Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work




Child development, Children -- Growth



Physical Description

1 online Resource (v, 106 leaves)


In this study concepts from Erikson’s widely cited theory of child development were operationally defined and empirically tested. The purposes of the study were: (1) to ascertain whether a set of social workers with an understanding of Eriksonian theory could use it in a meaningful way to observe pre-school children; (2) to ascertain whether the theory could be used to differentiate between culturally advantaged, culturally deprived, and, as emerged in the analysis, handicapped children; (3) to ascertain whether the theory could be used diagnostically to obtain information about a child’s developmental level or problem area. In the fall of 1966 six paired observers using a schedule of traits relating to Eriksonian concepts of developmental stages studied a class of 21 pre-school children enrolled in an enrichment program. The children were observed in their activities, data compared with that from case records and from parent interviews and analyzed on the basis of three categories of children—culturally deprived, culturally advantaged, or handicapped – seven children in each. Pre-tests led to a 37 item schedule, each item scored on a 100-point scale. Items consisted both of specific behavioral questions and of global questions calling for clinical judgment. Tests were based on the means of paired observations. Based on statistical inference the following findings were accepted: (l) Positive global items were inversely related to negative global items for stages children had passed through. Only positive global items were used for statistical purposes. (2) For the global items, a significant relationship emerged between direct observations and case records, but not between observations and parent interviews, nor between case records and parent interviews. (3) Although records correlated with observations, records were too incomplete to be useful for study purposes. (4) Intra-pair reliability of observers only approached significance. (5) Inter-pair reliability of observers was significant. (6) A significant relationship was found between observers' global items and observers' selected items but not between observers' global items and parents' global items. (7) Observers' global items tended to support the proposition that a child must resolve the earlier stages before subsequent stages can be resolved, but observers' selected items and parents’ global items did not. 8) Age and developmental level were related for both deprived and handicapped children, but not for advantaged children. (9) Deprived and advantaged children were significantly differentiated from the handicapped children, but not from each other. (10) Diagnostic distinctions between individual children appeared which were related to children's developmental levels and/or problem areas, but not in a clear and systematic way. Findings tended to support Eriksonian theory, but further refinements and related research are indicated.


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Portland State College. School of Social Work

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