We rocked through Freud and Erikson, so we're gonna make what feels like a natural transition from sexual and social development to talking about our emotional development. There are a lot of really exciting studies being done in this area right now, but again, as much as possible I want to stick to the theories upon which the current research builds, and for emotional development that has to begin with John Bowlby, but was nicely broken into stages by Harry Harlow. I'm sure at least some of you are familiar with the adorable rhesus monkeys Harlow worked, I'll be generous and say Harlow worked with the monkeys, not on the monkeys. These were the first studies on how emotional patterns are formed, and also the first concept of emotional attachment, which has become one of the central pillars of psychological development since.
Harlow was very straight forward in his stage progression. Three stages, each involving the development of a skill that the use of which is the task of the next stage. His first stage is that defined by the parental affection system, where comfort and stability, built initially by physical contact, build a sense of trust in others. I hope at some point in here patterns start to emerge. One such pattern appears to be that a lot of these seem to say that trusting people is important, and that stable emotional availability is the key to learning how to do so. Mental note (and maybe a digital note in the presentation).
This trust enables the development of mutual peer relationships, which signals the second stage and the peer affection system. This translation of one skill to a broader scale also seems familiar, which is a promising sign for the model. By working out how to balance social interactions with emotional regulation, children learn the language of social interactions while learning how to process them emotionally, with low stakes.
Puberty, again, announces the third stage, entering the sexual affection system. This has the effect of raising the stakes on the emotional trail and error games of early childhood. With the raising of the stakes comes an increase in the intensity of emotions involved. Lifelong friendships and first loves sprout up all over the place. This process appears to be the development of the ability to engage in increasingly diverse, meaningful, and complex emotional interactions and relationships with other people. Emotional development in this case seems to be the gradual exploration of how many people it is safe to love exactly how much. The key skill development here is the ability to discern different styles of social interaction, and being able to engage at the appropriate emotional level.
I am sure that our emotional self will, in a more contemporary presentation, be more complicated than just this. While compiling the annotated bibliography for this I noticed two broad fields which I briefly describe for their relationship to our model in a second: the development of empathy which could be described as the increasing ability to consider the emotional impact of a particular situation from gradually more diverse and detailed perspectives corresponds well to the cognitive development we will discuss next; the development of emotional regulation, or the ability to exert more control over the emotional impact of a given situation upon yourself, corresponds similarly well to the behavioral development we will get to after that.