Erikson’s Stages of Development

Erikson's Stages of Development

Erikson’s Stages of Development

A Closer Look at the Eight Psychosocial Stages

A leading and important theory of development was created by ego psychologist Erik Erikson. Erikson’s theory focused more on psychosocial than psychosexual development, despite the influence of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud’s work Erikson’s Stages of Development.

The stages that make up his theory are as follows:

Let’s examine Erikson’s psychosocial theory’s history and many phases in more detail.

Overview of Erikson’s Stages of Development

What precisely did Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development include, then? Erikson shared Sigmund Freud’s belief that personality changes throughout time Erikson’s Stages of Development.

Erikson’s theory, however, addressed the effects of social experience throughout the entire lifespan, in contrast to Freud’s conception of psychosexual phases. Erikson was interested in the function that social ties and interaction had in the maturation and growth of people.

Conflict During Each Stage

According to Erikson’s theory, each stage builds on the ones that came before it and prepares the way for the phases of growth that follow. Erikson thought that at each stage, humans go through a conflict that marks a turning point in their growth Erikson’s Stages of Development.

People leave the stage with psychological strengths that will benefit them for the rest of their lives if they are able to resolve the issue. They might not acquire the critical abilities required for a strong sense of self if they are unable to resolve these conflicts successfully.

Mastery Leads to Ego Strength

Erikson also held the view that behaviours and activities are motivated by a sense of competence. Erikson’s theory has stages that each focus on developing competence in a certain aspect of life.

The person will experience a sense of mastery, also known as ego strength or ego quality, if the stage is managed properly. Poor stage management will leave the person feeling insufficient in that area of development as they exit the stage Erikson’s Stages of Development.

Psychosocial Stages: A Summary Chart
AgeConflictImportant EventsOutcome
Infancy (birth to 18 months)Trust vs. Mistrust FeedingHope
Early Childhood (2 to 3 years)Autonomy vs. Shame and DoubtToilet TrainingWill
Preschool (3 to 5 years)Initiative vs. GuiltExplorationPurpose
School Age (6 to 11 years)Industry vs. InferioritySchoolConfidence
Adolescence (12 to 18 years)Identity vs. Role ConfusionSocial RelationshipsFidelity
Young Adulthood (19 to 40 years)Intimacy vs. IsolationRelationshipsLove
Middle Adulthood (40 to 65 years)Generativity vs. StagnationWork and ParenthoodCare
Maturity (65 to death)Ego Integrity vs. DespairReflection on LifeWisdom

A brief summary of the eight stages

Stage 1: Trust vs. Mistrust

The most fundamental period of life is represented by the first stage in Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, which takes place between birth and one year of age. Because a baby is completely dependent, the dependability and calibre of the child’s carers are the foundation for building trust.

The kid is completely dependent on adult carers during this stage of development for all they require to exist, including food, love, warmth, safety, and nurture. A youngster will learn that they cannot rely on or trust the adults in their lives if a carer does not provide them enough attention and love Erikson’s Stages of Development.


A youngster will feel safe and secure in the world if they are able to properly create trust. Children who are under the care of carers may feel distrusted if they are inconsistent, emotionally unavailable, or rejecting. Lack of trust will lead to fear and the conviction that life is unpredictable and inconsistent.

No child will ever feel 100% certain or 100% uncertain. Erikson thought that achieving a balance between the two conflicting sides was the key to effective development. Children then develop hope, which Erikson defined as an openness to experience tempered by a certain level of caution that danger may be there.

Later studies by experts like John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth showed how crucial trust is in developing secure bonds in both childhood and adulthood.

Stage 2: Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt

Early childhood is the time period for the second stage of Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, which focuses on kids gaining more self-control.

The Role of Independence

Children are just beginning to get a little independence at this stage of development. They are beginning to take simple behaviours on their own and acquire straightforward preferences. Parents and other adults who care for children can support children’s feeling of autonomy by giving them the freedom to choose and take charge.

Potty Training

The main idea of this stage is that kids need to gain a sense of independence and personal control over their physical abilities. The development of this sense of independence in youngsters is greatly assisted by potty training.

Erikson shared Freud’s view that toilet training was a crucial step in this process. However, Erikson’s justification was very dissimilar from Freud’s. According to Erikson, gaining mastery over one’s physical functions promotes independence and a sense of control. Gaining more control over food preferences, toy preferences, and dress choices are further significant occurrences.


Children who struggle and are humiliated for their mistakes could lose their sense of self-control. During this phase of mental development, accomplishment leads to sentiments of autonomy; failure, feelings of guilt and uncertainty.

Finding Balance

Children who pass this stage successfully feel secure and confident, while those who fail are left feeling inadequate and self-conscious. Erikson held the view that children may behave with intention, within reason and boundaries, if they have found a balance between autonomy and guilt and uncertainty.

Stage 3: Initiative vs. Guilt

Preschool years are when the third stage of psychosocial development occurs. Children start to exert their power and control over the world at this stage of their psychological development through controlling play and other social interactions.

Children that succeed at this stage believe they are capable of leading others. People who lack these abilities experience remorse, self-doubt, and a lack of initiative.


