Erikson’s 8 Stages Of Personality Development (A Comprehensive Guide) - PsychReel (2022)

In this brief guide, we will look at Erikson’s 8 stages of personality development, as well as some real life examples of the 8 stages in erikson’s psychosocial theory.

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Erikson’s 8 Stages of Personality Development

Erik Erikson’s 8 stages of personality is a psychosocial theory of personality development that takes the lifespan approach, that is, he considers personality as something that grows over time and changes according to the stages of life.

Erikson’s 8 Stages of personality development are:

  • Stage 1: Trust vs. Mistrust
  • Stage 2: Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt
  • Stage 3: Initiative vs. Guilt
  • Stage 4: Industry vs. Inferiority
  • Stage 5: Identity vs. Confusion
  • Stage 6: Intimacy vs. Isolation
  • Stage 7: Generativity vs. Stagnation
  • Stage 8: Integrity vs. Despair

Erikson says that these personality stages are dependent on the social context of the individual, and the person develops according to the challenges they face in each area and stage of life.

The reason this theory is called psychosocial is because it exists as an interplay of the social context and the person’s own psychological factors according to this theory in the development of personality.

Personality has been defined as a dynamic system, which means that it changes throughout our life and never stays the same, which fits perfectly into this personality theory.

Erikson also suggested that the developmental process was governed by what he called the epigenetic principle of maturation.

Each confrontation with our environment in every stage is called a crisis.

Each developmental stage has its particular crisis or turning point that necessitates some change in our behavior and personality.

We may respond to the crisis in one of the two ways: a maladaptive (negative) way or an adaptive (positive) way.

Only when one has resolved each conflict can the personality continue its normal developmental sequence and acquire the strength to confront the next stage’s crisis.

However, Erikson believed that ego must incorporate maladaptive as well as adaptive ways of coping.

Ideally, at every stage of development the ego will consist primarily of the positive or adaptive attitude but will be balanced by some portion of the negative attitude.

Only then can the crisis be considered satisfactorily resolved and Erikson also proposed that each of the eight stages provides an opportunity to develop basic strengths.

Erikson’s 8 stages of personality are complicated and he defines the key challenge in each one, as well as the age group in which it may be seen, and these details are discussed in the coming sections.

Erikson’s 8 Stages Of Personality Development (A Comprehensive Guide) - PsychReel (1)

Stage 1: Trust vs. Mistrust

The first stage in Erikson’s 8 stages is from the birth to 1 year of age, and it is known as trust vs mistrust.

The earliest basic trust is established during the oral-sensory stage (oral stage) and it may be demonstrated by the infant in its capacity to sleep peacefully, to take nourishment comfortably, and to excrete freely.

The Infant is totally dependent on the mother or primary caregiver for survival, security, and affection.

During this stage, the mouth is of vital importance, however, the infant’s relationship between the infant and his/her world is not exclusively biological, it is also social.

The baby’s interaction with the mother determines whether an attitude of trust or mistrust for future dealings with the environment will be incorporated into his/her personality.

According to this idea, if there is a sense of trust in the baby, due to the mother always being there, or feelings of calmness from the mother, having frequent feeding schedules and so on, there will be feelings of “Consistency, continuity, and sameness”.

On the other hand, a mother that is reproachful or perhaps does not attend to the baby as much, or has troubles of her own, may instill a sense of mistrust in the baby, which may lead to the feelings of “suspicious, fearful, and anxious”.

Stage 2: Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt

Stage 2 of Erikson’s 8 stages spans from the ages of 1-3 years, and it is also considered to be the anal-muscular stage or anal stage, where the child starts to learn what is expected of it, what its obligations and privileges are, and what limitations are placed upon it.

Children rapidly develop a variety of physical and mental abilities and are able to do many things for themselves, like communicate more effectively, to walk, climb, push, pull and hold on to an object or let it go.

Children take pride in all these skills and usually want to do as much as possible for themselves.

Of all these abilities that the child has picked up in this stage, Erikson believed the most important involved holding on and letting go.

According to Erikson, this stage marks the “Prototypes” for reacting to later conflicts in behaviors and attitudes, and he speaks particularly of “Autonomous will” which is relevant to self-expression.

