Mead’s 3 Stage Role-Taking Process – Learn Sociology (2023)

Originally published at Sociology in Focus on Jan. 11, 2016

Have you ever tried playing a game with a six-year-old? How did it go? Was it frustrating? In this post, Stephanie Medley-Rath explains why playing a game with a six-year-old might be just a bit frustrating.

(Video) George Herbert Mead's Stages of Self

George Herbert Mead suggested that the self develops through a three-stage role-taking process. These stages include the preparatory stage, play stage, and game stage.

Stage 1: The Preparatory Stage

The first stage is the preparatory stage. The preparatory stage lasts from the time we are born until we are about age two. In this stage, children mimic those around them. This is why parents of young children typically do not want you to use foul language around them. If your two-year-old can “read,” what he or she has most likely done is memorized the book that had been read to him or her. In the video,Will Ferrell Meets His Landlord, Ferrell’s landlord is played by Adam McKay’s two-year-old daughter. She uses quite foul language and carries a beer. Does she have any idea understanding of what she is saying or doing? No. She is mimicking. She is in the preparatory stage. If she had been an older child, the skit would cease to have any humor. It works because she doesn’t understand the meaning behind her words, actions, or tone of voice.

(Video) Mead: Stages of the Self =)

Stage 2: The Play Stage

From about age two to six, children are in the play stage. During the play stage, children play pretend and do not adhere to the rules in organized games like soccer or freeze tag. Have you ever played a game with children of this age? It is far easier to just go with any “rules” they come up with during the course of the game than trying to enforce any “rules” upon them. I played many neverending games of Uno when my daughter was in this stage. I still do not actually know the rules of Uno as we have yet to play the game while adhering to them. During this stage, children play pretend as the significant other. This means that when they play house, they are literally pretending to be the mommy or the daddy that they know.

Stage 3: The Game Stage

The third stage is the game stage, which is from about age seven onwards. In this stage, children can begin to understand and adhere to the rules of games. They can begin to play more formalized games because they begin to understand other people’s perspective–or the perspective of the generalized other. In this stage, when children play pretend, they may still play house but are pretending to a mommy or a daddy independent of the one that resides in their home. The generalized otherrefers to the viewpoint of the social group at large. The child begins taking this perspective into account during this stage.

(Video) Sociology week 6 lecture 5 George Herbert Mead

When my daughter was six, she played in a soccer league for 6- to 8-year-olds. While physically, these children might be comparable and all are better able to recognize their own physical strength, these children were also in different developmental stages. The difference between the 6-year-olds and 8-year-olds in their play was telling. My daughter along with the other 6-year-olds was easily distracted. They were happy when they should have been frustrated or angry. For example, they were so excited when their own goalie stopped as many as 12 goals during a quarter. The fact that the goalie had to stop this many goals due to the lack of defensive skills and focus from the defenders was lost on them. This fact, however, was not lost on the 8-year-olds. One of the 8-year-olds yelled more than the coach. She knew where everyone was supposed to be on the field and what they were supposed to be doing. For her, the game was frustrating. She knew the rules and could adhere to them but could not understand why the six-year-olds could not. The children were in different stages of development.

Understanding the stage in which a child is in can help us better interact with them and know what is a reasonable expectation to have of them. For parents, it can help them to determine which fights are worth having with their child and which ones are not.

(Video) George Herbert Mead- The I and the Me | Individuals and Society | MCAT | Khan Academy

Dig Deeper:

  1. Describe an experience from your childhood that illustrates one of Mead’s three stages of role-taking. Explain your answer.
  2. Go to a toy store. Identify one toy that would be appropriate for a child in each of Mead’s stages. Explain why that toy would be appropriate based on their stage of development.
  3. Watch a television show that has children in the preparatory stage, play stage, or game stage. Which stage is the child in? Is the child portrayed in a way that adheres to the stage in which they are in according to Mead? Explain.
  4. Explain how knowing the different stages in the role-taking process might be important to your future career.


What are the three stages of Mead's role taking theory? ›

George Herbert Mead suggested that the self develops through a three-stage role-taking process. These stages include the preparatory stage, play stage, and game stage.

What is Mead's concept of role taking? ›

According to Mead, self appears as individuals take the role of others toward their own gestures. In two investi- gations, the hand movements of subjects were observed as they verbalized different commands specifying hand or head movement to another person.

