What are the stages of development according to Freud?

Freud believed that the child passes through a series of stages of development. In each stage a different erogenous zone is in focus
Erogenous zones: areas of the body that are particularly sensitive to sexual stimulation.
Freud saw the libido as being focused in these zones.

  • Oral stage
    Lasts form birth to 1 year
    The child’s chief pleasure is derived from sucking and otherwise stimulating the lips and mouth.
  • Anal stage
    The second year of life
    The child’s interest is focused on elimination
  • Phallic stage
    From age 3 to age 5 or 6
    The boy’s interest is focused on his phallus (penis) and he derives great pleasure masturbating
    Oedipus complex or electra complex
  • Latency
    Until adolescence
    The sexual impulses are repressed or are in a quiescent state
    • Modern research shows that children do continue to engage in behaviour with sexual components during this period
  • Genital stage
    Sexual urges awaken and become more specifically genital.
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Theoretical perspectives on sexuality - a summary of chapter 2 of Understanding human sexuality by Hyde and DeLamater

Theoretical perspectives on sexuality - a summary of chapter 2 of Understanding human sexuality by Hyde and DeLamater


Chapter 2
Theoretical perspectives on sexuality

Evolutionary perspectives


Sociobiology: the application of evolutionary biology to understanding the social behaviour of animals, including humans.
Sociobiologists try to understand why certain patterns of sexual behaviour have evolved in humans.

The sociobiologists argues that many of the characteristics we evaluate in judging attractiveness are indicative of the health and vigour of the individual.
These in turn are probably related to the person’s reproductive potential.
Thus, perhaps our concern with physical attractiveness is a product of evolution and natural selection.

Attractiveness is an indicator of health and is more important in mate selection in societies where more people are unhealthy.

From this viewpoint, hanging out, playing sports, getting engaged and similar customs are much like the courtship rituals of other species.
This courtship is an opportunity for each member of the prospective couple to assess each other’s fitness.

An offspring’s changes of survival are greatly increased if the parents bond emotionally and if the parents have propensity for attachment.
An emotional bond may also lead to more frequent sexual interaction. The pleasurable consequences of sex in turn will reinforce the bond.

Parental investment: the behaviour and resources invested in offspring to achieve the survival and reproductive success of their genetic offspring.

Many criticisms of sociobiology have been made

  • The biological determinism
  • It rests on an outmoded version of the evolutionary model that modern biologists consider naive
  • Sociobiologist assume that the central function of sex is reproduction, but this is not true today

Evolutionary psychology

Evolutionary psychology: the study of psychological mechanisms that have been shaped by natural selection.
If behaviours evolved in response to selection pressures, it is plausible that cognitive or emotional structures evolved in the same way.
A man who accurately judged whether a woman was healthy and fertile would be more successful in reproducing.

According to sexual strategies, females and males face different adaptive problems in short-term, or casual, mating and in long-term reproduction.
These differences lead to different strategies.

  • In short-term mating, a female may choose a partner who offers her immediate resources, such as food or money
  • In long-term mating, a female may choose a partner who appears to be able and willing to provide resources for the indefinite future
  • A male may choose a sexually available female for a short-term liaison, but avoid such females when looking for a long-term mate

According to the theory, females engage in intrasexual competition to access the males.

Criticisms to evolutionary psychology

  • Men and women are very similar in their stated mating preferences
    • Both prefer long-term strategies and few or no short-term partners
  • It
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