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Compare and contrast between Erikson s Psychological theory and Bronfenbrenner s Ecological theory

Compare and contrast between Erikson s Psychological theory and Bronfenbrenner s Ecological theory.


Erikson s Psychological theory

Erikson believed that personality evolves through eight stages of psychosocial development, from infancy to adulthood, in a predetermined sequence. The individual encounters a psychosocial crisis during each stage which could have a direct or indirect effect for the development of the personality. For Erikson, these crises are of a psychosocial type as they include human (i.e., psycho) psychological needs that clash with the needs of society (i.e., social). As per the theory, timely achievement of each stage results in the development of essential virtues and a balanced personality (Syed, & McLean, 2017). Basic virtues are essential qualities that can be used by the ego to overcome subsequent crises. Failing to achieve a stage successfully may result in a decreased ability to accomplish further stage and thus a more dysfunctional attitude and sense of identity. However, these phases can be successfully overcome at a later date. Psychology has re-conceptualized the way the later stages of life are perceived, based on Erikson 's theories. Since of Erikson, middle and late adulthood are no longer seen as insignificant, they are now seen to be active and important periods of personal development. The theory of Erikson has strong facial validity. Most people feel that, from their own observations, they can relate to his ideas about various phases of the life cycle. But Erikson's about the causes of creation is quite ambiguous (Kerpelman, & Pittman, 2018). What kinds of interactions do people need to effectively overcome various psychosocial problems and pass from one point to the next. The theory lacks a universal mechanism to overcome crises. Nevertheless, Erikson (1964) admits that his theory is more of a concise description of human social and emotional growth that does not fully clarify how or why this evolution takes place. For example, Erikson does not clarify clearly how personality at a later stage is affected by the effect of one psychosocial process. Erikson emphasized, however, that his research was a 'method to think with, rather than a quantitative analysis.' His aim then was to provide a context through which technology could be viewed rather than evaluated. One of the strengths of Erikson's theory is his ability to tie essential psychosocial growth together over the entire lifespan (Syed, & McLean, 2016).


Bronfenbrenner s Ecological theory.

Bronfenbrenner argued that everything in their immediate atmosphere influenced a person's growth. He divided the world of the individual into five distinct levels: microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem, and chronosystem. This theory looks at the development of the child and within scope of the relationship structure which shapes its environment (Tudge, & Rosa, 2019). The Bronfenbrenner theory describes complex environmental "layers," each having an effect on the development of a child. Recently this theory has been renamed "bioecological systems theory" to emphasize that the biology of a child's own is a primary environment that fuel its growth. The involvement of influences in the progressing biology of the infant, its immediate family / community setting, and the societal landscape fuels and guides its growth (Perron, 2017). Changes or disputes will spill all over other layers in any one layer. Bronfenbrenner sees the uncertainty and unpredictability of family life that we have allowed to build our culture as the most damaging force for the growth of a child (Addison, 1992). Children may not have the constant mutual contact with important adults needed for development. If the interactions in the specific microsystem break down, the child does not have the resources to explore other areas of his world according to the ecological theory (Eriksson, Ghazinour, & Hammarström, 2018). In irrational ways, children search for the confirmations which should be present throughout the child / parent (or child / other significant adult) relationship seek attention.


Similarities between the two theories

Both of the theories that is Erikson s Psychological theory and Bronfenbrenner s Ecological theory deals with the developmental stages in the chid. The theories believed that it is necessary for a child development to build a primary relationship with someone who can help the child in influence the essential virtues and a balanced personality. The stages in the Erikson theory and the distinct level of the atmosphere in the Bronfenbrenner s Ecological theory defines that the initial ages of the child life have to be fostered by an adult who can give good values to the child. Although Schools and teachers fulfil an important secondary role, but cannot provide the complexity of interaction that can be provided by primary adults (Bugajska, 2017). Both the theories have discussed about the phycological crisis a child can go in the various stages of the development. The psychological needs can get clash with the needs of society, so the educational community can play a very important and  a primary role is to help our society continue its denial of the real issue. Failing to achieve a stage from the Erikson s Psychological theory successfully may result in a decreased ability to accomplish further stage and thus a more dysfunctional attitude and sense of identity. Same thing was explained in the Bronfenbrenner s Ecological theory that the complex environmental "layers," have a effect on the development of a child (Robinson, Demetre, & Litman, 2017). Any kind of changes or problems in the layers defined in the theory will spill all over other layers and will effect the child directly. Bronfenbrenner and Erikson s theories agree that we should foster societal attitudes that value work done on behalf of children at all levels: parents, teachers, extended family, mentors, work supervisors, legislators.




Robinson, O. C., Demetre, J. D., & Litman, J. A. (2017). Adult life stage and crisis as predictors of curiosity and authenticity: Testing inferences from Erikson’s lifespan theory. International Journal of Behavioral Development41(3), 426-431.

Bugajska, B. E. (2017). The ninth stage in the cycle of life–reflections on EH Erikson's theory. Ageing & Society37(6), 1095-1110.

Syed, M., & McLean, K. C. (2017). Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development.

Syed, M., & McLean, K. C. (2016). Understanding identity integration: Theoretical, methodological, and applied issues. Journal of adolescence47, 109-118.

Kerpelman, J. L., & Pittman, J. F. (2018). Erikson and the relational context of identity: Strengthening connections with attachment theory. Identity18(4), 306-314.

Tudge, J., & Rosa, E. M. (2019). Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Theory. The Encyclopedia of Child and Adolescent Development, 1-11.

Perron, N. C. (2017). Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory. College student development: Applying theory to practice on the diverse campus197.

Eriksson, M., Ghazinour, M., & Hammarström, A. (2018). Different uses of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory in public mental health research: what is their value for guiding public mental health policy and practice?. Social Theory & Health16(4), 414-433.








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