8 Stages of Psychosocial Development from Infancy to Adulthood (Erik Erikson’s Theory)

Psychosocial development is one of the most important aspects of human development. Erik Erikson, a psychologist and professor at Harvard University and the University of California, theorizes that the personality of a human can be developed through eight different stages.

Psychosocial development itself, according to Dr. Tanu Singh, is a person’s growth based on social and psychological aspects. It means that social skills, personality, and human character will develop and can be learned from infancy until getting older.

To understand each stage of Erik Erikson’s psychosocial development, you can dive into our post since we will show you Erik Erikson’s 8 stages of psychosocial development. Here you go!

Erik Erikson’s 8 Stages of Psychosocial Development

Erik Erikson maintained that personality can develop in a predetermined order through eight stages of psychosocial development, starting from infancy to adulthood. At each stage, the person experiences a psychosocial crisis that really needs to be resolved. Furthermore, the personality of a person is formed by how they respond to each of these crises.

A person who is said to have successfully passed each stage will develop a healthy personality and acquire basic virtues. Well, the basic virtues are characteristics that the ego can use to resolve its next psychosocial crisis.

If a person fails to complete each stage of psychosocial development, it can result in a reduced ability to complete further stages and, thus, a more unhealthy personality and sense of self. However, these stages can be solved successfully at a later time.

The following are Erik Erikson’s 8 stages of psychosocial development:

1. Trust vs. Mistrust (from Birth to 18 Months)

cute baby in bed with mommy

Trust vs. mistrust is the first stage of Erik Erikson’s psychosocial development that begins at birth and continues to approximately 18 months of age. This is the most fundamental stage in a human’s life.

During this stage, an infant feels uncertain about the world where they live, and they will develop their trust only in their caregivers, i.e., their parents. If an infant receives consistent, predictable, and reliable care from a caregiver, they will then develop a sense of trust that they can carry with them into other relationships, and of course they will feel secure even when threatened.

Otherwise, if an infant receives inconsistent, unpredictable, and unreliable care, they may develop a sense of mistrust, suspicion, and anxiety. When they are growing up, they may feel untrusting toward people or even depend on adults in their lives since they have no self-confidence.

2. Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt (18 Months–3 Years)

a boy doing toilet training

This stage occurs between the ages of 18 months and 3 years, when the children experience a sense of personal control over their psychic skills and a sense of independence. It is no wonder that children at this age tend to explore their environment and will learn to be more independent.

Furthermore, they will start taking basic actions on their own and making simple decisions about things they like and want. As a parent, you should allow your children to make choices and gain control over themselves. Of course, parents and caregivers are very important figures in developing a sense of autonomy in children.

If the parent tends to restrict every action and decision the children make, it can result in shame and constant doubt about their ability to take care of themselves. Some simple skills that children can do at this age include toilet training, getting dressed, and brushing their teeth. In addition, running and jumping are two of the physical skills the children can do at this stage.

3. Initiative vs. Guilt (4 years)

kids 40 years old playing at park

This stage will last approximately 4 years, during the preschool years. During this stage, children can assert themselves more frequently to initiate social interactions, plan activities, make up games with others, etc. As a parent, you are not surprised when your children at this stage ask a lot of questions.

If your children successfully pass this stage, they will feel able to lead others. Otherwise, if they fail to pass this stage since they are too controlled, they may have an attitude of frequent self-doubt and lack of initiative.

4. Industry vs. Inferiority (5–12 Years)

children are learning to read and write

Industry vs. inferiority occurs between the ages of 5 and 12, where the children start learning to read and write, to do things on their own, and to do sums. Through social interaction, children will be able to develop a sense of pride in their accomplishments and abilities.

During this stage, children should cope with new social and academic demands. Basically, success through this stage can lead to a sense of competence, leading them to feel confident and competent in their ability to achieve goals. Otherwise, if this initiative is not encouraged, it can result in feelings of inferiority, leading them to doubt their own abilities and preventing them from reaching their potential.

5. Identity vs. Role Confusion (12–18 Years)

teenage girl is making a makeup tutorial video

Between the ages of 12 and 18, people experience identity vs. role confusion. Through an intense exploration of personal beliefs, values, and goals during this stage, adolescents will try to find a sense of self and a personal identity.

There is no doubt that this stage really plays an important role in developing a sense of self-identity and will continue to influence behavior and development for the rest of a person’s life. If they receive the right strength and encouragement through their personal exploration, they will really have a strong sense of identity, control, and independence.

If they fail to develop a sense of identity within society, it can result in role confusion. Role confusion itself involves the individual not knowing themselves or their place in society. Further, they may begin to experiment with different styles, in response to role confusion or an identity crisis.

Read also: Definitions of Adolescence According to Experts and WHO

6. Intimacy vs. Isolation (14–40 Years)

a young couple dating

This sixth stage occurs between the ages of 18 and 40 years, and the major conflict at this stage lies in forming intimate, loving relationships with other people. During this stage, a person will begin to share themselves more intimately with others.

This stage also allows an individual to explore relationships leading towards longer-term commitments with someone other than a family member. If they successfully pass through this stage, it can result in a happy relationship, a sense of commitment, and care within a relationship. If they fail at this stage, it can lead to loneliness, isolation, and sometimes anxiety disorders.

7. Generativity vs. Stagnation (40 – 65 Years)

family reunion

Generativity vs. stagnation occurs during middle adulthood, approximately at the age of 45–60. At this stage, a person may have the ability to redefine priorities in his life, such as raising children, being involved in community activities, being productive at work, etc. Through generativity, a person may develop a sense of being part of the bigger picture.

Success through this stage will lead to feelings of usefulness and accomplishment, while failure through this stage will result in shallow involvement in the world. If they fail to find a way to contribute, they may become stagnant and feel unproductive.

8. Ego Integrity vs. Despair

66 years old with a wheelchair (old man couple)

This final stage of Erik Erikson’s psychosocial development occurs between the ages of 65 and death. During this stage, a person will reflect on their life and accomplishments, as well as accept the fact that death is inevitable.

Erikson states that if a person feels their life is not productive or if a person has feelings of guilt for things that happened in the past, of course it can result in feelings of hopelessness. Otherwise, if they’ve successfully passed this stage, it can lead to feelings of satisfaction and wisdom.

Okay, those are the eight stages of psychosocial development based on Erik Erikson’s theory. With the availability of theories about human development, these can be helpful tips to think about some of the different conflicts and challenges that we may face in our lives.

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