The development of an individual undergoes several stages of development, which change and replace one another respectively to the cognitive development of the individual. At the same time, the development of individual psychology and personality has been a subject to heat debates between specialists for a long time. In this regard, Piaget’s developmental theory played an extremely important role in the formation of views of scientists and researchers on the individual development. Piaget was one of the first scientists, who laid the foundation to the developmental theories. His theoretical assumptions contributed to the development of new developmental theories by such scientists as Kohlberg and Erikson. In this respect, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that Piaget’s developmental theory defined the framework of other developmental theories and helped the researchers to focus on key issues of the development of an individual. On the other hand, new developmental theories developed by scientists after Piaget brought in new ideas and theoretical concepts which expanded the developmental theory of Piaget and broadened the view of modern scientists on the personal development. In such a way, developmental theories developed by different researchers, such as Kohlberg and Erikson have a lot of similarities because they are grounded on key concepts developed by Piaget but, at the same time, they preserve certain differences because each researcher brings in his or her own new ideas and concepts to the developmental theory, which defined the essence of the development of individual based on the close interaction between cognitive, physical and emotional development of an individual.
Key concepts of theories
Piaget is one of the founding fathers of the developmental theory and his theoretical developments laid the foundation to the modern developmental theory. In such a context, key concepts of his theory are of the utmost importance for understanding of the contemporary developmental theories. In this regard, adaptation is one of the key theoretical concepts developed by Piaget. The adaptation implies adapting to the world through assimilation and accommodation (Atherton, 2010). In fact, the adaptation is a crucial theoretical concepts because it implies that each individual passes through different stages of the individual development that needs the adaptation of an individual to new changes and stages in his or her social environment as well as psychological and personal development of the individual. The adaptation involves the assimilation of an individual to his or her new environment and cognitive development and accommodation, which implies the development of new skills, abilities and models of behavior.
Furthermore, Piaget stresses the role of maturation (simply growing up) in children’s increasing capacity to understand their world: they cannot undertake certain tasks until they are psychologically mature enough to do so (Atherton, 2010). In actuality, this means that the maturation is crucial for the development of a child but the maturation occurs through learning how to perform different tasks and psychological development. In other words, the maturation occurs through the physical and psychological development of a child which also involves the cognitive development and their interaction leads to the steady maturation of an individual.
At the same time, Piaget argues that children’s thinking does not develop entirely smoothly: instead, there are certain points at which it “takes off” and moves into completely new areas and capabilities (Atherton, 2010). In fact, the cognitive development of children occurs through considerable changes which may occur unexpectedly to a child respectively to his or her environment and personal development. What is meant here is the fact that a child can reach certain point in his or her personal development, when he or she wants to change his or her habits and behavior, to try something new in his or her life. This is exactly where the acquisition of the new experience occurs.
Kohlberg worked on his developmental theory using Piaget’s theory as the basis on the ground of which he built up his own theory. He agreed with Piaget that the development of an individual passes through certain stages. At the same time, he argued that stages are not the product of maturation, i.e. the stage structures and sequences do not simply unfold according to a genetic blueprint (Bjorklund & Pellegrini, 2000). What is meant here is the fact that the development of a child does not occur on the ground of some genetic code as an inborn trait of an individual. Instead, the stage structures and sequences are determined by the moral and psychological development of an individual that means that if a person has not reached certain stage of the development than he or she has not elaborated certain models of behavior, emotional experience and moral norms and values.
At the same time, Kohlberg argues that socializing agents (e.g., parents and teachers) do not directly teach new forms of thinking (Bjorklund & Pellegrini, 2000). Kohlberg stands on the ground that the impact of external factors on the individual development should not be overestimated because parents, educators, peers and other socializing agents rather create conditions for learning new forms of thinking but it is up to an individual to learn new forms of thinking. In other words, learning new forms of thinking is internal rather than external process, in terms of Kohlberg’s theory.
In this regard, another key concept in Kohlberg’s theory is particularly important. To put it more precisely, he lays emphasis on the fact that the stages emerge, instead, from individual’s own thinking about moral problems (Bjorklund & Pellegrini, 2000). At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that Kolberg pays a particular attention to the moral development and solution of problems as a driving force of the personal development of an individual. This means that each individual solves his or her moral problems on his or her own and it is through the solution of these moral problems an individual grows mature and passes through different stages in his or her personal development.
Erikson carried on the work on the developmental theories started by his precursors, such as Piaget. At the same time, Erikson developed his own view on the development of an individual. At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that Erikson’s developmental theory implies the close interaction between internal and external world of an individual. In actuality, this means that an individual is vulnerable to the impact of his or her social environment as well as psychological and moral development of an individual. In this respect, it is particularly noteworthy to mention the fact that, according to Erikson the ego exists from birth and that behavior is not totally defensive (Zastrow and Kirst-Ashman, 2007). Ego is one of the key concepts in his developmental theory and it is through the development of an individual ego a person develops and progresses in psychological, physical and cognitive domains.
