The Influence of Erik Erikson on Positive Psychology Theory and Research

Chapter

Abstract

Highlighting major themes and concepts from Erik Erikson’s (Erikson, Identity and the Life Cycle, 1959) psychosocial theory of personality development, this chapter will explore the influence of his theories and research on key concepts in the discipline of positive psychology (PP). Using the three pillars of PP (Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi, American Psychologist 55:5–14, 2000): character strengths/virtues, subjective experiences, and positive institutions as a framework, the authors will discuss core PP concepts in the context of normative development through his major contributions to the field (Young Man Luther; Insight and Responsibility; Identity: Youth and Crisis; Gandhi’s Truth). Highlighting the role of developmental stress in facilitating growth and building character strengths (what Erikson termed “basic strengths”), this chapter will explore the role of positive institutions in nurturing the development of these strengths and unique contributions of Erikson’s work in advancing PP. This chapter will also address the relative lack of awareness and attention to Erikson’s influence within the field and highlight how PP can draw on the themes found throughout his work to improve theory and research with diverse populations.

Keywords

Positive psychology Identity Personality theory Erik Erikson Sexual orientation 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Westminster CollegeColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Social Science Department, New York City College of TechnologyCity University of New York (City Tech, CUNY)BrooklynUSA

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