Creating Human Development Theories
A Guide for the Social Sciences and Humanities
by R. Murray Thomas
May 2014, 224pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3168-3
$65, £50, 57€, A90
Paperback: 978-1-4408-3198-0
$35, £27, 31€, A48
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3169-0
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Freud proposed that people are driven by motives they are typically unaware of.

How—and why—do humans develop as they do? This book clearly explains the key components of human development theories and describes how to compose novel theories regarding this age-old puzzle.

As college students progress through bachelor’s degree programs and then advance to their master’s degree theses and doctoral dissertations, they are bombarded with studies of countless theories, often adopting some author’s theory for interpreting information about human development, even when the theory does not precisely meet their needs. One way to solve the problem—a way especially tuned to the current classroom push for creative, critical thinking—is for the student to create his or her own theory. Unfortunately, even students as high as the doctoral level often don’t understand how to create a well-ordered, workable theory of their own—a crucial gap in their “critical thinking” skillsets. This book is the solution to that specific problem. In these pages, in clear and detailed steps, is a complete explanation for developing a theory.

The book addresses key topics such as attention to need, population, basic assumptions, key terms, causes and stages, interpreting evidence, and applications. Author R. Murray Thomas—a well-known and highly respected elder in the social sciences—also details five illustrative theories, covering their history and providing insights about how they were developed. This work will be valuable to students of psychology, human development, child development, and theory as well as those in other disciplines seeking an understanding of theory building.


  • Succinctly describes the theory-construction process in language free from technical jargon that is accessible to college students or general readers interested in the nature and structure of theories
  • Identifies the essential components that comprise theories—scientific explanations—of the human-development process, allowing readers to see how different thinkers address common concepts in their well-known theories
  • Offers five new theories built according to the guidelines proposed in the explanation of human development theory components
R. Murray Thomas, PhD, is professor emeritus of educational psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His published work includes Praeger's Moral Development Theories—Secular and Religious: A Comparative Study as well as Comparing Theories of Child Development, Recent Theories of Human Development, and contributions to Encyclopedia of Human Development and Education. Thomas holds a doctorate in psychology from Stanford University.
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