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Compare and contrast Erik Erikson's psychosocial stages theory and Piaget's developmental theory. How to apply these theories into real life?

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Comparison and contrast: Eriksson’s psychosocial stages theory and Piaget's developmental theory



Ideally, Clark-Stewart, Friedman and Koch (1985), indicated theories of human development consist of models of how community changes over an instance and that Jean Piaget and Erik Eriksson have formulated theories of human development (Piaget) in 1951, 1954 as well as (Erikson) in 1950. However, character of every man's developmental theory differ, proponent Pervin (1981) asserted that Eriksson’s psychosocial developmental model is alternative with regards to psychoanalysis and its perspectives, view of development as to which insensible forces said to motivate human behavior. Moreover, discrepancy from standard psychoanalytic thinking present in Eriksson’s standpoint is the addition of social and cultural authority. Thus, interesting difference in Piaget and Eriksson theories are concerns whether people must go through assume developmental stages. For instance, Eriksson’s model, if human being lives long enough, he will face each developmental crisis and may not resolve crisis but he/she will pass through it at the given time. While, for Piaget theory, every human being will pass through each stage and theory holds and believe that some individual will never achieve complete maturation of his own action and behavior.


There give details to stages of psychosocial development as people should pass from infancy up to adulthood. Eriksson, stage allows person confrontation and have innovative challenges. The stages builds on flourishing completion of previous stages. There Eriksson’s centering infant's basic needs being met by the parents. The infant depend on the mother, for food and comfort. The understanding of earth and culture from parents and interaction with the child, infant's world will be one of trust. Should parents fail to provide secure environment, mistrust will upshot. Erikson, developmental duty in infancy is to find out whether or not other communities frequently satisfy essential needs. The child gain organization over eliminative function and motor ability, there discover ample environs. Another, initiative add to autonomy the excellence of responsibility, preparation and attacking on move, the child is learning to master the world, learning skills and values of physics. There can be development of courage and independence; children face challenges of initiative versus guilt. Furthermore, Bee and Boyd (2004) have noted that, the child face complexities of planning and developing sense of judgment, child learns to take initiative and prepare for leadership and goal achievement roles. Allen and Marotz (2003) listed perceptual cognitive developmental character precise for age group, like children are enthusiastic to study and achieve multifaceted skills: reading, writing and so on. Thus, distinguish educational and person difference, able to administer personal requirements and groom with assistance (Allen and Marotz, 2003), children articulate autonomy by being defiant, being naughty.

For Erikson, if children optimistic to do things and are then praised begin to demonstrate industry by being diligent, persevering at errands until finished and putting labor before enjoyment. If children are punished for efforts or if incapable of meeting teacher and parent outlook, there developed manner of inferiority about capabilities.

Erikson believed isolated can be due to intimacy, afraid of rejection like turned down or partners breaking up and familiar with pain, rejection is painful and readiness to isolate and if necessary, to destroy those forces and people whose essence seems dangerous, whose territory seems to encroach on extent of one's close relations (Eriksson, 1956; Hsueh, 2004; Hsueh, 2005). In contrast, for Piaget, person who is selfish and not capable or unwilling to assist society move forward develop feeling of stagnation and lack of efficiency. Thus, Erikson saw dynamic at work throughout life, one that did not stop at adolescence, life stages were linear for an individual but circular for societal development and value of Piaget can be lighten up why individuals who had been thwarted in the healthy resolution of early phases had such difficulty with the crises that came in adulthood. There is debate as to whether people only search for identity during the adolescent years or if one stage needs to happen before other stages can be completed, Erikson state that every processes occur all over lifetime, emphasizing phases as conflicts turn out to be well-known (Erikson, 1956). Piaget did not focus much on the fact of the children's answers being wrong, but that young children consistently made identical mistake that older children and adults did not and leading the theory that young children's cognitive process is intrinsically different from adults. Piaget was to propose global theory of developmental stages stating that individuals exhibit certain distinctive common patterns of cognition in the development. Piaget proposed that children moved from a position of egocentrism to sociocentrism, began the interview by asking children standardized questions and depending on how they answered, he would ask them a series of nonstandard questions. Piaget was looking for what he called “spontaneous conviction” so he often asked questions the children neither expected nor anticipated. Piaget then made the assumption whenever one transforms the world to meet individual needs or conceptions; one is, in a way, assimilating it. Piaget also observed his children not only assimilating objects to fit their needs, but also modifying some of their mental structures to meet the demands of the environment. This is the second division of adoption known as accommodation. Piaget (1953) projected intellectual development as an upward expanding spiral in which children must constantly reconstruct the ideas formed at earlier levels with new, higher order concepts acquired at the next level. Piaget studied areas of intelligence like perception and memory that aren’t entirely logical. Logical concepts are described as being completely reversible because they can always get back to the starting point. The perceptual concepts Piaget studied could not be manipulated. To describe the figurative process, Piaget uses pictures as examples. Pictures can’t be separated because contours cannot be separated from the forms they outline. Memory is the same way. It is never completely reversible (Burman, 2007; 2008; McKinney, Parker and Taylor, 1999).

For Piaget, children knowledge the world through movement and senses, in sensorimotor stage children are awfully selfish, meaning they cannot perceive the world from others' viewpoints along with sub-stages, simple reflex, first habits and primary circular reactions, secondary circular reaction, harmonization of secondary circular reaction, tertiary circular reactions and internalization of schemes (McKinney, Parker and Taylor, 1999). The egocentrism begin powerfully and then weakens as children cannot conserve or use logical thinking. Also, children can now conserve and think logically but only with practical aids thus, children develop abstract thought and can easily conserve and think logically.

