Psychosocial Development by Erikson

Erikson asserts that personality changes in phases or in a sequential order. Compared to Sigmund's idea of psychosexual phases, this differs in some ways. Erikson's theory also describes how social knowledge affects us throughout our complete lives. Notably, the development of ego identification is one of the first principles of Erikson's psychological stages. To start, ego identity refers to the concrete sense of self that we typically develop through social interactions and expands as a result of the new knowledge and experiences we gain throughout the course of a day. He also believed that, in addition to ego identification, an intellect of proficiency stimulates actions and behaviors. As will be described below, Erikson's theory of psychological development has eight stages. According to Erikson, this stage occurs between the birth and one year of age. It is considered one of the most critical stage in the life of every person. Throughout this phase, an infant is entirely in need of help. Therefore, the growth of trust is mainly built on the quality of the baby’s caregivers. If the child develops trust, it is apparent he or she will feel safe and protected in the world. However, if the child’s caregiver is emotionally unavailable or inconsistent, then the case may be different since it may contribute to mistrust in the kids they care for. Due to such instances, the baby may fail to develop trust hence resulting to fear (Newman & Newman, 2016). For example, a caregiver stops feeding the baby once he or she is full or through eating. Another example includes when the caregiver gives the baby an appropriate food when he or she shows hunger cues.

Stage 2 (Toddlerhood): Autonomy versus Doubt/Shame

This is the second phase of Erikson’s’ psychological development which occurs in the early childhood of a kid (one to three years old). Moreover, this stage is concentrated on the development of a greater sense of individual control. For instance, toilet training is one of the few things children get trained about in this stage since it is a vital process in the child’s life. By Erikson’s thoughts, learning to control another person’s body functions leading to a sense of independence and a feeling of control. Notably, kids who pass this stage usually feel confident and secure whereas kids who fail are left with a sense of uncertainty and inadequacy (Shaffer, 2009).

Stage 3: Initiative versus Guilt (Preschool Years)

This third stage of Erikson takes place in the early preschool years of a child’s life (three to six years). During this period, the child begins to assert power and control over their daily chores and the world. The child begins to direct play and other social interaction activities such as playing games and communicating with others. If the child finishes this stage fruitfully, they will feel proficient and capable of leading others to be it in school or at home during their social activities. However, those who fail to pass this stage will be left behind hence feel guilty and in self-doubt (Shaffer & Kipp, 2010). For instance, the child is provided with child-sized utensils so that he or she can quickly develop skills for serving themselves and feeding or the child is scolded for not cleaning or washing their plates.

Stage 4 (Elementary School): Competency versus Inferiority

The fourth phase covers the early school ages of a child, that is between 5 – 11 years. At this juncture, through social interactions, the kid starts to acquire a sense of superiority in their accomplishments and abilities. Besides, those who are cheered and commended by teacher and patents begin to gain the feeling of proficiency and belief in their skills. Nevertheless, those who get little or no motivation will be in doubt of their capabilities hence feel discouraged. For example, a child helping in the setting schedule for mealtimes or kids are required to clean their plates after every meal (Scheck, 2014).

Stage 5 (Adolescence): Identity versus Confusion

At the age of 11 to 18 years, children begin to explore their individuality and grow a sense of self. For those who get proper reinforcement and encourage through personal assessment will come out from this stage with a stout sense of self as well as individuality and control. For example, the body starts going through some transformations (Harmening, 2010). For the boys, their chest starts broadening while for the ladies their breasts start enlarging. However, for those who remain uncertain of their desires and beliefs will remain jumbled about their desires and expectations. For example, due to these changes, they may feel rejected especially if they are ridiculed for their physical changes that are occurring in their bodies.

Stage 6: Intimacy versus Isolation (Young Adulthood)

This stage occurs between 18 to 40 years when we begin to explore personal relationships. According to Erikson, it is the stage where people should grow close and dedicated relationships with others. For those who get fruitful during this stage will develop strong and secure relations with others hence committed such as get into a relationship with the opposite gender (courting). Moreover, studies have revealed that those who have a poor sense of self normally tend to have less loving relationships hence probable to suffer emotionally, depression or loneliness, for instance, they distance themselves from getting into courtships (Scheck, 2014).

Stage 7 (Middle Adulthood): Generativity versus Stagnation

The seventh stage occurs between 30 to 65 years. At this stage, we try to build our careers and focus on our families. Those who complete this stage successfully tend to feel they have contributed back to the society by being active in their community as well as homes. However, those who fail to pass this stage end and feeling uninvolved and unproductive in the community. For example, during this stage in our lives, we do establish our careers and begin our families. Moreover, we tend to give back to the society by being productive at workplace and being involved in the societal activities (Harmening, 2010).

Stage 8 (Late Adulthood): Integrity versus Despair

This is the eighth and last stage of Erikson’s psychological development theory. It happens to people above 50 years plus since it involves reflecting back on life. Notably, for individuals who fail this stage frequently feel that they have wasted their lives hence regrets a lot. On the other hand, those who successfully pass the stage feel proud of themselves due to their achievements thus feel a sense of integrity.

In conclusion, Erikson’s psychological development theory has both educational complications depending on age group. This theory has both strengths and weakness. For instance, through this theory, one can be able to build self-awareness hence improving oneself. Besides, it can help you appreciate a person’s learning by his or her differences. On the other hand, this theory has not been able to be tested scientifically since it is impossible to measure someone concepts. The theory has also focused only on competing forces instead of emotional development of a person. Therefore, this theory has its implications which are dependent on one’s age group.


Newman, B. M., & Newman, P. R. (2016). Development through life: A psychosocial approach.

Shaffer, D. R. (2009). Social and personality development.

Shaffer, D. R., & Kipp, K. (2010). Developmental psychology: Childhood and adolescence. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Scheck, S. (2014). The Stages of Psychosocial Development According to Erik H. Erikson. München: GRIN Verlag GmbH.

Harmening, W. M. (2010). The criminal triad: Psychosocial development of the criminal personality type. Springfield, Ill: Charles C Thomas.

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