Erikson’s and Kohlberg’s Developmental Theories Essay

The question about the development of personality and different stages, which each person goes through during the human life, is an object of detailed study of many psychologists. Each respected school of psychology presents the theory of development. Psychologists present different theories aiming to explain human behavior, factors that form and influence it. There is no agreement on this point of view and new theories appear with the development of the science. Different scientists center on different aspects of human life.

Erikson developed Eight stages of life theory. His theory is based on basic conflicts or challenges the person faces during his or her life and the way he or she resolves them. He states that the person gets new knowledge and skills in accordance to the conflict, which plays a dominant role during a certain period of life. The basic task of the first stage, which lasts from one to one and half year, is to develop trust. During this stage parents should help children to develop the trust to the social world, which surrounds them.

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Children should grow up with the realization that the world around them is safe and people are reliable and loving. If this does not happen the child will develop mistrust. The basic facts which prove that the proper degree of trust has been developed is a child’s ability to wait for satisfaction of his needs. If the child has enough trust for the world, he or she can wait for some time till his needs are satisfied. The next stage lasts from one year and a half to three years. The feeling of autonomy is developed during this period.

During this stage the child investigates the world around him and develops the sense of autonomy and independence. If parents are too controlling and don’t give child enough freedom and independence, the opposing feelings will be developed. This can happen if parents discourage their child or push him too much. Self-respect and self-esteem are also developed during this stage. During the third stage children learn to show initiative. Is this does not happen, they develop the feeling of guilt. This stage lasts during the period between three and five years.

Children should learn to express themselves in the external world. They should learn to express initiative, to be artistic and creative. Children learn how to plan and make projects during this stage. The fourth stage starts at the age of six and lasts about six years. The main challenge of this period is a task to develop the skill of industry. During this period children learn to learn. They study to control their time. They develop the feeling of success and learn how to react to the feedback of others – their parents, teachers, and peers.

They adopt social skills and learn to work in groups. If basic skills are not developed, the feeling of inferiority may appear during this stage. Excessive feeling of industry can also be dangerous as it can lead to excessive self-esteem, so the right balance between inferiority and industry is the best variant. During the next stage, which lasts from 12 to 18 years, people make their journey into adolescence. Developing right social roles, young people get their ego identity during this stage. During this stage teenagers enter the world of adults and learnt to live in this world.

Erikson states that those, who successfully pass this stage and overcome the crisis of personality, get the virtue of fidelity or loyalty. The sixth stage lasts from 18 to 30 years. Erikson called this stage “young adulthood”. During this stage people try to get the relations of intimacy with others. If this does not happen, they find themselves in isolation from the rest of the world. Intimacy is an ability to build relations with other people. During this period people most often get married, build family. The main achievement people get passing this stage is the building of loving relationships.

Some people experience the fear of commitment during this stage. They are afraid of serious relationship and sharing life with another person. If they do not overcome the challenge of this stage, they will not achieve the necessary degree of intimacy. The seventh stage describes the period of middle adulthood. The time span of this stage is hard to define as different people can pass this crisis in different age. In modern society people pass this stage between the age of 20 and 50. During this stage people start thinking about things, they can give to the world.

Very often people start thinking about the giving birth to children during this stage. If the sixth stage is overcome, people start thinking about giving the future for their love. Bringing up children is a usual way of realization of generativity, which is the main focus during this period, but Erikson also speaks about other ways people can find their realization and bring use to others. This can be achieved through creativity, social activism and other ways to contribute to the development of further generations.

The last stage called maturity starts after 60 years old. Erikson states that the main task of this stage is to develop the ego integrity. If this does not happen, people start feeling despair and senselessness of their existence. This stage is characterized by the reducing of social roles and many people feel their uselessness during this period. Many people get retired and lose their occupation they dedicated their lives to, health problems also make the situation difficult. Grown up children leave their parents. People oftener meet their friends and relatives’ death.

If the person achieves ego integrity, he learns how to come in terms with his or her life and obtain the virtue, which Erikson defines as wisdom. “Someone who approaches death without fear has the strength of wisdom. It is a gift to children, because “healthy children will not fear life if their elders have integrity enough not to fear death. ” (Marcia, p. 555) Kohlberg created a theory of moral thinking development. He describes the stages people pass through during their moral development. He defines six stages of the moral conscious growth.

These stages make three levels of moral thinking: pre-conventional level (includes obedience and punishment stage and self-esteem orientation stage), conventional (includes interpersonal accord and conformity stage and social-order orientation stage), post-conventional (includes social contract stage and universal ethic principles stage). The first stage Kohlberg defines as obedience and punishment orientation. He states that during this stage children have no moral judgement yet and acts only because of fear of punishment or in the anticipation of reward.

The second stage is called Individualism and exchange. During this stage children start realizing that there is more than one point of view and that truth can be different from the one, proclaimed by the authorities. Children get aware of the conflict between individual interests and authorities. The third stage belongs to the next level, which is called conventional morality. This stage Kohlberg defines as a good interpersonal relationship stage. This stage starts during the period of puberty.

Expectations of the family and opinion of other people becomes the main factors, which define the righteousness of any actions. During this period teenagers believe that any deeds can be moral and good if they are motivated by the feeling of love, trust or empathy. The moral during the fourth stage serves to maintain social order. During this stage people are preoccupied with the interest of the society as a whole. “Because stage 4, subjects make moral decisions from the perspective of society as a whole, they think from a full-fledged member-of-society perspective (Kohlberg, 1996, p. 170). Next two stages taken together compose the level of Postconventional Morality. During the fifth stage people start making choice between social contract and individual rights. People stop idealizing the society they live in and build their own perception of ideal society, where rights and freedoms of any individual are important. During this stage people make an independent moral judgement about social structure and the role of individual inside this society. During the sixth stage people start using universal principles while making their moral judgements.

In this stage people start seeking for higher principles than democratic ones. They realize that democracy can also be discriminating and start searching for some universal laws, which would satisfy everyone’s needs. Kohlberg believed in linear development of morality. This means that person is able to pass only one stage at a time and can’t skip any to achieve higher level. Erikson extended Freudian teaching about the stages of development. In contrast to Freudian classification, which described only childhood, Erikson’s stages covered all human life.

Being socially directed, he was centered on the functions of ego as main mechanism aiming to develop healthy mechanisms of dealing with the surrounding world (Graves, S. B. , Larkin). Though Erikson based his stages of development on Freudian psychosexual theory, he made some changes in basic features of the theory. He didn’t believe sexuality and instincts to be the only factors, which influenced the development of personality. Erikson put an emphasis on social and cultural factors and their influence on the development of an individual.

He believed that each of eight developmental stages contained task of psychosocial nature for an individual to resolve. Erikson called the stages according to qualities, which should have been developed by the personality during passing through them. These stages are: hope or trust, will, purpose, competence, fidelity, love, care and wisdom accordingly. Though Erikson called tasks “crises”, which need to be overcome, he didn’t believe as Freud that not passing any stage made individual stuck in it (Graves, Larkin). He believed that problematic issues could have been worked on any stage in the context of current tasks.

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