Topics: Developmental psychology, Erikson's stages of psychosocial development, Erik Erikson Pages: 9 (2346 words) Published: December 19, 2013

Lifespan Development Defined

As the lifespan has been evaluated by many Developmental Psychologists, many different definitions and perspective have evolved. An accumulation of theories suggests that lifespan development can be identified as “a study of the miraculous changes a person goes through from birth until death. Lifespan development covers all stages of development and progress from the birth of a person to their death (Herron, 2010).

Theories of Lifespan Development

Two important theories to life span development are Eriksson and Piaget and although their theories are similar they were also very different. For the purpose of this assignment I will look at their theories and compare their concepts.

Jean Piaget (1896-1980)

“Piaget was the first psychologist to make a systematic study of cognitive development. His contributions include a theory of cognitive development, detailed observational studies of cognition in children and a series of tests to reveal different cognitive abilities.”(

“Piaget’s ideas developed from his early work with children from the 1930’s onwards when he discovered that many of them gave the same kind of wrong answers to questions.”(Barbara Woods 1997, 18) This highlights at certain stages we can respond similarly. “Piaget said that children were actively trying to make sense of the world, to explore it and test it like little scientists.” (Barbara Woods 1997, p18)

“The theory of cognitive development focuses on mental processes such as perceiving, remembering, believing, and reasoning. Reasoning is the essence of intelligence, and reasoning is what Piaget studied in order to discover “how we come to know” (Singer & Revenson, 1997, p. 13). “Piaget believed that cognitive development is cumulative; that is, understanding a new experience grows out of a previous learning experience.” ( This highlight that development is continuous in Piaget’s theory that we are constantly learning and building our skills and maturing.

“Jean Piaget proposed that cognitive development occurred as a result of the individual’s adaption to the environment stating we are born with simple abilities to take in information about the world and these develop as we mature and interact with the world.” (Barbara Woods 1987. p18) Cognitive development theory basically helps us learn about our thinking and how we develop and build upon previous skills to acquire new skills.

Piaget theorized that through the learning process, “children change their schemata by adapting, due to assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation adds new information to the existing schemata while adaptation modifies new information into the schemata. Ideally, there is balance between assimilation and accommodation to ensure equilibrium. ( “Together, assimilation and accommodation are processes of adjustment to changes in the environment and are defined as adaptation, the continuous process of using the environment to learn. And, according to Piaget, adaptation is the most important principle of human functioning.” (

” Piaget was particularly interested in the development of logical thinking and problem solving & proposed that this developed through four stages.”(Barbara Woods 1997, p18) “Piaget believed in a stage theory of development, Hilgard 1977 describes stage theory as a dissociative state in which there exists various systems of control which are not all conscious at the same time. Tony Malim 1988, p207. Stage theory basically says that each stage builds on the previous stage and Piaget believed that a child’s cognitive performance was directly related to the stage they are in, To explain his theory, Piaget used the concept of stages to describe development as a sequence of the four following stages: Age range

Description of stage
Developmental Phenomena
Sensorimotor-Experiencing the world through...
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