The major crisis between parent and child at this stage typically involves toilet training (taught to “hold on” and “let go” only at appropriate times and places.)

Some parents may shame their children for spoiling their pants or for making a mess with their food, which may lead to feelings of shame.

Additionally, when parents thwart and frustrate their child’s attempt to exercise his or her independence, the child develops feelings of self- doubt and a sense of shame in dealing with others.

Ideally, children should develop a proper ratio between autonomy and shame and doubt.

Children who develop too little autonomy will have difficulties in subsequent stages, lacking basic strengths of later stages.

Stage 3: Initiative vs. Guilt

The third stage of the psychosocial theory of personality by Erikson is from the ages of 3-5 years, and it is considered as corresponding to the genital loco motor stage or phallic stage.

This is a stage of initiative, an age of expanding mastery and responsibility.

This so-called Initiative may also develop in the form of fantasies, manifested in the desire to possess the parent of the opposite sex and in rivalry with the parent of the same sex.

If parents punish the child and otherwise inhibit these displays of initiative, the child will develop persistent feelings of guilt; feelings that will affect self-directed activities throughout his/her life.

The danger of this stage is the feeling of guilt that may haunt the child for an overzealous contemplation of goals, including genital fantasies, and the use of aggressive, manipulative means of achieving these goals.

The child is eager to learn and learns well at this age; it strives to grow in the sense of obligations and performances.

The basic strength called purpose arises from initiative. Purpose involves the courage to envision and pursue goals.

Stage 4: Industry vs. Inferiority

Stage 4 of the Erikson’s 8 stages is the Industry vs Inferiority, and it goes from the ages of 6-11 years.

This is the fourth stage of the epigenetic process and it corresponds with the latency stage.

In this stage, the child must submit to controlling its exuberant imagination and settling down to formal education.

The child begins to go to school and is exposed to new social influences where they may develop a sense of industry and learn the rewards of perseverance and diligence.

The interest in toys and play is gradually superseded by an interest in productive situations and the implements and tools used for work.

The hazard of this stage is that the child may develop a sense of inferiority if he/she is unable to master the tasks that he/she undertakes or that are set for it by teachers or parents.

The virtue of competence emerges during the industry stage, in addition, according to Erikson’s ideas, this stage will also reflect of sex stereotypes where the boys may go into “boy games”, like building and knocking things down, while the girls might be more involved in playing “house”.

The outcome of the crisis at each of these four childhood stages depends on other people, and often the resolution is a function more of what is done to the child than of what the child can do for himself or herself.

Stage 5: Identity vs. Confusion

The 5th stage in the Erikson theory of personality development is Identity vs confusion and it goes from the ages of 12-18 years.

During adolescence the individual begins to sense a feeling of his/her own identity, a feeling that one is a unique human being yet prepared to fit into some meaningful role in society.

The person becomes aware of individual inherent characteristics, such as likes and dislikes, anticipated goals of the future, and the strength and purpose to control one’s own identity.

In this stage the locus of control develops, that perception that a person has regarding the possibility of dominating an event; whether control is inside or outside of oneself.

Erikson suggested that adolescence was a hiatus between childhood and adulthood, a necessary psychological moratorium to give the person time and energy to play different roles and live with different self-images.

People who emerge from this stage with a strong sense of self-identity are equipped to face adulthood with certainty and confidence.

Those who fail to achieve a cohesive identity, or people who experience an identity crisis, will exhibit a confusion of roles.

They may withdraw from the normal life sequence (education, job, marriage) as Erikson did for a time or seek a negative identity in harmful things like crime or drugs.

Stage 6: Intimacy vs. Isolation

The 6th stage in the psychosocial theory of personality development is from the ages of late adolescence-about 35 years.

Young adults are prepared and willing to unite their identity with others, and this is seen in the fact that they seek relationships of intimacy, partnership, and affiliations and are prepared to develop the necessary strengths to fulfil these commitments despite the sacrifices they may have to make.

Erikson’s views on this stage were not restricted to sexual relationships but also encompassed feelings of caring and commitment, these emotions could be displayed openly, without resorting to self-protective or defensive mechanisms and without fear of losing our sense of self-identity.

Stage 7: Generativity vs. Stagnation

Stage 7 of Erikson’s 8 stages of personality development goes from about 35-55 years, and this is the longest stage in the psychosocial theory of personality development.

