Comparing Piaget and Erikson Essay

Comparing Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development to

Erikson’s Stages of Social Development

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Child psychologist, Jean Piaget, believed that a

person understands whatever information fits into his

established view of the world. Piaget described four

stages of cognitive development and related them to

a person’s ability to understand.

The Sensorimotor Stage occurs from birth to 2

years. It is during this stage that the child

learns about his or herself and the environment

around them by use of motor and reflex actions.

The Preoperational Stage begins from about the

time the child starts to talk to about age 7. With

the child’s new knowledge of language, he is able

to begin using symbols to represent objects and

The Concrete Stage occurs from about first grade

to early adolescence. The child has now developed an

ability to make rational judgements. There is no

longer the need to live in a fantasy world as

The final stage in Piaget’s Cognitive Development is

the Formal Stage. There is no longer the need for

concrete objects to make rational judgements. He is

now capable of hypothetical and deductive reasoning.

Psychiatrist Erik Erikson believed that each

person had Eight Stages of Development. He called

them the “Eight Stages Of Man.” These stages were

formulated, not through experimenting, but through

wide ranging experience in psychotherapy.

Stage 1, Learning Basic Trust Versus Basic Mistrust,

is the period of infancy through the first one or

two years of life. A child, well handled, nurtured,

and loved, will develop trust and security. Badly

handled, the child becomes insecure and mistrustful.Stage 2, Learning Autonomy Versus Shame, occurs

between 18 months and 2 years. Autonomy is not,

however, entirely filled with self assurance,

initiative, and independence. For children in the

early part of this stage, there is a stormy self

will, tantrums, stubbornness and negativism.Stage 3, Learning Initiative Versus Guilt, occurs

from 3 1/2 years to 5 years. During this stage,

the healthily developing child learns to imagine, to

broaden skills through active play.

Stage 4, Industry Versus Inferiority, occurs from

5 years to 12 years of age. This stage has the

child mastering more formal skills of life, such as,

relating with peers according to rules, progressing

from free play to play that may consist of rules

and demand formal teamwork, and mastering reading,

mathematics and social studies.

Stage 5, Learning Identity Versus Identity

Diffusion, occurs from 13-14 years to 20 years of

age. Now an adolescent, the child learns how to

answer satisfactorily and happily the question of

“Who am I?” Most boys and girls experiment with

minor delinquency, rebellion, self doubts and so on.Stage 6, Learning Intimacy Versus Isolation,

occurs from 20-25 years of age. The successful young

adult, can for the first time, experience true

Stage 7, Learning Generativity Versus

Self-Absorption, occurs from 25-30. This stage has

the adult being very generative, both in marriage

Stage 8, Integrity Versus Despair, occurs from

30-40 years. He trusts, he is independent and he

dares the new. He is proud of what he creates- his

children, his work, or his hobbies.Piaget and Erikson have very different views on

the ways a child develops. Piaget’s first stage,

birth – 2 years, has the child imitating behavior,

exploring their own body and senses. He feels the

child, at age 0-4 months, has the basic “out of

sight, out of mind” attitude. Erikson, however, feels

that the child that is nurtured and loved, will

develop trust, security and optimism.

Piaget’s stages from 2 years to 4 years, have

the child living in a basic fantasy world. While

Erikson’s stage, at this same age, has the child

focused on himself. He is oriented to his parents

and needs limits, support, and secure environment.

Through ages 5-7 years, Piaget notes the same

behavior as when the child was 2-4 years, with the

added development of concrete mental operations.

Erikson notes that the child now identifies with

his/her own gender, enjoys group play and maintains

The 7-11 years, according to Piaget, are

Concrete Operation years. He begins to think

rationally and to generalize. Erikson shows his child

continuing his enjoyment in group play and in peer

relationships. He is often competitive, impressed by

older role models, learns behavior from parents,

The years of 12-16 for the Piaget child, show

him capable of cognitive problem solving and decision

making. Erikson’s child, during these same years, is

oriented to the present rather than the future. He

is preoccupied with self presentation, physical

maturity, and acceptance by peer group.

During the ages of 16-18 years, Piaget’s child

is capable of synthesizing a wide range rational

material. Erikson’s child is primarily concerned with

his individual identity, financial independence,

deepening relationships, self exploration, distancing

from family and making own decisions.

In conclusion, Piaget and Erikson see the

development of children in 2 very different ways.

Piaget believed that a person understood whatever

information fit into his established view of the

world. His stages were based on research, while

Erikson’s were based on experience. There are no

similarities in the stages of these 2 men. Erikson’s

stages lean more to the realistic side, in my

opinion. Life and experience was the best teacher in

Works Cited
North Central Regional Educational Laboratory
Program Implications Based on Children’s Cognitive
and Social Development
Encarta Encyclopedia 2000
Piaget’s Cognitive Stages
Encyclopedia Britannica CD ROM
Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development
Child Development Institute
Stages of Social Emotional Development In
Children and Teenagers
An article by Jim Anderson, SSP
The ABC Classroom: I am, I belong, I can

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