How did Mead think we learn to take role of the others? ›

Mead's (1934). main emphasis was on children's playing, which he saw as central to their understanding of how people should interact. When they play, Mead said, children take the role of the other. This means they pretend to be other people in their play and in so doing learn what these other people expect of them.

What are the 3 stages of development process? ›

Innovation process: The product development process can be broadly navigated in three stages: Ideation, Feasibility, and Capability.

What are the three stages approach? ›

Clara E. Hill demonstrates her three-stage model of helping clients. This three-stage approach involves exploration, insight, and action. The exploration stage is based on client-centered theory, and aims to help clients explore their thoughts and feelings.

What is an example of role-taking in sociology? ›

For example, a person takes two roles such as moderator and participant at the same time. In the first situation, he or she structures the participants' discussion and therefore should take a neutral position. In the second role, he or she provides his or her own input and argues for his or her own opinion.

What does Mead's term role-taking mean quizlet? ›

Role Taking. assuming the viewpoint of another and using,that viewpoint to shape the self-concept. Imitation Stage. mead's 1st stage in the development of role taking: children begin to imitate behaviors without understanding why.

What is the meaning of role-taking? ›

looking at a situation from the viewpoint of another person, typically for the purpose of understanding his or her thoughts and actions. Development of role-taking skills is considered an important step in the development of social cognition. The term is synonymous with perspective taking.

What is an example of Mead's theory? ›

Mead uses the example of a dogfight to exemplify what he means by the conversation of gestures. The act of a dog snarling at another dog calls out for a response from the other dog to, for example, snarl back or retreat.

What is Stage 3 of group development? ›

Norming. Once a group receives the clarity that it so desperately needs, it can move on to the third stage of group development, known as the norming stage — where the group becomes a cohesive unit.

What are the components of the 3 stage model? ›

Lewin's change model is a simple and easy-to-understand framework to humanize the change management process. These three distinct stages of change (unfreeze, change, and refreeze) allow you to plan & implement the required change.

What are the 3 stages of conflict? ›

William Ury uses a similar three step model to identify the stages through which a conflict evolves in The Third Side. Ury's stages include: latent tensions, overt conflict, and power struggle.

What are the three stages of society? ›

Comte suggested that all societies have three basic stages: theological, metaphysical, and scientific. Finally, Comte believed in positivism, the perspective that societies are based on scientific laws and principles, and therefore the best way to study society is to use the scientific method.

What are some examples of role-taking? ›

An example of this is that of a person joining his/her first job. Quite naturally, the person wants to succeed and assumes that the role being given has to be taken and performed.

What is role learning theory in sociology? ›

Role learning theory assumes that people define roles, and then expect themselves and others to behave accordingly. Everyone in society fits into certain roles—from taxi drivers, priests, and teachers to professional athletes and mothers.

What are the three types of social roles? ›

In sociology, there are different categories of social roles: cultural roles: roles given by culture (e.g. priest) social differentiation: e.g. teacher, taxi driver. situation-specific roles: e.g. eye witness.

What are Mead's theories? ›

Mead's Theory of Social Behaviorism

Sociologist George Herbert Mead believed that people develop self-images through interactions with other people. He argued that the self, which is the part of a person's personality consisting of self-awareness and self-image, is a product of social experience.

What is Mead's play stage? ›

According to Mead, the play stage is the phase in which children start to take on and act out roles during their playtime. It begins at about age three as a transition from the preparatory stage. At this stage, children can typically only take on one role at a time.


1. George Herbert Mead's Social Self
(Cheryl Neely)
2. Understanding The Self: George Herbert Mead, The Social Self
3. SOC215 Role Taking Versus Role Making
(James Gramlich)
4. Socialization and Mead's Theory of Self
5. SOC215 The Socialization Process and Role Taking
(James Gramlich)
6. Introduction to Sociology: George Herbert Mead: The I and the Me
(Brooke Miller)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Msgr. Benton Quitzon

Last Updated: 02/27/2023

Views: 5640

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (63 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Msgr. Benton Quitzon

Birthday: 2001-08-13

Address: 96487 Kris Cliff, Teresiafurt, WI 95201

Phone: +9418513585781

Job: Senior Designer

Hobby: Calligraphy, Rowing, Vacation, Geocaching, Web surfing, Electronics, Electronics

Introduction: My name is Msgr. Benton Quitzon, I am a comfortable, charming, thankful, happy, adventurous, handsome, precious person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.