Erickson vs. Kohlberg Essay

Erickson vs. Kohlberg Essay

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The field of developmental psychology is always being questioned and therefore expanded. Thousands of renowned psychologists have contributed to this process, two of which being Erik Erikson and Lawrence Kohlberg. They both left a hand print on the large and expanding wall of psychology; however they dabbled in very different aspects of development. Their similarities and differences aid in the determination of which gave more to the field of developmental psychology and in doing so gave more to the institution of psychology as a whole.
Erikson was particularly interested in the stages of life and what mental, emotional, and physical developments occurred within these age brackets. He outlined a series of developmental “tasks” or a developmental agenda that is followed by all humans throughout the life cycle. Tasks are in sequential order and each task builds on the one preceding. For example, an adolescent who fails to establish a solid identity will not be able to move on to healthy intimacy.
The stages outlined by Erikson start with Trust vs. Mistrust, which is mostly dictated by the quality of relationship between the mother and infant. If the child allows their mother out of sight without becoming upset, the child displays trust. The next task is Autonomy vs. Shame. This stage consists of the child learning independence or feeling doubtful of their abilities. An example of autonomy within this stage would be the child saying “no” to virtually everything in an attempt to make their own choices. The next stage, Initiative vs. Guilt, is similar to the previous. It is characterized by the child attempting to formulate and carry out plans or feel guilty for trying to establish independence. Erikson’s next step, Industry...


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...omplished candidate. While morality plays an important part in day-to-day life, it is a small footnote in the large spectrum of developmental psychology. Erikson did a greater service to the field because he developed a more in-depth, thought out, relevant theory. His theory also has more uses than Kohlberg’s. Erikson’s theory can be applied to parenting, counseling, education and more.
Of course, both psychologists have shaped the modern view of development greatly and they both deserve the utmost respect for their accomplishments and achievements within the field of developmental psychology. Their work has helped educate people worldwide on the necessity of basic trust, a sense of identity, and morality. Many psychologists before them emphasized the need for work and love, but Erikson and Kohlberg delved deeper and showed people why they are the way they are.

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