Erik Erikson’s and Lawrence Kohlberg developed several different theories that demonstrated each phase of our lives. Their theories demonstrated how each stage developed and how the stages help to make us who we are today. We develop, learn, and revolutionize through developmental and moral developments. This paper will illustrate how each developmental and moral development represents each stage of life.
Erik Erikson’s stages of developmental theory consist of eight stages of development versus Lawrence Kohlberg’s six stages of moral developmental theory. Both of these theorists beliefs were different when it came to the breakdown of each stage. Erikson’s infant stage which consisted of trust vs. mistrust which is “the need for maximum comfort with minimal uncertainty to trust himself/herself, others, and the environment( Patient Teaching, 1990).” This is a stage that I cannot relate to because I do not have any memories from infancy. Kohlberg’s first stage is “obedience and punishment” which relates that a “child assumes that powerful authorities hand down a fixed set of rules which he or she must unquestioningly obey (Kohlberg, 1958b). For example, your principle in your elementary school down to your teacher is an authority figure. I relate to Kohlberg’s stage because I can remember growing up and knew that my parents, teachers, and principles were my authority figures. I knew that I must obey them and if I did not that it would result in severe punishments and sometimes multiple punishments from each individual. Being a female, a felt that I feared authority figures more than my brothers or other boys in my class.
Second stage of Erickson’s was the “toddler” stage “autonomy vs shame and doubt-works to master physical environment while maintaining self esteem “The second stage occurs between 18 months and 3 years. At this point, the child has an opportunity to build self-esteem and autonomy as he or she learns new skills and right from wrong. The well-cared for child is sure of himself, carrying him or herself with pride rather than shame. During this time of the “terrible twos”, defiance, temper tantrums, and stubbornness can also appear. Children tend to be vulnerable during this stage, sometimes feeling shame and low self-esteem during an inability to learn certain skills (Erikson, 1968).” Kolberg’s second stage “Individualism and Exchange” “At this stage children recognize that there is not just one right view that is handed down by the authorities. Different individuals have different viewpoints (Kohlberg, 1963, p. 24).” Both Erikson’s and Kohlberg’s theory can be a demonstrated at an early childhood stage. One learned that they were an individual and that one had to respect authority figures. I can remember a time that I was in preschool and I was asked why I took another child’s crayon. I remember stating to the teacher that I wanted my crayons to remain new. I was already developing a sense of being selfish and using others. That was not the route to take which was expressed to me by both my teacher and my parents.
The third stage is “Initiative vs. Guilt” which demonstrates “purpose” “During this period we experience a desire to copy the adults around us and take initiative in creating play situations. We make up stories with Barbie’s and Ken’s, toy phones and miniature cars, playing out roles in a trial universe, experimenting with the blueprint for what we believe it means to be an adult. We also begin to use that wonderful word for exploring the world—”WHY?”(Erikson, 1968)” Whereas Kolhberg’s stage result in “good interpersonal relationships” At this stage children--who are by now usually entering their teens--see morality as more than simple deals. They believe that people should live up to the expectations of the family and community and behave in "good" ways. Good behavior means having good motives and interpersonal feelings such as love, empathy, trust, and concern for others. Heinz, they typically argue, was right to steal the drug because "He was a good man for wanting to save her," and "His intentions were good, that of saving the life of someone he loves." Even if Heinz doesn't love his wife, these subjects often say, he should steal the drug because "I don't think any husband should sit back and watch his wife die" (Gibbs et al., 1983, pp. 36-42; Kohlberg, 1958b). These two stages are somewhat different in comparison. Erikson’s theory is basically demonstrates how a child mimics what he or she see by using inanimate objects. I believed every little girl played house with Barbie and little boys played cowboys and Indians. I loved to play in my doll house at the age of 4 and older. I also was starting to demonstrate what was right or wrong. Erikson’s fourth stage “School-Age Child (Competence) – Industry vs. Inferiority” “the Latency, we are capable of learning, creating and accomplishing numerous new skills and knowledge, thus developing a sense of industry (Erikson, 1968).” Kohlberg fourth stage is “Maintaining the Social Order reasoning works best in two-person relationships with family members or close friends, where one can make a real effort to get to know the other's feelings and needs and try to help (Crain, 1985, p 124).” These two stages exemplify several social skills. There are alike in detail. The age range from 6 to 12 is a very adequate age. I can recall being in the 4th and 5th grade and starting to have friends. I was a cheerleader and was learning that you have to be social in order to develop friendships. I was also taught by parents that little boys teased and picked on me because they liked you. I did not understand this but as I got older I slowly started to understand the concept of relationships. Next, the fifth stage of Erikson is “Identity vs. Role Confusion – Fidelity” “. At this point, development now depends primarily upon what a person does. An adolescent must struggle to discover and find his or her own identity, while negotiating and struggling with social interactions and “fitting in”, and developing a sense of morality and right from wrong (Erikson, 1968)” Thus, Kohlberg’s fifth stage is “social contract and individual rights respondents basically believe that a good society is best conceived as a social contract into which people freely enter to work toward the benefit of all. They recognize that different social groups within a society will have different values, but they believe that all rational people would agree on two points. First they would all want certain basic rights, such as liberty and life, to be protected (Crain, 1985, p.125).” I feel that both of these stages are very similar. We want society to help us while giving back to society. It shows a sense of being part of something big. For example, I like the fact that I am able to vote. I believe that voting is a huge part of being part of society. It is important to know and feel that importance.
The sixth stage of Erikson is “Intimacy and Solidarity vs. Isolation – Love” “the age is from 18-35, at the young adult stage, people tend to seek companions hip and love. Some also begin to “settle down” and start families, although seems to have been pushed back farther in recent years (Erikson, 1968).” Final stage of Kolhberg is “universal principles which believes that there must be a higher stage--stage 6--which defines the principles by which we achieve justice (Crain, 1985, p132).” These two stages are very different. Erikson is speaking about finding love which is considered your soul mate. Ages 18 through 35 is the common age that people start settling down and having children. I was 21 when I gave birth to my daughter. I tried to stay with her father which was 7 years older than me. He had not matured and did not want to step up to his responsibilities, even though he was much older than me. Kohlberg felt that stage 6 which resulted in the final decision of respecting each other’s beliefs. I find myself using an open mind and not judging anyone for their differences. I can relate to both of these stages.
Erikson’s last two stages are “Middle-aged Adult: age ranges from 35 to 55 or 65 and the stage is Generativity vs. Self absorption or Stagnation which is defined as Care “Career and work are the most important things at this stage, along with family. Middle adulthood is also the time when people can take on greater responsibilities and control (Erikson, 1968).” Next, “Late Adult: age ranges from 55 or 65 to Death and the stage Integrity vs. Despair defined as wisdom As older adults, some can look back with a feeling of integrity — that is, contentment and fulfillment, having led a meaningful life and valuable contribution to society. Others may have a sense of despair during this stage, reflecting upon their experiences and failures( Erikson, 1968).” I am not at either stage of my life. I am very close to middle age. I actually consider myself to be a middle aged adult now. I am focused on furthering my career and supporting my family. I feel that this stage should be very important to both males and females. I have learned from working in the criminal justice field that this stage is not very important to males in society. There are more men in prison and jail than there are females. These men do not put the proper priorities in order to stay stable and have legitimate career. I am destine to reach far beyond 65 and live my life prosperous.
In Closing, these two theorists had the same theories in mind. They described each stage of development differently. There concepts both compared and contrast with each other’s stages. I related to both theorists. I consider my life as a mirror of both Erikson’s and Kohlberg’s stages. Their phases exemplify positive and refined steps of everyone’s life.
Crain, W.C. (1985). Theories of Development. Prentice-Hall. pp. 118-136. Erikson, E. H. (1968). Identity: Youth and crisis. New York: Norton.