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Developmental Theorists Our personality traits come in opposites We think of ourselves as optimistic or pessimistic independent or dependent emotional or unemotional adventurous or cautious leader or follower aggressive or passive Many of these are inborn temperament traits but other characteristics such as feeling either competent or inferior appear to be learned based on the challenges and support we receive in growing up The nature of psychosocial development The theorist that most attracts me and who did a great deal to explore this concept is Erik Erikson Although Freud influenced him he believed that the ego exists from birth and that behavior is not totally defensive Based in part on his study of Sioux Indians on a reservation Erikson became aware of the massive influence of culture on behavior and placed more emphasis on the external world such as depression and wars He felt the course of development is determined by the interaction of the body genetic biological programming mind psychological and cultural ethos influences He organized life into eight stages that extend from birth to death many developmental theories only cover childhood Later after his death in 1994 his wife published his theory about a ninth stage in very old age Vander Zanden 2003 Since adulthood covers a span of many years Erikson divided the stages of adulthood into the experiences of young adults adulthood late adulthood and very old age Vander Zanden 2003 While the actual ages may vary considerably from one stage to another the ages seem to be appropriate for the majority of people Eriksons basic philosophy might be said to rest on two major themes 1 the world gets bigger as we go along and 2 failure is cumulative While the first point is fairly obvious we might take exception to the last True in many cases an individual who has to deal with horrendous circumstances as a child may be unable to negotiated
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