Piaget and Erikson Theories Essay - Essay Prowess

Piaget and Erikson Theories Essay


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Piaget and Erikson theories


The study of human development entails descriptions, explanations and more so the optimization of internal changes in an individual as well as individual differences resulting from such internal changes across one’s lifespan. Theories on human development as put across by Piaget and Erikson are based on psychological constructs suggesting that human development is realized as an individual transcends from one identifiable phase to another. This research paper seeks to discuss the theories as presented by these two psychologists.

Piaget’s theory of human development

The “Stages of Cognitive Development” in human development occur in four fundamental phases. The first stage is the Sensorimotor phase which he observed in children under the tender age of two. Here, human development is based on physical experiences and interactions. Human development in the Preoperational phase also referred to as the second phase is exhibited in children between the ages of 2 and 7 years via memory, symbols and imaginativeness presenting a child’s level of intelligence. At this age and development phase, egocentricity and illogical thinking are common as us of language matures.

The third phase is referred to as Concrete Operation’s phase. In this stage, children between the ages of 7 and 12 demonstrate intelligence via systematic maneuvering of symbols relative to tangible objects. Thought patterns are operational, can be reversed and egocentricity is less pronounced as compared to the Preoperational stage. The fourth phase is the Formal Operations phase. Evident in children aged from 12. Intelligence is exhibited via logical applications of symbols relative to abstract notions. The thought patterns demonstrated are rather abstract, theoretical with very egocentric tendencies at the beginning of a conversation.

Erikson’s theory of Human Development

The first phase is the trust versus mistrust phase. This phase can be equated to the level of interaction a mother offers her baby such that development is based on infantile experiences. Human development in this phase integrates the availability of trust and consistence towards such trust towards the growth of self. The second phase is the autonomy versus shame and self doubt. In this phase, an individual experiences inner and outer conflicts in the effort to achieve a level of self control and dependence.  The third phase of human development is the initiative versus guilt stage. This is where an individual incorporates acquired skills and autonomy towards the pursuance of novel tasks. The individual seeks to attain reasonable goals, build on his or her self esteem while also reaching out to supportive networks in community. Industry versus inferiority is the fourth stage which basically involves an individual’s quest to align self with rewarding work and healthy leisure activities. The fifth stage is the identity versus role confusion phase which relates to conflicts arising from the separation of personal identity and the inner emotions of disability to perform certain tasks. The sixth phase is the intimacy versus isolation stage in which an individual seeks to find intimacy and more so increase the level of interaction with the society by fostering a higher sense of inner peace. The seventh stage is the generativity versus stagnation stage, in which an individual seeks to incorporate a lifelong objective for living responsibly with the self and the community. The last phase of human development is the integrity versus despair stage in which an individual accepts the twists and turns experienced in life towards molding the present self as a strong and able personality.

Comparisons in the two theories

Piaget and Erikson were insightful contributors in developmental psychology all based on their personal life experiences, Piaget based on the development of his own children and Erickson based on his own personal development. The human development as outline by both theorists heavily outlined the environment in which a person relates with and more so close community members and the society at large based on cultural values and the physical environment.

Piaget’s hypothetical framework on human development is based on cognitive development in children in relation to the emotional and social self development. He provided the ideals that the process is both in an effort to align and realign abstract psychosocial frameworks such as representations, assimilations adaptability and accommodating physical and social environments to personal development.

Erickson’s theory on human development is based on the outer and inner conflicts in the development of an individual’s personality through recovery from a situational crisis with a higher degree of inner peace, better judgment, and improvements on personal ideals. Erikson proposed that the successful growth from one phase of human development to the next results in the molding of strong ego with the ability to succeed over past failures.

Contrasts in the two theories

Erikson and Piaget theories are quite different relative to child development Piaget’s first stage suggests that a child imitates the social interaction with family members while adapting to the physical environment while Erickson suggests that development is enhanced or derailed on the basis of the presence of trust. Erikson suggests that orientation to family members and basic needs as important to growth.  Erickson’s theory was fundamentally based on his personal experiences growing up in a rigid society and in a taboo family setting. He related his personal experiences in the eight stages of personal development after he became interested in psychology after he went through psychoanalysis sessions with Anna Freud.

On the other hand Piaget based his theory on the behaviors noted in his children based on their age bracket. The similarities in their development made him come to conclusions that children development were ideally based on the cognitive aspects of development. The main difference between the two theories is that Erikson incorporates the outer interaction with the society that Piaget fails to incorporate.


These two early human development theorists expanded on the ground work presented by Freud and more so helped theorists top incorporate these theories in determining the proper and more practical aspects into the treatment of mentally ill patients as in Erikson’s case and in the formulation of education policies as in Piaget’s case. Further developments on the studies in psychology have been greatly influenced by these two early theorists.