Psychosocial Development Theory: Erikson’s 8 Stages

Psychosocial Development Theory


Psychologist Erik Erikson has developed eight stages of psychological development of a person which states the process of growing one person’s maturity. These stages encompass all the challenges one can face during the process of psychological development in his lifetime (Maree, 2021). This kind of stage-based developmental theory was most common across the United States during Erikson’s era where the most important distinction between other theories of psychology and Erikson is the differences in ideology and time. In Erikson’s model, one does not need to achieve the stages during the process of maturity. The only requirement is to pass through the necessary development stages which would prove as sufficient for being a mature person. According to (Gunderman, 2022), Erikson’s theory of psychological development impacts social experience across the entire lifespan. According to the report (Robustelli, et al., 2017), Erikson was also observed to have a keen interest in social relationships and interaction which plays a significant role in the growth and development of human beings.

Source: ( 2022)

Meaning Of Psychological Development

According to (Whitehead, et al., 2020), psychological development this terminology is used to define the process through which one individual needs to interact with all the other needs or requirements of society. Erikson believes that one can go through eight stages of psychological Development of maturity growth where each of the stages establishes one after another. Though people can face crises during these stages which disrupt the process of psychological development to some extent but can also be resolved through strategies, learning, and understanding. The development of maturity or each different psychological characteristic or trait help to become healthier and more confident in life.

As per the belief of Erikson, this theory provides the major framework to examine one’s growth throughout his lifetime (Lind, 2017). However, one may also find oneself after going through each or some of these stages to recognize the personality. To know more about psychological development students can take help from online assignment help experts.

Conflict Within Each Development Stages

As per the view of Erikson, there are some conflicts observed within each stage of psychological development which serves as a turning point in the development of maturity or psychology (Maksimenko, and Serdiuk, 2016). Erikson also focused on the possible conflicts which embrace the development of psychological quality or with the failure to develop that quality standard. During the process of development, the potential for interpersonal development is high which can also be potential for failure. If one person has the ability to deal with these conflicts, then he can emerge from these stages with the psychological strength which also serves them well for the rest of his life. If one fails to deal with these stages and conflicts in a required efficient way, he may or may not be able to develop the required skills and personality needed to get a quality life.

Source: (The Psychology Notes Headquarters. 2022)

Eight Stages Of Psychosocial Development

Source: (Verywell Mind. 2022)

Stage 1: Trust vs. Mistrust: Erikson’s psychological development theory begins with childbirth until it becomes 12/18 years old, that is it reaches to its first birthday and beyond some (Knight, 2017).

According to write that essay experts , It can be noticed that a child’s complete reliance on its mother. Everything a child ask about food, comfort, sleep, warmth and others which it gets usually from mother. It’s necessary to provide the child maximum time, comfort and warmth where not only physical care about health, medicines, foods are included but also its mental necessities also need to be met. This stage is about infants which are solely dependent on others and it’s important to develop trust on the basis of the quality of the child’s caregivers.

Source: ( Therapy Blog. 2022)

At this fundamental stage of development, as a child is dependent on mother or other caregivers for every single thing to survive, if mother or caregivers fail to provide required care, warmth and love to the child it creates mistrust and spoils it’s mental growth. According to (Branje, et al., 2018), not a single child is born into an accurate flawless society. There are various occasional ups and downs that make a child less confident and nervous to deal with. Where care and support work adequately to make the child confident about exploring the world. Children would not be able to get confidence and required mental support if it gets untrustworthy and unpredictable caregivers.

Stage 2: Autonomy vs. shame and doubt: This stage of psychological development exists in between the age group of 18 months to 3 years old. One caregiver or mother reached the expected milestone when the toilet begins to assert a child’s independence (Orenstein, and Lewis, 2021). In this stage children learn to do things by his own where it’s required independence and support. Children at this stage start to grasp new things and reform their ability to perform little basic tasks by themselves which makes their decision more preferable. As a caregiver or parent, it’s important to give the kids required independence to make their own choices and controls over little actions as it helps to develop their sense of autonomy. 

