Psychosocial Theory The Rationale for Emphasizing Psychosocial Theory • Addresses growth across the life span • Assumes that individuals have capacity to contribute to their own psychological development • Takes into consideration the active contribution of culture to individual growth Stages of Development The 11 Stages of the Lifespan Basic Concepts of Psychosocial Theory • Psychosocial evolution – Proposed by Julian Huxley – Range of abilities that allows us to gather knowledge from our ancestors and transmit it to our descendants – E.g. child care, education, modes of communication Basic Concepts of Psychosocial Theory • Six basic concepts – Stages of development – Developmental tasks – Psychosocial crisis – The central process for resolving the psychosocial crisis at each stage – A radiating network of significant relationships – Coping behavior Stages of Development • Erikson proposed eight stages of development – A period of life that is characterized by a specific underlying organization • These stages follow the epigenetic principle – Biological plan for growth allows each function to emerge systematically until the individual has fully developed • The themes of earlier stages may reemerge at any point Psychosocial Crises • Psychosocial crises – State of tension that results from discrepancies between the person’s competences at the beginning of the stage and society’s expectations • From these conflicts, new social capabilities are produced Psychosocial Crises of the Life Stages • Most people experience both positive and negative elements of the continuum – Contributes to the person’s adaptive capacities • Outcome of the crisis is integration of the two opposing forces • Succession of crises occurs in a predictable sequence – Epigenetic principle Psychosocial Crises • What is the purpose in conceptualizing life in terms of crises? Developmental Tasks • Havighurst’s concept of developmental tasks – Process by which humans learn tasks required by society to which they are adapting • Society has age-graded expectations – Tasks change with age Developmental Tasks • Sensitive periods – Periods of development when an individual is most ready to acquire a new ability – Teachable moments • Developmental tasks may reflect gains in physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development Developmental Tasks Associated with the Life Stages Developmental Tasks Associated with the Life Stages Developmental Tasks • Describe a developmental task that may have changed in content from the time of your grandparents to your time – What are some of these changes? – What led to the changes? The Central Processes for Resolving the Psychosocial Crises • Psychosocial crisis – Reflects discrepancy between developmental competencies at the beginning of a stage and new societal pressures • Central process – Suggests a way that the person takes in cultural expectations and changes self-concept • Example: Imitation in toddlerhood The Central Process for Resolving Each Psychosocial Crisis Radius of Significant Relationships • Age-related demands on individuals are communicated through significant relationships • Over the lifespan, the radius of the circle expands – In adulthood, the radius condenses to a few significant relationships Coping • Refers to people’s conscious, adaptive efforts to manage: – Stressful events – Emotions associated with the stressors • Begins with appraisal • Results in prime adaptive ego qualities or core pathologies Prime Adaptive Ego Qualities Core Pathologies Evaluation of Psychosocial Theory • Strengths – Highlights social nature of human development – Provides broad, integrative context • Weaknesses – Explanations of the mechanisms are not well developed – Number of stages and links to biological based development Evaluation of Psychosocial Theory A Recap of Psychosocial Theory • Which phenomena is the theory trying to explain? • What assumptions does the theory make? • What does the theory predict? The Six Basic Concepts of Psychosocial Theory The Mechanisms for Positive and Negative Psychosocial Development Your Perspective • Consider the radius of significant relationships • Where do you fall on the radius in terms of your connections with others? • What interconnections are there between these radii at this point of your life? Case Study – Erik Erikson • Reflections – Why did Erikson feel like a “stranger in his own culture?” – What are the biological, psychological, and societal factors that contributed to Erikson’s identity crises? – What factors from childhood appear to be influencing Erikson’s experiences as an adolescent? Case Study – Erik Erikson • Reflections – Who are the significant figures in Erikson’s life/the radius of significant others? – What factors might have contributed to Erikson’s ability to cope with the challenges of this period of his life, eventually finding a direction and meaning to which he could commit his talent and energy? Case Study – Erik Erikson • Reflections – Based on Erikson’s account of his childhood and adolescence, how might his life experiences and his cultural context have influenced the nature and focus of his psychosocial theory?