Toward a cultural-developmental stage theory of the life course
In developmental psychology, the second half of the 20th century was a time of grand stage theories. Theorists of the era were inspired by the power of the stage theory to illuminate patterns of development across the life span and to generate insights about the distinctive characteristics of different life stages. Most notably, Erik Erikson (1950) presented the first theory of the life course from birth to old age in his magnum opus Childhood and Society. Daniel Levinson and his colleagues proposed a stage theory of adult development, with periods of stability alternating with periods of upheaval and transition (Levinson, 1978). Stage theories were also proposed for specific areas of development. Jean Piaget described stages of cognitive development and moral development (Piaget, 1955; Piaget & Inhelder, 1969). Laurence Kohlberg developed his stage theory of moral development in the course of his dissertation research in the 1950s (Kohlberg, 1958), and it quickly became the reigning paradigm in the area. Kohlberg’s theory of moral development inspired related stage theories in areas such as religious development (Fowler, 1981) and political development (Adelson, 1971, 1991).
Experience and Development: A Festschrift in Honor of Sandra Wood Scarr
Arnett, Jeffrey Jensen and Tanner, Jennifer Lynn, "Toward a cultural-developmental stage theory of the life course" (2012). Psychology. 721.