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Compare Two Different Theories in Developmental Psychology (Research Paper Sample)


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The two theories that could be compared are: Piaget’s Cognitive Developmental Theory and Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory. The theories pertain to the course - Developmental Psychology 323.


Compare Two Different Theories in Developmental Psychology
Date of Submission
Development psychology refers to a scientific approach aiming at explaining how adults and children change over time. A considerable proportion of theories in this discipline focus on childhood development since it is during this period, in a person's life, when most changes happen. It is critical that the main goals of development psychology are to optimize, describe, and explain development. Additionally, development psychology did not exist before the industrial revolution, but it emerged when the need for an educated workforce arose. Consequently, psychologists such as Jean Piaget and Erik Erikson examined the topic. This paper analyzes, compares, and contrasts Erikson and Piaget's developmental theories.
Piaget's Cognitive Developmental Theory
Piaget identified four stages: sensorimotor, formal operational, preoperational, and concrete operational. The first stage, sensorimotor, starts after birth and continues until the child is between 18 months and 2-years. The stage involves usage of motor activity without using symbols (McLeod, 2015). Children in this age bracket cannot predict reaction. Therefore, they keep on experimenting and learning through trial and error. Their cognitive development increases with their increase in mobility. The preoperational stage or the second stage occurs between two and seven years (Wood, Smith & Grossniklaus, 2001). Children in this stage begin to use language, develop their memory, and imagination. They also employ make believe and gain the ability to express and understand relationships between the future and the past (Keenan and Evans, 2009).
The third stage, the concrete operational stage, occurs between the age of seven and eleven. During this stage, intellectual development is portrayed through systematic and logical manipulation of symbols that are related to concrete objects (McLeod, 2015). The child's thinking becomes less egocentric by increasing awareness of external occurrences. Finally, the period from adolescence to adulthood is referred to as the formal operational stage. Adults and adolescents use symbols relating to abstract concepts. People in this stage can think of multiple things in systematic ways, think about abstract concepts and relationships and can formulate hypotheses. Piaget believed that developing intellectually was a lifelong process (McLeod, 2015). However, he thought that when one attained formal operational thought, there was no need for new structures.
Studies on Piaget's Theory
Piaget's Cognitive development theory influenced educators and researchers like Mukunthan (2014). Consequently, the author conducted a study on children from Sri Lanka between the ages of four and eight. The research problem in this study is to understand the applicability of conception among children on concepts of ‘space' and ‘conservation' as presented in Piaget's theory (Mukunthan, 2014). The study used tests with children aged between four and eight while observing their performances in order to achieve the study's objectives. It is notable that the fact that the study was an observation study implies that the study participants were not presented with any research tools. Additionally, the study uses an effective and appropriate research design (observational study design) because the researcher wanted to establish whether Piaget's theory applies to children from different backgrounds.
The results from this study reveal that there is no significant difference between the researcher's findings and Piaget's findings on the conception of children of the concepts mentioned above. (Mukunthan, 2014). However, children in estates had a higher conception of both space and conservation concepts. Finally, these findings also s...
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