Ideas for family vacations on These begin with the denial stage, followed by the anger stage, bargaining stage, depression stage, and acceptance stage. The stages do not necessarily occur for a set period of time; moreover, they can recur and overlap before some degree of psychological and emotional resolution occurs. stage theory any hypothetical construct that attempts to describe phases, or steps, in a process that occurs over time. Examples in psychology abound, including Sigmund Freud’s stages of psychosexual development and Jean Piaget’s stages of cognitive development (see piagetian theory). See also stages of grief. staircase method a variation of the method of limits in which stimuli are presented in ascending and descending order. When the observer’s response changes, the direction of the stimulus sequence is reversed. Ideas for family vacations 2016.