Erikson Home Page*Summary Chart*Introductionto Stages*Biography*References & Other Links

Erik Erikson's 8 Stages of PsychosocialDevelopment

Critiques & Controversies of Erikson

Much research has been done on Erikson's ideas and theories. "It hasbeen proven difficult to create objectives to evaluate Erikson's identitytheory. Not only do many different threads enter into the process ofestablishing an identity, but each person must create a unique synthesis of allthe disparate parts" (Marcia,1980; Waterman, 1985).

According to Cole and Cole (1989),one of Erikson's favorite methods for testing his theory is the biographicalcase study, using such famous men as Martin Luther and Mahatma Gandhi. It canbe time consuming, expensive and difficult to apply these methods to anindividual experiencing role confusion.

Many questions have been raised referring to Erikson's belief of identityformation. What about those adults who rediscover themselves and develop adifferent understanding of their lives due to life's changes and experiences? Is it possible for an individual to change throughout life? Other theories ondevelopment lean toward the individual having psychological developmentcompleted at much earlier ages.

Another controversial aspect of Erikson's work is his agreement with Freudthat personality differences between sexes are biologically based, originatingin the possession or lack of a penis. Erikson based his conclusion on researchwith children in a study in which boys and girls from age 10 to 12 constructedvarious scenes with toy figures and wooden blocks.

Critics of Erikson's theory say that his theory is more applicable to boysthan to girls, and that more attention is paid to infancy and childhood than toadult life, despite the claim to be a life-span theory. However, many have foundErikson's theory offers a useful framework for analyzing developmentalhistories.

BiographySummary Chart
Introduction to StagesErikson home page