basic needs is very different from this, as their definition is based on the principle of „the avoidance of serious harm‟, where „harm‟ is defined as preventing people realising activities that are essential to their plan of life.
The need to feel safe, both physically and emotionally, constitutes the second level of need. According to Richards (2004), if a person experiences feelings of safety, he/she will have the confidence to venture to the next level. The third level of need is belonging and love. These needs involve the giving and receiving of affection. When they are unsatisfied, a person will feel keenly the absence of friends, a mate or children (Benson & Dundis, 2003). Having obtained relationship/belongingness security, it is then possible to look to the fourth level, which is self-esteem. In this arena the individual seeks to feel competent, confident and self-assured (Benson & Dundis, 2003).
The fifth level, the need for self-actualisation, entails maximising one‟s unique potential in life. Living at this level can lead to peak experiences and even transcendence – the experience of deep connection with others, nature, or God, and the perception of beauty, truth, goodness and the sacred in the world (Zalenski & Raspa, 2006).
This theory of a hierarchical arrangement of human needs implicates successive needs gratification: humankind‟s development progresses through successive stages of need gratification (Richards, 2004). Only after all these needs have been met, the person will strive for the final goal of development, namely the need for self-actualisation, of becoming all that you are capable of being, making full use of your abilities, talents and potential (Meyer et al., 1989).
People differ enormously in the amount of satisfaction they require for a particular need before moving on to satisfy another need or desire. They also differ greatly in how much discomfort they are willing to experience before they give attention to a need. Theorists differ on whether one or multiple needs may be influencing our actions simultaneously, and on whether there is a standard order in which needs have to be met. Research by Goodman and Friedman (1968) indicates that the order in which needs have to be met varies dramatically from person to person. Maslow‟s theory has been questioned by social scientists. For example, postmodern notions such as the politics of knowledge might suggest that there are more accurate representations of contemporary cultural forces and the dynamics of motivation. The discourse of how knowledge is legitimated, for whom, and for what purposes, might challenge Maslow‟s notion of a universally shared human nature. Social constructivism, as well, would argue that such knowledge of needs is local, context specific, and culturally configured rather that total, universal, and natural (Zalenski & Raspa, 2006:1122). A further criticism of the theory is that Maslow was eurocentric in his thinking and created the theory from an individualistic stance. The needs and drives of those in an individualistic society are different from those in a collectivist culture. In a collcetivist culture the needs of acceptance and community will outweigh the needs for freedom and individuality.
As humankind is unique, we cannot predict that development will follow the same path for all. There are distinct differences in socio-economic background and exposure to various experiences that can influence maturity.

1. South Africa: Vision to reality 
1.1 Purpose of the study
1.2 Scope and aims of the study
1.3 The macro-policy frameworks that inform social programme development in South Africa
1.4. Social services post-1994
1.5 Policies governing the victim empowerment field
1.6 Summary
1.7 Outline of the study
2. Social development and participatory learning and action 
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Introduction to theories of development
2.3 History of development theories
2.4 Current trends in development
2.5 Community development
2.6 Capacity development
2.7 Participatory methods
2.8 Closure
3. Psychology’s contribution to community development 
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Mainstream psychology and human development
3.3 The four theoretical orientations in developmental psychology
3.4 Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
3.5 Community psychology and human development
3.6 Community psychology and empowerment theory
3.7 Community psychology and social programme evaluation
4. Building the road to empowerment: No easy ride
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Research objectives
4.3 The paradigmatic perspective of the research
4.4 Qualitative and descriptive research
4.5 Critical reflection
4.6 Theoretical approaches that informed the design and implementation of the short course
4.7 The rationale for the research methodology
4.8 The research intervention: ‘Group process and capacity development for effective social programme implementation’
4.9 Sampling and sample characteristics
4.10 Data Collection Tools
4.11 Data analysis
4.12 Chronology of the research activities
4.13 Conclusion
5. Creating change together: Responsive and relevant? 
5.1 Introduction
5.2 The appropriateness of the methodology of participatory learning and action research
5.3 System findings
5.4 Overall themes that emerged throughout the entire programme
5.5 Findings relating to possible changes in the tertiary education healthcare system and the benefits of short courses
5.6 Conclusion
6. Ubuntu at work: The reconstruction and development of the soul 
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Participatory learning and action and the principles of ubuntu
6.3 Limitations of the study
6.4 Recommendations
6.5 Summary and conclusion

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