At the same time, the massive influence of culture on behavior and placed more emphasis on the external world, such as depression and wars (Zastrow and Kirst-Ashman, 2007). In such a way, Erikson inclines to the externalization of the process of the development of an individual. In such a way, the impact of external factors on the personal development is very significant to the extent that it can determine certain traits of character and models of behavior of an individual.
Eventually, Erikson lays emphasis on the fact that the course of development is determined by the interaction of the body (genetic biological programming), mind (psychological), and cultural (ethos) influences (Zastrow and Kirst-Ashman, 2007). In fact, this is the core concept of Erikson’s theory. Erikson stands on the ground that the individual development occurs through the interaction of numerous factors, the body, mind and cultural factors, which lead to the formation of an individual’s personality.
Major points of similarity
On analyzing theories developed by Piaget, Kohlberg and Erikson, it is possible to trace significant similarities between them. At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that similarities between the three theories are, to a significant extent, determined by the theoretical framework created by Piaget, which became the basis for later developmental theories. In fact, Piaget’s theoretical concepts became the core for later developmental theories. The development of individuals occur through stages of the personal development, which may vary depending on a theorist but, in principle, they imply that each individual passes through certain set of stages which are essential for the maturation of an individual and which all individuals pass through in the course of their life.
At the same time, the maturation proper is not the essence of the personal development. In fact, Piaget, Kohlberg and Erikson agree that the maturation does not define the development of children, instead they learn from the social experience, emotional development and so on. In this regard, it is necessary to take into consideration multiple factors that influence the personal development of individuals. These factors may vary depending on a theorist but all, Piaget, Kohlberg and Erikson agree that each individual passes through the stages of development, which they defined in their theory. The impact of social environment, moral development and psychological development of an individual led to the steady progress of an individual in his or her cognitive development.
On the other hand, all of the three scientists agree that the stage of the development is not linked to certain age strictly but, in each individual case, the development of an individual passes through each stages although the exact age at which an individual enters a stage may vary, for several months as a rule. What is meant here is the fact that an individual can enter a new stage in his or her personal development faster or sooner than others. The time, when an individual enters certain stage in his or her personal development, is defined by his or her cognitive development, social experience, moral development and other factors, which influence the development of an individual as defined by Piaget, Kohlberg and Erikson.
Major points of difference
In spite of numerous similarities between developmental theories of Piaget, Kohlberg and Erikson, they are still quite different because each scientist brought in some new ideas and theoretical concepts in his theory. In such a way, developmental theories kept progressing and accumulated new concepts and ideas. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the fact that Erikson, for instance, organized life into eight stages that extend from birth to death (many developmental theories only cover childhood) (Zastrow and Kirst-Ashman, 2007). Kohlberg had six stages of the personal development of an individual, whereas Piaget defined only three stages of the cognitive development. In fact, such a difference in the number of stages is the result of the overall progress of the developmental theory because Piaget was a pioneer in this field and his four stages were the basis for the further development of the developmental theory.
At the same time, stages of development differed not only in number but also in the essence and definition of each stage. In fact, stages of development are quite different in Kohlberg’s, Piaget’s, and Erikson’s theories. For instance, Kohlberg’s first three stages coincide with Piaget’s ones, whereas Erikson has eight stages which he prolongs to the adulthood. The description of each stage differs although some of them may have certain similarities with each other. Nevertheless, each stage and classification created by Piaget, Kohlberg and Erikson is unique.
Furthermore, the development of the child is determined by different factors. To put it more precisely, Erikson insists on the interaction between genetic biological programming, psychological development and cultural influences, whereas Kohlberg stresses the importance of moral development of a child and Piaget adds the impact of the social environment on children’s development. Nevertheless, whatever factors influence the personal development of an individual they are essential for the overall development of the individual.
The interaction of cognitive, physical and emotional development in the overall development of the child
In actuality, Piaget, Kohlberg and Erikson agree that the close interaction between cognitive, physical and emotional development is essential for the overall development of the child. Whatever the interactions are specifically like, they work best, Kohlberg says, when they are open and democratic (Bjorklund & Pellegrini, 2000). This idea can be traced in the work of Erikson, who argues that cultural influences should not oppress an individual and each individual process the information he or she perceives from the external world. However, the origin of this idea can be traced back in works of Piaget, who argued that each individual cannot reach a higher stage of development if he or she fails to reach the cognitive, physical and emotional development appropriate to this stage. The three scientists agree that it is through the interaction of physical, emotional and cognitive development individuals keep progressing and developing.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that the contribution of Piaget, Kohlberg and Erikson in the progress of the developmental theory can hardly be underestimated. Piaget, Kohlberg and Erikson created developmental theories which stand on the ground that the personal development of an individual passes through several stages, which may be clearly traced through the analysis of the physical, emotional and cognitive development of an individual. Stages of personal development may vary depending on the scientist but they are crucial for the overall development of the child because an individual passes through them entering new, more and more complicated stages of the development to the extent that Erikson extrapolates stages of development to the adulthood. In fact, Piaget, Kohlberg and Erikson made a significant impact on the modern developmental theory.