This is a stage of maturity, that is, one in which a person needs to be actively involved in teaching and guiding the next generation.

The stage of generativity is characterized by the concern with what is generated-progeny, products, ideas, and so forth-and the establishment and setting forth of guidelines for upcoming generation.

When generativity is weak or not given expression, the personality regresses and takes on a sense of impoverishment and stagnation.

One need not be a parent to display generativity, nor does having children automatically satisfy this urge.

Stage 8: Integrity vs. Despair

The last stage in Erikson’s 8 stages is from late adulthood, about 60 years old, to old age/death.

The final stage of psychosocial development is marked by a confrontation with a choice between ego integrity and despair.

These attitudes govern the way we evaluate our life, and the person’s major endeavors are at or nearing completion, they examine and reflect on their life, taking its final measure.

When they look back with a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction, believing they have coped with life’s victories and failures, they are said to possess ego integrity.

Erikson’s 8 Stages Of Personality Development (A Comprehensive Guide) - PsychReel (2)

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we looked at Erikson’s 8 stages of personality development, as well as some real life examples of the 8 stages in Erikson’s psychosocial theory.

Erik Erikson’s psychosocial theory of personality development is considered to be one of the most influential theories of personality, given how detailed it makes the process of development and how much knowledge it provides the person about each stage.

These stages are more than just stages of personality development, they provide crucial knowledge about what the person needs to accomplish in every stage and what happens if they don’t.

If you have any questions or comments about Erikson’s 8 Stages of personality development, please feel free to reach out to us at any time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Erikson’s 8 Stages

Why is Erik Erikson Theory important?

Erik Erikson theory is important because it is a psychosocial theory and it provides a broad framework which allows us to gain a different perspective to development.

The Erik Erikson theory also allows us to emphasize the social nature of human beings and the importance of how much social relationships can change things for us.

What are the 7 stages of development?

Here are the 7 stages of development:

Prenatal Development.
Infancy and Toddlerhood.
Early Childhood.
Middle Childhood.
Adolescence.
Early Adulthood.
Middle Adulthood.
Late Adulthood.

Which of Erikson’s stages is the longest?

Stage 7 is the longest of Erikson’s stages, and it is so because it is considered to be the longest part of the individual’s life.

Stage 7, the longest stage, is the part when the individual is working and contributing to society in some way and most people also have and raise children in this stage.

Stage 7 may often be marked by problems if the person is not able to find proper ways to be productive during this period which is what leads to feelings of stagnation.

How do you remember Piaget’s stages?

To remember Piaget’s stages, you may use the mnemonic, “Some People Can Fly” each of these letters stands for one of Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development: sensorimotor, pre operational, concrete operational, and formal operational.

Citations

https://www.verywellmind.com/erik-eriksons-stages-of-psychosocial-development-2795740

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK556096/

Your feedback helps us improve the quality of these articles.

FAQs

What are the Erikson's 8 stages of personal development? ›

What is Erikson's theory of personality development? ›

His belief was that each human developed their own personality through a series of stages and these stages developed due to the social experiences that one experienced through life. According to Erikson, there are eight stages and each stage centers around a conflict that has to be resolved.

Which of Erikson's eight stages seems most important why? ›

Erikson believed that the trust vs mistrust stage is the most important period in a person's life because it shapes one's view of the world.

What are the 8 stages of life? ›

The 8 stages of life
  • Infancy.
  • Toddlerhood.
  • Preschool years.
  • Early school years.
  • Adolescence.
  • Young adulthood.
  • Middle adulthood.
  • Late adulthood.

What is an example of Erikson's theory in real life? ›

REAL-LIFE EXAMPLES OF ERIKSON THEORY AT WORK

And integrity is the key to trust. If your company claims to be green and to love the environment, for example, but your employees know you secretly dump waste into the ocean, they question your integrity. And that means they can't really trust you.

Why is Erik Erikson's theory important? ›

Why Was Erikson's Theory Important? The theory was significant because it addressed development throughout a person's life, not just during childhood. It also stressed the importance of social relationships in shaping personality and growth at each point in development.

