Erikson’s Theory Of Psychosocial Stages Of Development

Erikson was a German- American psychologist of the 20th century. He became famous for his theory of psychosocial stages of development which he developed by modifying Freud’s theory of psychosexual development.

All humans, from being an infant till being a fully grown adult, undergo different stages of development. During each stage there is a crisis that is to be resolved which can have either a positive effect or a negative effect. These crises are considered to be having a psychosocial nature because they involve the psychosocial needs of an individual and the needs of a society.

There are 8 psychosocial stages of development through which one’s personality is formed. Erikson stated that successful completion of each of the development stages can result in a healthy and a competent personality. Failure to complete the tasks may lead people emerging with a sense of inadequacy in their development.  

Psychosocial Stages Of Development
Psychosocial Stages Of Development

1st Psychosocial Stage Of Development: Trust Vs. Mistrust

The first stage of psychosocial stages of development occurs from birth to one year or so. Infants are always looking towards their caretakers, whether they are parents or guardians, for support since they are not much aware of the world that surrounds them. If the infant is handled with care and love which is full of consistency and reliability, they develop a sense of trust; the infant twill see the world as a peaceful, predictable place. If handled harshly and not with consistent care, the infants develop a sense of mistrust. They might end up seeing the world with fear and anxiety. Success in this stage leads to a virtue of hope.

2nd Psychosocial Stage Of Development: Autonomy Vs. Shame

This stage lasts in toddles between the ages of 1 to 3.  This is the “I will do it myself” stage where toddlers tend to try to do everything their way by choosing themselves discovering autonomy and independent. Things like choosing which toys to play with or which clothes to want to wear. If such actions are encouraged, the children tend to be more confident and believe in their capabilities. But, if children are discouraged from taking such decisions, they tend to develop a sense of shame and low self-esteem. Success in this stage leads to a virtue of will.

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3rd Psychosocial Stage Of Development: Initiative Vs. Guilt

Once children are in pre-school (age of 3 to 5) this stages starts. They start initiating activities and assert to control things through social interactions. Children at this stage, make plans, play in groups etc. Erikson believed that pre-schools must solve the crisis that occurs in this stage since it creates a sense of purpose and responsibility. When parents allow their children freedom to explore the limits, a sense of self-confidence and purpose is developed. However, failure to complete the task, may lead children having a sense of guilt and a nuisance.

4th Psychosocial Stage Of Development: Industry Vs. Inferiority

At the age of 5 to 12 years, when children are in elementary schools, learning to read, write etc, the stage of Industry Vs. Inferiority occurs. Children tend to compare themselves to their peers since they are an important source of a child’s self-esteem. Either they develop a sense of pride and accomplished in their work and feel competent enough to reach their goals. Or they feel insecure or inadequate and may develop a sense of inferiority in their adolescence and doubt in their potentials.

5th Psychosocial Stage Of Development: Ego Identity Vs Role Confusion

This stage occurs in children at the ages of 12 to 18 when adolescents are mainly developing a sense of self. This is the stage where they explore different careers and relationships to figure out their very own identity. Children who are able to complete this stage successfully develop a strong sense of identity. While failure in this stage tend children to develop role confusion and they struggle to “find themselves” even as adults. Success in this stage leads to a virtue of fidelity.

6th Psychosocial Stage Of Development: Intimacy Vs. Isolation

This stage occurs in our young adulthood stages at the age of 20 to 40. After the development of sense of self we start to share ourselves intimately with others. If the completion of this stage is successful, we develop a sense of commitment and care. However, it is important to know that the development of the sense of self is important for the success of this stage. People who fail to develop a self-concept may not be successful in building healthy relationships and might develop feelings of loneliness and self-isolation.

7th Psychosocial Stage Of Development: Generativity Vs. Stagnation 

In the middle of adulthood, at ages of 40 to 65, this stage occurs. After establishing a career and building relationships, we start to give back to the society. Beginning families, raising children, being productive; everything involved in contributing to the society. Those who do not complete this task may feel stagnated, as though they haven’t left a mark on the world. They might have little connection with others and little interest in productivity.

8th Psychosocial Stage Of Development: Integrity Vs. Despair

The last stage of psychosocial stages of development occurs when we have become senior citizens at the ages of 65 and above. We slow down our productivity and just explore life. If the person sees their life as a successful one, they develop a sense of integrity for themselves. On the other hand, if the life is seen as unsuccessful then they develop a sense of despair, focusing on “should have” and develop dissatisfaction with themselves. Success in this stage leads to a virtue of wisdom.

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