Source: (Medium. 2022)

Training for toilets on their own is the first thing the toddlers learn in this stage and gain control to perform on their own without or with less help from their caregivers. According to Erikson’s theory which believes in this learning and control about its own body functions tends to understand the feeling of independence and sense the call or control (Medium. 2022). Making food choices, toy choices are some other actions which help to understand independence and autonomy over doubt and shame.

Stage3: Initiative vs. guilt: This is known as the third stage of Erikson’s psychological theory which belongs to the children aged 3-5 years. Children at this stage are ready to attempt preschool experiences. At this development Stage, children are generally ready to assert their own power and able to take control over and around the world through the direction of social interactions (Lopiga et al., 2020). As a parent it’s important to ensure that children have the scopes to engage into tasks related to learning, goals and where children also know about taking responsibility. As a parent, it’s important to allow them a chance to explore a little of the world within the boundaries which have been established. Children in this stage would learn to share with others, able to play with other playmates. Children who are unable to take these initiatives, unable to learn and adapt things like other children of the same age are left with the sense of self-doubt, guilt which makes them mentally stressed. 

Source: (Verywell Mind. 2022)

Stage 4: Industry vs. Inferiority: This is the fourth stage of Erikson’s psychological development theory where the children within the age group of 5-12 years old fall in this stage. Children at this stage have engaged into schooling starting from kindergarten where they are able to pick up new skills and experiences (Rehal, et al., 2016). This is the stage where children are spending more time with their teachers, friends and begin to judge and understand others on their own. Children also acquire sentiments and emotions about success, pride, failure or relevance and are also able to make decisions about their requirement of improvement in academics. If one child appears to struggle in one particular area and seeks other areas, its important to provide them enough support or assistance with the scope to learn new things for psychological development. If one child is unable to establish required social interactions with the sense of emotions, pride about their abilities, accomplishments or necessary improvements, progress, they go through the feelings of inferiority which chase them to unsatisfactory growth and unanticipated academic demands. 

Source: (Verywell Mind. 2022)

Stage 5: Identity vs. Confusion:  this comes in the fifth stage of Erikson’s psychological development Theory. Children aged from 12-18 come under this stage. Fifth stage generally indicates the stage of adolescence before a child enters adulthood (Knight, 2017). It’s high time for the parents or caregivers to practice the techniques to behave good and positive with the child to ensure they get a positive environmental condition to learn and stay positive. Children at this stage face various changes physically, mentally so if they go through a lack of identity, they become confused about making decisions. Here children try to examine their ambitions, values, beliefs and ways to define their identity. Erikson was not specific at this age to state about the accurate way of knowing one’s own identity by the children as it depends differently for different children. While as per this theory, identity is considered to be shaped with the reinforcement, assistance which one parent or guid can provide. Furthermore, behaviour of children and concurrent values are shaped with all the social interactions and experiences. Adolescents or teenagers at this stage can deal with the crisis they face with their own style and identity for which despite the crisis they might have a good future where they will be able to uphold their own set of principles. 

Stage 6: Intimacy vs. Isolation: intimacy against isolation is known to belong at the sixth stage which lies in the age group of 18-40. Adulthood needs to involve love, relationship, intimacy with others as usual natural changes in life. Success tends to create strong relationships where failure to create relationships or intimacy with others makes one lonely or isolated. According to the thesis help experts, this sixth stage also covers that particular period of adulthood to grownups where people are into exploring new relationships and belongings to stay with. According to (Adamczyk et al., 2022), most important thing in this intimacy vs. isolation stage of Erikson’s psychological development theory is that people become more into the struggle to make trust and love in a relationship to continue the life with the same and who successfully managed to feel secured and endured and who did not become isolated.

Source: (Verywell Mind. 2022)

Stage 7: Generativity vs. Stagnation:  This is the seventh stage of the theory which falls under the age group of 40-65 years. This stage is especially marked with the desire to help one another and on this particular level, it entails the establishment of family and the next generation. According to (Adamczyk et al., 2022), in the seventh stage of the psychological development theory, adults require to recreate things which would outlast them and also make a positive enlargement and changes to benefit one or others. Success in this stage tends to expand the feelings of accomplishment and usefulness where the failure tends to stagnate. During this stage, a person consistently focuses on building lives, career and family. Those people who become successful enough to manage their career, family, and charity feel useful and contribute to the development of society and community. According to (Malone et al., 2016), care is known to be the virtue at the stage of generativity vs. stagnation during the successful handling of this phase of life.

