A comparison and contrast of Sigmund Freud’s psychosexual theory, Erik Erikson’s psychosocial theory and Jean Piaget’s cognitive theory

1. Introduction

The purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast three major child development theories using the block method as advanced by Sigmund Freud, Erik Erikson and Jean Piaget. The general background and premise of each theory will first be outlined, followed by a more detailed exploration of the unique contributions each theory makes to our understanding of child development. The implications of each theory for contemporary society will also be examined.

2. A comparison and contrast of Sigmund Freud’s psychosexual theory, Erik Erikson’s psychosocial theory and Jean Piaget’s cognitive theory

– General background and premise
Each of the three theorists named above has made a significant contribution to our understanding of child development. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was a Austrian neurologist who founded psychoanalysis, a clinical method for treating psychopathology through talk therapy (Boeree, 2006). Freud’s psychosexual theory posits that human personality develops through a series of stages in which different erogenous zones are focused on at different times (Boeree, 2006). Erik Erikson (1902-1994), a student of Freud’s, was a German-American developmental psychologist who built upon Freud’s work to develop his own psychosocial theory of human development (Boeree, 2006). Erikson believed that human personality develops in eight stages, with each stage characterized by a different crisis that must be resolved (Boeree, 2006). Jean Piaget (1896-1980), a Swiss developmental psychologist, is best known for his cognitive theory which posits that children think differently than adults and that their thinking progresses through four distinct stages (Boeree, 2006).

– Theories’ focus
Each of the three theories under consideration here focuses on different aspects of child development. Freud’s psychosexual theory focuses on the development of sexual identity, Erikson’s psychosocial theory focuses on the development of social identity and Piaget’s cognitive theory focuses on the development of intellectual abilities.

– Unique contributions
Each theorist also makes unique contributions to our understanding of child development. Freud’s contributions include his concepts of the id, ego and superego as well as his stages of psychosexual development. Erikson’s contributions include his concepts of trust vs. mistrust and identity vs. role confusion as well as his stages of psychosocial development. Piaget’s contributions include his concepts of schemas and stages of cognitive development.

– Implications
The implications of these theories are far-reaching and continue to be felt in contemporary society. Freud’s concept of the id, ego and superego has been influential in both psychology and popular culture. His stages of psychosexual development have also been influential in shaping our understanding of human sexuality. Erikson’s concepts of trust vs. mistrust and identity vs. role confusion continue to be relevant in our understanding of human socialization processes. His stages of psychosocial development provide a useful framework for understanding the challenges faced by people at different life stages. Piaget’s concepts of schemas and stages of cognitive development have been influential in education and continue to shape how we understand children’s intellectual abilities.

3. A more detailed look at each theory:

– Sigmund Freud’s psychosexual theory

Freud’s psychosexual theory posits that human personality develops through a series of stages in which different erogenous zones are focused on at different times (Boeree, 2006). The id, ego and superego are three important concepts in Freud’s theory. The id is the part of the personality that is driven by instinctual needs and desires, the ego is the part of the personality that mediates between the id and reality and the superego is the part of the personality that internalizes society’s values and ethical standards (Boeree, 2006). Freud’s stages of psychosexual development are: oral, anal, phallic, latent and genital. Each stage is characterized by a different crisis that must be resolved (Boeree, 2006).

– Erik Erikson’s psychosocial theory
Erikson’s psychosocial theory posits that human personality develops in eight stages, with each stage characterized by a different crisis that must be resolved (Boeree, 2006). The trust vs. mistrust stage is the first stage of development and occurs during infancy. During this stage, children learn to either trust or mistrust other people and the world around them. The autonomy vs. shame and doubt stage is the second stage of development and occurs during toddlerhood. During this stage, children learn to either feel autonomous or feel shame and doubt. The initiative vs. guilt stage is the third stage of development and occurs during preschool years. During this stage, children learn to either feel guilty or develop a sense of initiative. The industry vs. inferiority stage is the fourth stage of development and occurs during elementary school years. During this stage, children learn to either feel inferior or develop a sense of industry. The identity vs. role confusion stage is the fifth stage of development and occurs during adolescence. During this stage, children learn to either develop a sense of identity or feel confused about their role in life. The intimacy vs. isolation stage is the sixth stage of development and occurs during young adulthood. During this stage, young adults learn to either feel isolated or develop intimacy with others. The generativity vs. stagnation stage is the seventh stage of development and occurs during middle adulthood. During this stage, adults learn to either feel stagnant or develop a sense of generativity towards others. The ego integrity vs. despair stage is the eighth and final stage of development and occurs during late adulthood. During this stage, adults learn to either feel despair or develop a sense of ego integrity (Boeree, 2006).

– Jean Piaget’s cognitive theory
Piaget’s cognitive theory posits that children think differently than adults and that their thinking progresses through four distinct stages: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational and formal operational (Boeree, 2006). The sensorimotor stage is the first stage of cognitive development and occurs from birth to 2 years of age. During this stage, children learn about their world through their senses and motor abilities. The preoperational stage is the second stage of cognitive development and occurs from 2 to 7 years of age. During this stage, children begin to use symbols to represent objects in their environment but they have not yet developed logical thinking skills. The concrete operationalstage is the third stage of cognitive development and occurs from 7 to 11 years of age. During this stage, children develop logical thinking skills but they can only apply them to concrete objects and events. The formal operational stage is the fourth and final stage of cognitive development and occurs from 11 years of age onwards. During this stage, children develop abstract thinking skills and can apply them to hypothetical situations (Boeree, 2006).

4. Conclusion

In conclusion, the theories of Sigmund Freud, Erik Erikson and Jean Piaget continue to be influential in our understanding of child development. Each theorist makes unique contributions to our understanding of human personality, socialization and intellectual abilities. The implications of each theory are far-reaching and continue to be felt in contemporary society.

FAQ

The main difference between Piaget's and Vygotsky's theories of child development is that Piaget believed that children go through four distinct stages of cognitive development, while Vygotsky believed that cognitive development is a more gradual process.

Piaget's theory explains children's cognitive development by positing that they go through four distinct stages: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational. Vygotsky's theory, on the other hand, focuses on the role of culture and language in shaping children's cognition, and emphasizes the importance of social interaction in cognitive development.

The implications of these theories for educators are significant. Piaget's theory suggests that educators should focus on providing opportunities for students to progress through the different stages of cognitive development. Vygotsky's theory, meanwhile, highlights the importance of scaffolding learning experiences so that they are appropriate for each individual child's level of development.

In terms of their applicability to real-world situations, both theories have been found to be useful in understanding and predicting children's behavior. However, some researchers have criticized Piaget's theory for being too Eurocentric and not applicable to all cultures; meanwhile, others have argued that Vygotsky's theory does not adequately explain individual differences in cognitive development.

I think both theories are accurate in different ways; however, I believe Vygotsky's theory is more accurate overall because it takes into account a wider range of factors than Piaget's theory does