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Theories of Human Development Research Paper


This paper is aimed at discussing the theories of human development which were introduced by Erik Erikson and Jean Piaget. Much attention should be paid to the way in which these psychologists explain the role of culture that includes a set of values, beliefs, and attitudes that shape the behavior of an individual (Matsumoto, 2001).

Overall, it is possible to argue that Erik Erikson’s approach better explains the role of culture and its impact on the behavior of an individual. These are the main questions that should be discussed more closely. In both cases, researchers identify specific stages which can be viewed as the main milestones in the psychological development of an individual.

For instance, Erik Erikson identifies eight stages, while Piaget distinguishes six stages. Both theorists argue that the development of a person follows certain sequential patterns (Staudinger, 2003, p. 170). Yet, one should mention that Piaget attaches importance to the cognitive skills of an individual, for instance, it is possible to mention a child’s ability to distinguish cause and effect (Lerner, 2013).

Moreover, much attention is paid to aspects as creativity, memory, deductive and inductive reasons, and so forth. In turn, the stages described by Erik Erikson can be viewed a series of conflicts that a person should resolve in the course of his/her development (Staudinger, 2003, p. 170). For instance, one can mention the choice between trust and mistrust, initiative or guilt, intimacy and isolation.

The way in which a person resolves one of these conflicts can shape his/her later development. For instance, if this person chooses in favor of mistrust, he/she may become less sociable. The difference between models does not imply one of them is superior to another. To a great extent, they can complement one another.

Furthermore, one should point out that Erikson’s model covers the entire lifespan of a person while Piaget’s approach focuses on the first twenty years. These are the main differences that should be considered. Overall, it is possible to argue that Erikson’s model better explains the impact of culture on the development of a person.

For instance, the choice between initiative and guilt can be partly affected by the cultural and family background of an individual. For instance, in some cultures, initiative can be encouraged, and a person is not prohibited from taking independent steps. In contrast, some cultures lay stress on the respect for authority figures whose permission is required a person who wants to take a certain step.

So, culture is one of the forces that should be considered. These are the main issues that should be singled out. To some degree, Erik Erikson’s model enables researchers to consider the role of culture. In particular, it influences the inner conflicts within an individual. In contrast, Piaget’s model is aimed at demonstrating that cognitive development is not dependent on culture. This is one of the issues that should be identified.

On the whole, this comparison indicates that the theories of human development do not explain the role of culture in the same way. According to some of them, psychological development is not affected by a set of values, attitudes, or beliefs imbedded in the society.

This argument is particular relevant if one speaks about Jean Piaget’s model of cognitive development. Other theorists provide more opportunity for incorporating culture into this discussion. This argument is relevant if one speaks about Erik Erikson’s approach which enables a person to examine the influence of external factors, including culture.

Reference List

Psychology Press.Lerner, R. (2013). Concepts and Theories of Human Development. New York, NY:

Matsumoto, D. (2001). The handbook of culture and psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, US.

Staudinger, U. (2003). Understanding Human Development: Dialogues with Lifespan Psychology. New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Theories of Human Development." June 22, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/theories-of-human-development-2/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Theories of Human Development'. 22 June.

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