Robert Kegan was born in 1946 and was raised in Minnesota. Kegan attended Dartmouth College and was involved in the racially motivated protests during the 1960’s. He graduated from Dartmouth and was drafted into the Vietnam War soon after. By choosing to teach instead of enlisting, Kegan learned that he had a gift and passion for education. During his teaching experience, Kegan realized that he was fascinated with how children learned and developed. In order to explore the minds of children further, Kegan chose to enroll in Harvard as a doctoral student. He pursued a degree in education and psychology and graduated in 1976. Since his graduation, Kegan has been actively involved in the child development field. He is a Fellow at numerous universities and organizations, and has received many awards in recognition of his achievements. He has published dozens of articles and several books, including:
Kegan is a professor at Harvard University, chairs the Institute for Management and Leadership in Education, and is involved in many leadership programs, including one sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation.
Contribution to Psychology
Kegan’s Constructive Development Theory suggests that individuals develop in six stages as outlined in his book The Evolving Self. The six stages identified by Kegan are:
Kegan believes that each stage revolves around and is shaped by the preceding stage. For instance, the incorporative stage is based on an individual’s reflexes and instinctive reactions. The next stage, impulsive, is formed by the perceptions and manifestations of reflexes. These perceptions and manifestations, also termed impulses, become the object of the following stage, imperial. As the stages progress, development continues through desires that lead to relationships, which lead to identity. Ultimately, the final stage of inter-individuality is formed based on the identity discovered in the previous stage of institutionalism.
Each stage of development occurs at different ages beginning in infancy. This forms the basis for Kegan’s belief that development continues well beyond childhood and early adulthood. Kegan continues to examine how psychological changes take place throughout one’s life and how the overall psychological development of an individual is molded by external influences, careers, relationships, and choices. His work is used in business, leadership training, and adult education, where everyone, from business owners to college students, can become students of human development.
Last Update: 04-13-2012