Another, youth have certain unique excellence in a person's life; bridge between childhood and adulthood, the ability of mind to search intentions and intention of others, sharpened awareness of roles society for life (Gross, 1987; Stevens, 1983). In addition, given right condition, Erikson believed in psychological moratorium, when person can generously explore, of emotional alertness (Gross, 1987; The Theoretical Basis for the Life Model-Research And Resources On Human Development, 2009). According to Erikson, when an adolescent has balanced both perspectives of “What have I got?” and “What am I going to do with it?” he or she has established their identity (PSY 345 Lecture Notes, 2009; Kail and Cavanaugh, 2004), Erikson does note that the time of Identity crisis for persons of genius is frequently prolonged. He further notes that in our industrial society, identity formation tends to be long, because it takes us so long to gain the skills needed for adulthood’s tasks in our technological world. Piaget provided no concise description of the development process, the child performs an action which has an effect on or organizes objects, and the child is able to note the characteristics of the action and its effects. Through repeated actions, perhaps with variations or in different contexts or on different kinds of objects, the child is able to differentiate and integrate its elements and effects. This is the process of reflecting concept (Piaget 2002). Also for Erikson, turning point in human development seems to be reconciliation between 'the person one has come to be' and 'the person society expects one to become', forging past experience with anticipation, corresponding crossroads of life. "Every adult, whether he is a follower or leader was once a child, triumphs will be measured against this smallness and his defeats will substantiate it (Erikson, 1950). Thus, the child is able to identify the properties of objects by the way different kinds of action affect them, process of empirical abstraction. However, once the child has constructed these new kinds of knowledge, he or she starts to use them to create still more complex objects and to carry out still more complex actions. The transitions between stages tend to be rapid and radical, and the bulk of the time spent in new stage consists of refining this new cognitive level. For example, by showing how children progressively enrich their understanding of things by acting on and reflecting on the effects of their own previous knowledge, they are able to organize their knowledge in increasingly complex structures.

Truly, for Eriksson power can be distributed between symmetrical relationship emerges, authentic form of intellectual exchange become possible; each partner has the freedom to project his or her own thoughts, consider the positions of others, and defend his or her own point of view. Piaget, where children’s thinking is not limited by dominant influence, Piaget believed in reconstruction of knowledge for emergence of constructive solutions to problems, exists. Indeed, knowledge that emerge can be unfasten, supple and synchronized by the logic of argument rather than being determined by an external authority, cooperative relations provide the arena for the emergence of operations, which for Piaget require absence of any constraining influence, illustrated by relations that structured into (Psaltis and Duveen, 2006; Psaltis and Duveen 2007).


Therefore, Eriksson and Piaget’s theories are important to the study of man’s stages of growth and development, a continuous understanding and awareness to human life cycle here on earth. There poses that Piaget (1952) asserted that, children developed best in classroom with interaction. Piaget believed in two basic principles relating to moral education: that children develop moral ideas in stages and that children create their conceptions of the world. Proponent have mentioned that, “Piaget does recognize that a child is someone who constructs his own moral world view, who forms ideas about right and wrong, and fair and unfair, that are not the direct product of adult teaching and that are often maintained in the face of adult wishes to the contrary" (Gallagher, 1978, p. 26). Piaget believed that children made moral judgments based on their own observations of the world. Moreover, Piaget proposed that morality developed out of peer interaction and that it was autonomous from authority mandates. Peers, not parents was key foundation of moral concepts such as fairness, reciprocity and integrity. Piaget refer the process as one of social transmission, illustrating it through reference to the way in which the elders of a tribe initiate younger members into the patterns of beliefs and practices of the group. Similarly, where adults exercise dominating influence over the growing child, it is through social transmission that children can acquire knowledge.

Application of theories in real life

Application of theories by Erikson and Piaget can be effective and accessed in the academic world, giving information to discuss and analyze mostly in the field of psychology related studies. Thus, spontaneous account to learning through educative modules and course work, placing weight on human existence thus, recognizing infants’ development, down to childhood, and adulthood processes. There applies to the causal relations as well as development of human rationality of things known and discovered by stages and life span development. Valuing psychology based education as well as professionalism ground. Accordingly, “for most people, trying to lead children does resemble in a typical adult of the society, there allows emphasis on theories contribution to everyday life of a person, existence manifested through creation acceptance as such determination of human innovators not traditionalist (Bringuier, 1980, p. 132). The value and importance of understanding stages and development of life that is imperative to motherhood and the rest of the society formation and culture.


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Bee, H and Boyd, D (2004). The Developing Child. (10th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Bringuier, J.C. (1980). Conversations with Piaget. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Burman, J. T. (2007). Piaget No `Remedy' for Kuhn, But the Two Should be Read Together: Comment on Tsou's `Piaget vs. Kuhn on Scientific Progress'. Theory & Psychology, 17(5), 721-732.

Burman, J. T. (2008). Experimenting in relation to Piaget: Education is a chaperoned process of adaptation. Perspectives on Science, 16(2), 160-195. doi:10.1162/posc.2008.16.2.160

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 Hsueh, Y. (2004). "He sees the development of children's concepts upon a background of sociology": Jean Piaget's honorary degree at Harvard University in 1936. History of Psychology, 7(1), pp. 20-44. doi:10.1037/1093-4510.7.1.20

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McKinney, Michael L.; Parker, Sue Taylor (1999). Origins of intelligence: the evolution of cognitive development in monkeys, apes, and humans. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-6012-1. 

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Psaltis, C., & Duveen, G. (2006). Social relations and cognitive development: The influence of conversation types and representations of gender. European Journal of Social Psychology, 36, 407-430.

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PSY 345 Lecture Notes - Ego Psychologists, Erik Erikson,, retrieved 2009-08-11 

Stevens, Richard. (1983). Erik Erikson, An Introduction. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 50.

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