The third stage of psychosocial development’s main topic is that kids need to start establishing their authority over their surroundings. A sense of purpose results from success in this stage. Children who try to exercise too much control get criticism, which causes them to feel guilty.

Stage 4: Industry vs. Inferiority

The fourth psychosocial stage occurs between the ages of five and eleven, during the early years of school. Children start to feel proud of their accomplishments and skills through social interactions.

Children must adjust to changing social and academic expectations. Failure causes emotions of inferiority, whereas success fosters a sense of competence.


Children who receive praise and encouragement from their parents and teachers grow to feel competent and confident in their abilities. Those who receive little to no support from their parents, instructors, or classmates will have doubts about their capacity for success.

Stage 5: Identity vs. Confusion

The sometimes difficult teenage years are when the fifth psychological stage occurs. This stage is crucial for the formation of a sense of personal identity that will affect a person’s behaviour and development for the rest of their life. Teenagers need to establish their individual identities and sense of self. Success fosters the capacity to be loyal to oneself, whereas failure fosters role uncertainty and a frail sense of identity.

Children explore their independence and grow in self-awareness during adolescence. Through personal discovery, those who are properly encouraged and reinforced will leave this stage with a strong sense of self, as well as sentiments of independence and power.

What Is Identity?

When psychologists discuss identity, they mean all of the precepts, ideals, and principles that influence and direct a person’s conduct. Success in this stage results in fidelity, which Erikson defined as the capacity to adhere to social norms and expectations.

Erikson stressed the importance of the development of ego identity, but he also thought that each stage of psychological development was significant. The conscious sense of self that we acquire from social contact is known as our ego identity, and it becomes a major topic of discussion when we reach the identity versus confusion stage of psychological development.

Erikson claimed that as a result of the fresh experiences and knowledge we pick up through our regular encounters with other people, our ego identity is continually changing. We face difficulties as we gain new experiences, which can either aid or hinder the evolution of our identities.

Why Identity Is Important

Each of us has a consistent, comprehensive sense of who we are thanks to our unique identities. As we age, our actions, ideas, and behaviours are influenced by our sense of personal identity, which is developed by our experiences and relationships with others.

Stage 6: Intimacy vs. Isolation

Young adults must develop close, enduring relationships with others. Success produces strong relationships, whilst failure produces isolation and loneliness. This era includes the early adult years when people are figuring out their personal relationships.

Erikson thought it was essential for humans to form committed, deep relationships with other people. Those that are successful at this stage will establish bonds that are solid and long-lasting.

Building On Earlier Stages

Keep in mind that each stage builds on the abilities acquired in earlier steps. Erikson thought that establishing close relationships required a strong sense of one’s own identity. According to studies, those who have a low sense of self are more prone to struggle with emotional loneliness, depression, and uncommitted relationships.

Stage 7: Generativity vs. Stagnation

Adults must produce or nurture things that will endure after they are gone, frequently by bearing children or bringing about a beneficial change for others. Success produces a sense of purpose and accomplishment, whereas failure produces a meagre sense of engagement with the outside world.

We continue to create our lives as adults, putting a priority on our families and careers. Those who are successful throughout this stage will feel that by participating in their home and community that they are making a difference in the world. Those who are unable to develop this talent will feel unproductive and disengaged from society.

Stage 8: Integrity vs. Despair

The final psychological stage, which takes place in old age, is concerned with looking back on life. People at this stage of development reflect on their lives and decide if they are content with them or whether they regret the things they did or did not do.

The way in which Erikson’s theory handled development over the lifetime, including old age, set it apart from many others. Older people need to reflect on their lives and experience a sense of fulfilment. At this point, success brings sentiments of wisdom, whereas failure brings feelings of regret, resentment, and hopelessness.

People take stock at this point in their lives as they look back on their experiences. People who reflect on a life they feel was well-lived will feel content and be prepared to face death with calm. Instead of feeling worry that their life may end without having accomplished the things they feel they should have, those who look back with only regret experience fear. ​


Those who fall short at this point may feel as though their life has been a waste and may harbour numerous regrets. The individual will have feelings of resentment and hopelessness.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Erikson’s Theory

Additionally, Erikson’s theory is subject to legitimate critique and has its drawbacks. What types of experiences are required to pass each stage successfully? How can someone advance to the next stage?


The fact that the precise processes for resolving conflicts and progressing from one stage to the next are not fully characterised or developed is one of the main weaknesses of psychosocial theory. The theory falls short of specifying precisely the kinds of experiences required at each step to successfully resolve the conflicts and advance to the following stage.


The fact that psychosocial theory offers a broad framework from which to view development across the entire lifespan is one of its advantages. Additionally, it enables us to emphasise the social aspect of people and the significance of social ties in shaping growth.

Erikson’s theories on identity have been supported by research, which has also led to the identification of many identity development substages. According to several studies, adolescents who have strong personal identities are better equipped to establish close connections in their early adult years. However, according to some studies, identity development and formation last long into adulthood.

Why Was Erikson’s Theory Important?

The notion was important since it considered a person’s growth not just during childhood but throughout their entire life. Additionally, it emphasised how crucial social connections are for influencing personality and growth at every stage of development.