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- Main article: Developmental stages
One of the major controversies in developmental psychology centres around whether development is continuous or discontinous. Stage theories of development rest on the assumption that development is a discontinuous process involving distinct stages which are characterised by qualitative differences in behaviour . Stage theories can be contrasted with continuous theories, which posit that development is a incremental process .
There are many stage theories in developmental psychology including:
- Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development described how children represent and reason about the world
- Michael Commons' Model of Hierarchical Complexity.
- Erik Erikson's stages of psychosocial development expanded on Freud's psychosexual stages, he defined eight stages that describe how individuals relate to their social world 
- James W. Fowler's stages of faith development theory.
- Sigmund Freud's Psychosexual stages described the progression of an individual's unconscious desires.
- Lawrence Kohlberg's stages of moral development described how individuals developed moral reasoning.
- Jane Loevinger, Stages of ego development.
- Margaret Mahler's psychoanalytic developmental theory contained three phases regarding the child's object relations.
- James Marcia's theory of identity achievement and four identity statuses .
- Maria Montessori's sensitive periods of development.
- Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
- Clare W. Graves' Emergent Cyclic Levels of Existence Theory.
While some of these theories focus primarily on the healthy development of children, others propose stages that are characterized by a maturity rarely reached before old age.
- White, F., Hayes, B., & Livesey, D. (2005). Developmental Psychology: From Infancy to Adulthood. NSW:Pearson Education Australia
- Kohlberg, L. (1987). The measurement of moral judgement.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Maslow, A.H. (1987). Motivation and personality (3rd ed.), New York: Harper & Row.
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