What is the purpose of Erikson's theory? ›

In what became known as the eight stages of development theory, Erikson provided insights into both social and psychological development. The framework of his thinking assesses the context of relationships in your life at these life stages.

Why is Erik Erikson theory important in education? ›

Erikson's psychosocial theory is a very powerful way for building self-awareness and for improving oneself, as it helps to understand a persons learning according to his or her personal differences. Hence, it is an integral part of the academics because it helps in teaching and helping others.

What is the most important concept in the early adulthood stage according to Erikson? ›

Erikson (1950) believed that the main task of early adulthood is to establish intimate relationships and not feel isolated from others. Intimacy does not necessarily involve romance; it involves caring about another and sharing one's self without losing one's self.

What aspects of Erikson's theory are most important for parents to understand why? ›

Most recent answer

Erikson implies a number of conditions to be fulfilled by parents, like (1) a necessity to develop to meet the challenge of a new stage of a child (2) prepare conditions for making child at least "twice-born", (3) learn necessity to enable "moratorium" in development, etc.

How can you apply Erik Erikson's theories in the classroom? ›

How to Apply Psychosocial Development in the Classroom
  1. Create projects that allow children to take charge of their learning process. ...
  2. Give children many small choices within acceptable limits. ...
  3. Talk with a child privately about poor choices. ...
  4. Know the difference between misbehavior and an exploratory misfire.

How many stages are in Erikson's theory? ›

Psychologist Erik Erikson developed his eight stages of development to explain how people mature. The stages clarify the developmental challenges faced at various points in life. His theory is widely taught in developmental psychology courses in the United States.

What is Erikson's stage of development for adolescence? ›

Identity versus role confusion is the fifth stage of ego in psychologist Erik Erikson's theory of psychosocial development. This stage occurs during adolescence between the ages of approximately 12 and 18. During this stage, adolescents explore their independence and develop a sense of self.

Which stage of life is the most important? ›

The most important phase of life is the first few years when you are a child. That's when the brain grows really fast – faster than any other time in our life. The brain makes [more than 1 million] new connections every second!

What was Erikson's most important contribution to human development? ›

Erikson's best-known work is his theory that each stage of life is associated with a specific psychological struggle, a struggle that contributes to a major aspect of personality.

What is the main idea of the behavioral perspective on personality? ›

According to the behavioral perspective, the way we behave and learn can be explained through our interactions with the environment. Our actions are always responses to stimuli, which either occur naturally or because of a learned response.

Which is a good reason to learn about personality theories? ›

Personality theories provide a better environment where it is easier to understand human developmental concepts, which explain the various changes in individual behavioral changes.

What is psychosocial development examples? ›

Psychosocial development involves changes not only in children's overt behavior but also in their social cognition. For example, they become able to take the perspective of others and to understand that other people's behavior is based on their knowledge and desires.

What is psychosocial theory? ›

Abstract. Psychosocial theory explains changes in self-understanding, social relationships, and one's relationship to society from infancy through later life. Erik Erikson is the primary theorist identified with the development of psychosocial theory.

What is a psychosocial crisis according to Erikson? ›

Like Piaget, Erikson developed a theory of social development that relies on stages, except that Erikson thought of stages as a series of psychological or social (or psychosocial) crises —turning points in a person's relationships and feelings about themselves.

What is the conclusion of Erikson theory? ›

Everyone wants to achieve his/her basic needs in their life. Therefore Erickson concluded that human development progresses according to specific stages. He also states that each of those stages has crisis and those crisis must be dissolved before an individual can function successfully at the next stage.

What is the most important task of early adulthood? ›

Isolation: Erikson believed that the main task of early adulthood was to establish intimate relationships. Intimacy is emotional or psychological closeness and Erikson would describe as relationships that have honesty, closeness, and love.

What is Erikson's primary developmental conflict of early adulthood? ›

Stages
Approximate AgeVirtuesPsychosocial crisis
Middle Childhood 7–10 yearsCompetenceIndustry vs. Inferiority
Adolescence 11–19 yearsFidelityIdentity vs. Role Confusion
Early adulthood 20–44 yearsLoveIntimacy vs. Isolation
Middle Adulthood 45–64 yearsCareGenerativity vs. Stagnation
4 more rows

In which of Erikson's stages must a person establish a sense of self guidance and self starting? ›

Autonomy versus shame and doubt is the second stage of Erik Erikson's stages of psychosocial development. This stage occurs between the ages of 18 months to around age 2 or 3 years. According to Erikson, children at this stage are focused on developing a greater sense of self-control.

