Developmental Theories

Theorists consider that emotional, social, cognitive and moral skills develop in stages.

  1. Psychosocial – Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development is most widely used. At each stage, children confront a crisis that requires the integration of personal needs and skills with social and cultural expectations. Each stage has two possible components, favorable and unfavorable.
  2. Psychosexual – Sigmund Freud considered sexual instincts to be significant in the development of personality. At each stage, regions of the body assume prominent psychologic significance as source of pleasure.
  3. Cognitive – Jean Piaget proposed four major stages of development for logical thinking. Each stage arises from and builds on the previous stage in an orderly fashion.
  4. Moral – Lawrence Kohlberg’s theory of moral development is based on cognitive development and consists of three major levels, each containing two stages.
Stage
Erikson
Freud
Piaget
Kohlberg
Infancy
(birth to 1 year)
Trust vs. mistrust
Oral
Sensorimotor (birth to 2 years)
Toddlerhood
(1-3 years old)
Autonomy vs. same and doubt
Anal
Sensorimotor (1-2 years); preoperational (preconceptual) (2-4 years)
Preconventional
Preschool
(3-6 years old)
Initiative vs. guilt
Phallic
Preoperational (preconceptual) (2-4 years); preoperational (intuitive) (4-7 years)
Preconventional
School Age
(6-12 years)
Industry vs. inferiority
Latency
Concrete operations
(7-11 years)
Conventional
Adolescence
(12-18 years)
Identity vs. role diffusion (confusion)
Genital
Formal operations
(11-15 years)
Postconventional

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