Erik Erikson and Psychosocial Development

Renowned psychologist Erik Erikson spent much of his life observing and theorizing the psychosocial development in humans. Erikson noted that a man, in order to fully develop his psychosocial behavior, should pass each of the eight stages of psychosocial development that runs from infancy to adulthood.

Erikson introduced each stage as a conflict between progress and stagnation. In every stage, a struggle occurs and as a person advances, the challenge gets bigger and more serious. Moreover, the conflicts that arise in Erickson’s eight stages of psychosocial development are somewhat life-shaping and could somehow spell the difference between success and failure.

Hence, the following is a detailed explanation of Erikson’s eight stages of psychosocial development.

Hope: Trust vs. Mistrust

The first and foremost stage in Erikson’s eight stages of psychosocial development is the stage of hope. The stage of hope is experienced during infancy. It is when the struggle between trust and mistrust occurs.  The major emphasis under this stage is the trust the infant has in his mother and father.

Will: Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt

The stage of will starts just after infancy and ends when a child reaches his third year. This is a critical period as a child in this stage has the opportunity to build self-esteem. If not cared for accordingly, a child may become doubtful of himself and his abilities.

Purpose: Initiative vs. Guilt

In this stage, a preschooler starts to become curious of his surroundings. He starts to wonder and asks “why?” Children who are in this stage also start to develop a sense of judgment.

Competence: Industry vs. Inferiority

The stage of competence naturally runs from a child’s sixth to 11th year. In this period, a child seeks to become more productive, particularly in school. They begin to work toward being responsible. They start to develop interests. They start to become more concerned with their improvement both socially and school wise.

Fidelity: Identity vs. Role Confusion

In the stage of fidelity, a teenager starts to become to wonder how he is perceived by others. Teenagers are concerned with how they appear to their peers. They start to build a sense of personality, wondering what role they will play come adulthood.

Love: Intimacy vs. Isolation

The stage of love is experienced mainly by young adults. It is the time when a person evaluates whether he is being loved or not. During this stage, a person decides whether to marry or not.

Care: Generativity vs. Stagnation

The seventh and eighth stages in Erikson’s stage of psychosocial development pertain to a higher and more universal calling. In the stage of care, a person starts to work on establishing a legacy – something of real value to his family and friends.

Wisdom: Ego Integrity vs. Despair

In this last stage in Erikson’s psychosocial model, a person looks back on his accomplishments. An elder usually asks himself whether he has lived a productive life or not.