What aspects of Erikson's theory are most important for students to understand? ›

The key idea in Erikson's theory is that the individual faces a conflict at each stage, which may or may not be successfully resolved within that stage. For example, he called the first stage 'Trust vs Mistrust'. If the quality of care is good in infancy, the child learns to trust the world to meet her needs.

How are children motivated according to Erikson? ›

Initiative, a sense of ambition and responsibility, occurs when parents allow a child to explore within limits and then support the child's choice. These children tend to develop self-confidence and feel a sense of purpose.

Why was the quality of parent/child relationships so important to Erikson? ›

Erikson held that the "well-parented" child would weather the crisis of Independence vs. Shame to become confident and able. Kids who were discouraged or criticized for their early efforts to do things for themselves became very negative.

What approach would you use to motivate your students and why? ›

What approach would you use to motivate your students and why? By providing opportunities for children to experience success in their learning through the use of appropriately challenging work.

How many stages are there in Erik Erikson's theory? ›

Dr. Erikson, who died in 1994, theorized that personality is developed through eight different life stages, later called Erik Erikson's stages of psychosocial development. Knowing what each stage is—and the lesson at the heart of it—can provide helpful insight into your own personality, as well as others.

What is an example of identity vs role confusion? ›

An example of identity is a teenager who has adopted the identity of a gardener after exploring gardening interests. An example of role confusion is a teenager who has not committed to any particular identity and feels confused about their place in society.

What is Erikson's stage of psychosocial development in early childhood? ›

Erikson's third stage of psychosocial development occurs during preschool, between the ages of three and five years. At this point in our psychosocial development – when conflict occurs between initiative and guilt – we learn to assert ourselves and typically begin to direct play and social interactions.

What is Erikson's stage of development for adolescence? ›

Identity versus role confusion is the fifth stage of ego in psychologist Erik Erikson's theory of psychosocial development. This stage occurs during adolescence between the ages of approximately 12 and 18. During this stage, adolescents explore their independence and develop a sense of self.

Why Erikson's theory is important? ›

Why Was Erikson's Theory Important? The theory was significant because it addressed development throughout a person's life, not just during childhood. It also stressed the importance of social relationships in shaping personality and growth at each point in development.

Why is Erik Erikson theory important in education? ›

Erikson's psychosocial theory is a very powerful way for building self-awareness and for improving oneself, as it helps to understand a persons learning according to his or her personal differences. Hence, it is an integral part of the academics because it helps in teaching and helping others.

How can you apply Erik Erikson's theories in the classroom? ›

How to Apply Psychosocial Development in the Classroom
  1. Create projects that allow children to take charge of their learning process. ...
  2. Give children many small choices within acceptable limits. ...
  3. Talk with a child privately about poor choices. ...
  4. Know the difference between misbehavior and an exploratory misfire.

What causes identity crisis? ›

Many causes of identity crises are fairly common and include big life changes, stress, or general advancement through the different stages of life. Common causes of an identity crisis include: Occurrence of a traumatic event, like a motor vehicle accident or witnessing something violent.

What is an example of industry vs inferiority? ›

For example, being praised by your art teacher for the quality of artwork you create is a scenario that promote the feeling of industry. If a child fails to develop a sense of industry, they will feel a sense of inferiority in relation to his peers who have mastered this task.

What is Erikson's primary developmental conflict of middle adulthood? ›

Erikson stated that the primary psychosocial task of middle adult‐ hood—ages 45 to 65—is to develop generativity, or the desire to expand one's influence and commitment to family, society, and future generations. In other words, the middle adult is concerned with forming and guiding the next generation.

What is psychosocial development examples? ›

Psychosocial development involves changes not only in children's overt behavior but also in their social cognition. For example, they become able to take the perspective of others and to understand that other people's behavior is based on their knowledge and desires.

How is identity formed? ›

Identity formation and evolution are impacted by a variety of internal and external factors like society, family, loved ones, ethnicity, race, culture, location, opportunities, media, interests, appearance, self-expression and life experiences.

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