Erikson’s Stages of Development

November 11, 2016


There are eight stages of psychosocial development according to Erik Erikson’s theory.


Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud’s work influenced Erikson to create a theory focusing on the psychosocial development than the psychosexual development.


In his theory, he stated that there are three aspects of identity. These are the ego identity (focuses on yourself), personal identity (personal development that distinguishes you from others) and social/cultural identity (social roles a person may portray).


Erikson believes that every person will pass through a series of stages in his entire life. He stated that there are different factors such as nature, family and society that affect ones personality. These stages are:


Trust vs. Mistrust – Hope

INFANCY: Birth to 18 months


This is the most important period in one’s life. In this stage, the infant is being nurtured and taken care of by their mother and father. This will let the child develop trust, security and hope. If the child fails to experience this, the child will have insecurities, negativity and mistrust.

Significant Event: Feeding


Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt – Will

EARLY CHILDHOOD: 2 to 3 years


According to Erikson, this is the stage where the child develops to have self-control. The child develops the sense of independence and wants to control over a lot of things. They become very selective. They also develop the will to know what’s right from wrong. The child develops confidence if they experience this but those who don’t will have self-doubt.

Significant Event: Toy selection


Initiative vs. Guilt – Purpose

PRESCHOOLER: 3 to 5 years


During this stage, the child begins to go out and explore on their own and give more control with the choices they make. They start to plan activities and accomplish tasks. It is important that the guardians encourage them to explore. A child who is successful in this stage will have a sense of purpose however those who fail will lead to sense of guilt.

The family is the most important relationship in this stage.

Significant Event: Play


Industry vs. Inferiority – Competency

SCHOOL AGE: 6 to 11 years


This stage is where the school and social communication give important roles. The child goes to school and will be exposed to a new social environment and academic matters. The child meets friends and classmates who will determine the progress of the child in this stage. The child becomes more capable in completing a complex task and master a new ability. Guardians are encourage to give praises or commend the child’s success. This will let the child feel good and develop a sense of competence and confidence. But those who don’t will feel inferior and self-doubt.

Significant Event: School


Identity vs. Role Confusion – Fidelity

ADOLESCENT: 12 to 18 years


In this 5th stage of development, the person’s development depends on what he/she is doing. Teenagers develop the sense of self and tends to have an idea of what one’s role is. A teen will have to discover his or her identity during this stage. Friends or peers will have a significant role. Those who are successful in this stage will be able to know who he or she is unfortunately for those who don’t may lead to role confusion.

Significant Event: Going out with friends or peers


Intimacy vs. Isolation – Love

YOUNG ADULT: 18 to 40 years


Camaraderie and personal relationship take place in this stage. The person seeks intimate relationship and begin to have healthy and closer groups. Some may start to settle down, others may not. Success in this stage leads to a strong relationship while those who don’t experience loneliness.

Significant Event: Dating


Generativity vs. Stagnation – Care

ADULTHOOD: 40 to 65 years


In this stage, big responsibilities take place thus the adult must learn how to take control. The adult will be more concerned on how they can leave a mark on this world. A family and a great career is two of the most essential things an adult should have in this stage. Successful adults will feel accomplished, being cared while those who fail will feel stagnant and unprogressive.

Significant Event: Work and Parenthood


Ego Integrity vs. Despair – Wisdom



In the last stage of Erikson’s theory, a person will reflect on his or her life. He or She will question oneself if they have really lived their life to the fullest. Successful adults will feel wisdom, satisfaction and integrity. Those who failed will feel regret and despair.


Erikson’s theory gives us a framework of the development of our lifespan. It allows us to give importance of social relationship in one’s life. Erikson’s theory left an important shift in the thinking on personality.



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