Jane Loevinger's stages of ego development are best described as climbing a set of steps that lead up a mountain, with each step allowing a person to get a better perspective and see more of the world. Loevinger proposes nine stages of ego development occurring throughout a person's life.
Loevinger's nine stages begin with the presocial stage. This is an ego-less stage in which the child is only concerned with satisfying needs. Next is the impulsive stage, during which the child has a focus on his own impulses. In the self-protective stage, the child begins to understand reward and punishment and uses this knowledge to control his impulses.
As the child spends more time with his peers he enters the conformist stage, during which behavior is guided by the need to fit in. As the child grows older he enters the self-aware stage. As the child becomes more self-aware, he understands that there are multiple ways to view situations. This is a transition into the conscientious stage, in which the individual develops his own standards for his behavior and for the world.
As a person enters adulthood he begins the individualistic stage. He begins to develop his life on his own and further develop his own standards as separate from his peer group. This transitions into the autonomous stage, during which the individual learns how to handle inner conflict and respect other people's differences. The final stage is the integrated stage, during which the person actually begins to value differences in others.