Sarah A. Hays
January 28, 2013
Life span Perspective
The development of human beings throughout life has been the focus of many psychologists, such as Sigmund Freud, Erik Erikson, and Jean Piaget. Freud believed that the unconscious motives, along with early childhood experiences shape personality. Erikson’s stage theory proposed that people evolve through life depending upon a psychosocial crisis in critical periods of life. “The strength of Erikson’s theory is that it accounts for both continuity and transition in personality development,” (Weiton, 2004, p. 440). Piaget’s theory consisted of four stages of development discernible through increasing thinking abilities. These theorists contributed to the life-span perspective of development.
Theories of Development
Sigmund Freud was the first academic to venture a theory of development, and how critical stages of life affect one’s future. His psychoanalytic theory consisted of three stages taking place within the first six years of life. His idea was that unconscious drives, motivations, and needs during childhood influence every aspect to thinking and behavior. “According to Freud, development in the first six years occurs in three stages, each characterized by sexual interest and pleasure centered on a particular part of the body” (Berger, 2008, p. 36). These stages include the oral stage beginning at birth, the anal stage at 1 to 3 years of age, and the phallic stage ranging from 3 to 6 years of age.
“Erikson partitioned the life span into eight stages, each of which brings a psychosocial crisis involving transitions in important social relationships,” (Weiton, 2004, p. 439). Personality is shaped by how one copes with these crises, and also contributes to future development. These stages begin with trust versus mistrust, which begins in the first year of life. Environmental necessities, such as food, warmth, and other basic biological...