The Theory of Psychosocial Development: (Erikson, 1968)
- states that the individual develops through a series of stages from birth to death. There are 8 stages of social development. In each stage there exists a conflict/battle that must be internally fought.
- The 5th stage deals with adolescence, as it is the stage of identity crisis marked by rapid growth and hormonal changes (ages 12-18)
~ These body changes can be confusing as the adolescent has to search for a new sense of continuity and question sexuality, future occupation, etc. This is called moratorium (time to experience different possibilities)
~ If the identity crisis is solved successfully, the adolescent will feel confident about his or her own identity and future.
~If the identity crisis is not solved successfully, the adolescent may join a subgroup and develop a negative or socially unacceptable identity.
- Espin et al (1990) supports Erikson's theory. The researchers performed a content analysis of 71 letters from a Latin-American girl, whose parents had been arrested, to her teacher over a period of nine years, between the ages of 13 and 22. Themes of identity appeared in the earlier letters, and increased from the ages of 13 to 18 years, but then declined. This confirms that issues of identity were prominent in this period, as predicted by Erikson.
- Rutter et al. (1976) challenged Erickson's theory. Aim was to investigate the concept of developmental crisis in a representative sample of adolescents. All adolescents on the Isle of Wight aged between 14 and 15 participated in the study. Data was collected with questionnaires and interviews from parents, teachers, and the adolescents. Only a minority (1/5) of the adolescents showed signs of crisis or conflict with parents and this was mostly related to psychiatric problems. This is not in line with predictions of the theory of psychosocial development.
- Evaluation of the theory: the theory is Western biased, the stage theory is based on the assumption that development is universal and sequential