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Theories of Development (Erikson/Freud/Piaget)

  • Erik Erikson
    • Personality is determined by experiences during childhood and adulthood
    • He believed that stages of development were determined by crises
    • Stages of development:
      • Stage 1: Trust vs. Mistrust
        • Birth to age 1
        • Infants develop trust that their wants/needs will be satisfied by their parents
        • If parents are not attentive to childs wants/needs, infant will learn to mistrust
      • Stage 2: Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt
        • Age 1-3
        • Child no longer wants to be told what to do by parents, tries to assert his/her autonomy
          • “NO”
        • Child will learn to become autonomous if parents allow them a sense of control over their life
        • Child gains sense of individuality
        • Child may be cooperative or stubborn
      • Stage 3: Initiative vs. Guilt
        • Age 3-5
        • Child initiates motor and intellectual activity
      • Stage 4: Industry vs. Inferiority
        • Age 6 to 11 years
        • Child enters school and begins learning
        • Child works to acquire adult skills
        • Child learns how to complete and master tasks
        • If child struggles to acquire these adult skills they develop a sense of inferiority; may predispose these individuals to behavioral problems
      • Stage 5: Identity vs. Role Diffusion
        • Age 11-21
        • Group identity and preoccupation with appearances
        • People at this stage develop their own morality and ethics and deal with social expectations for behaviors
        • This is the stage at which individuals struggle to develop their identity
        • Sexual experimentation common here
      • Stage 6: Intimacy vs. Isolation
        • Age 21-40
        • Early adulthood
        • Individuals enter intimate relationships both sexually and as friends
      • Stage 7: Generativity vs. Stagnation
        • Age 40-65
        • Where person comes to terms with their life in terms of their accomplishments both professionally and personally; e.g. job success, marriage, having children, development of altruism or creativity
      • Stage 8: Integrity vs. Despair
        • Over age 65
        • Sense of satisfaction with one’s life vs. despair over an inability to acheive your goals
  • Sigmund Freud
    • Development is influenced by sexual drives
    • Stages of development:
      • Stage 1: Oral Stage
        • Birth to 18 months
        • Main site of pleasure/gratification is the mouth
        • Sucking, chewing, biting
      • Stage 2: Anal Stage
        • Age 1-3
        • Main site of pleasure/gratification is the anus
        • Child is struggling to control bowel/bladder function (toilet training)
        • Key is the struggle for control
        • If toilet training is difficult, child may become anally fixated and may not pass beyond Anal Stage
          • In adults, this may manifest itself as Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder
      • Stage 3: Phallic Stage
        • Age 3-5
        • Main site of pleasure/gratification is the genitals
        • Penis envy
          • girls want penis
        • Fear of castration
          • boys afraid of losing penis
        • Increased genital masturbation
        • Oedipal complex
          • Child is in love with opposite sex parent
      • Stage 4: Latency Stage
        • Age 5-13
        • Formation of superego
        • Oedipal complex resolved
        • Sexual energy is focused on other activities such as playing and learning
      • Stage 5: Genital Stage
        • Age 13 to adulthood
        • Individual develops capacity for true intimacy
  • Jean Piaget
    • Believes that human development related to the acquisition of knowledge
    • Intelligence is a biological adaptation and is structured logically
    • Stages of development:
      • Stage 1: Senorimotor Stage
        • Birth to age 2
        • Infants begin to acquire knowledge through sensory observation of their surrounding environment
        • Infants begin to master their motor function through exploration, being active, and by directly manipulating their environment
        • Infant gains sense of achievement via this mastery
        • Object permanence is acheived
      • Stage 2: Preoperational Stage
        • Age 2-7
        • Child views him/herself as center of universe
        • Therefore, child believes that they are responsible for everything that occurs in their universe
        • Children in this stage are egocentric and have animistic thinking
        • Child uses symbols and language more
      • Stage 3: Concrete Operational Stage
        • Age 7-11
        • Operational thought replaces egocentricity
        • Child develops the ability to see things from another persons perspective
      • Stage 4: Formal Operations Stage
        • Age 11 and up
        • Individual develops abstract thought
        • They are able to reason deductively and think conceptually


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