Both are theories on adult development and how and when people change from one stage of life to another. But the theories differ on when these life stages occur and what confronts and is important to the individual at each stage in their lives.
Erikson's theory divides a persons adult development into eight stages of life. Which are as follows;
- Trust Vs Mistrust = Infant
- Autonomy Vs Shame and Doubt = Toddler
- Initiative Vs Guilt = Preschool
- Industry Vs Inferiority = Schoolchild
- Identity Vs Role confusion = Adolescent
- Intimacy Vs Isolation = Young Adult
- Generativity Vs Stagnation = Middle Adult
- Integrity Vs Despair = Late adult
Erikson's theory incorporated social and cultural aspects into Freud's biological and sexually oriented theory. The theory frequently refers to a psychosocial crisis within the individual. Each stage encompasses a conflict between the two emotional forces in which the individual tries to achieve a healthy balance between the two.
Whereas Levinson's theory does not place as much significance on conflict but instead the construction and formation of a "dream" within the individuals life, as well as forming mentor relationships, an occupation and forming a love relationship and family. Levinson defined the "dream" as the individuals sense of self in the world and is the core of the life structure. Levinson proposed that from the ages 22 - 28 young adults test a preliminary life structure that is composed of work, love and the ability and will to attain their "dream". The transition into middle adult then occurs between the ages of 28 - 33 years. Then individuals will re - evaluate the life structures that they have formed in this period to determine if they are achieving their "dream".