Stage 8: Integrity vs. DespairThis stage falls for the people over 65 years old. According to (Westerhof, et al., 2017), this is the final stage of Erikson’s psychological development theory that occurs at old age and depends on the reflection of life. At this particular phase, people look back on the events of their lives and measure if they can be sufficiently satisfied with the way they spend their life or if they regret any actions, or decisions they made.  As per Erikson’s theory, old age needs to nurture their lifespan, fulfilments, success or failures. In this stage, people who look back on their life span might feel well lived, contributed to society development or also ready to face their ultimate end of lives.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Erikson’s Theory

According to (Adamczyk, et al., 2022), Erikson’s theory has various of strengths and limitations as per the criticisms. 

One major weakness of psychosocial theory is that the exact mechanisms for resolving conflicts and moving from one stage to the next are not well described or developed. The theory fails to detail exactly what type of experiences are necessary at each stage in order to successfully resolve the conflicts and move to the next stage. 

Strength of this theory and stages can be observed the way it offers a wider range of framework from where it put view on the development through the whole lifespan. This theory allows to emphasize the human beings into social interactions and the influence on establishing life and growth in maturity. Various researchers come in criticizing this theory for its positive sides where they found the evidence to support their ideas about the development of identity, independent, trust through making different initiatives. Another strength of this theory is that it covers one from its childhood to death through the stage of adolescence, adulthood, growing up and old age. Learning about toilet by own to involved into relationships, social interactions and intimacy all are covered under this theory thoroughly. To know more students can take assistance from essay writing service experts from SourceEssay.

There are various limitations observed in this theory which shows that this theory exactly come to resolve the existing conflict by moving from one stage to another. This theory also fails to involve in detailing, which is exactly the type of the learning, experiences required at each different stage. This theory is often criticized to support a limited range of human development where the critics came with the argument about Erikson’s focus on mostly on childhood and growing up and disproportionate focus on adulthood or old age (Westerhof, et al., 2017). There are other critics as well who took the issue in concern about the unclear focus on gender where Erikson also agree with the fact of existing personality differences from the different genders but that are not clearly explained in the stages of the theory. Some critics also judge about Erikson’s disproportionate or partial focus on speculation rather than elementary data and proofs. Theory is based on biographical studies and research with less mathematical theories. 


At the end of the paper the conclusion can be made where it can be concluded that Erikson’s psychological development theory is important to remember the fact that changes in one’s life starting from childhood to old age or lastly despair through the stages of adulthood various changes in psychology takes place. Erikson defined possible changes and required necessities to do for ensuring well developed child psychology which help the child become confident, psychologically, or physically strong to deal with the society, community. This theory with different eight stages helps to know about the distinctive conflicts and challenges one can go through during the process of psychological development. There are various critics who put their focus to judge about the applicability or success of Erikson’s theory as per the real-life observations. Some good points like pointing out the necessities and requirement for child psychology development have been considered as the strength of the theory where some criticisms made for complete avoidance of gender, negligence about more focus on old age, adulthood have also been evaluated. 


Adamczyk, K., Park, J.Y. and Segrin, C., 2022. Patterns of intimacy crisis resolution and their associations with romantic loneliness in Polish and US young adults. Developmental Psychology.

Branje, S.J.T., Koper, N. and Bornstein, M., 2018. Psychosocial development. Therapy Blog. 2022. Erikson’s Eight Stages of Development – Therapy Blog

Gunderman, R.B., 2022. Psychology and ethics: Erik Erikson. Pediatric Radiology, pp.1-3.

Knight, Z.G., 2017. A proposed model of psychodynamic psychotherapy linked to Erik Erikson’s eight stages of psychosocial development. Clinical psychology & psychotherapy, 24(5), pp.1047-1058.

Knight, Z.G., 2017. A proposed model of psychodynamic psychotherapy linked to Erik Erikson’s eight stages of psychosocial development. Clinical psychology & psychotherapy, 24(5), pp.1047-1058.

Lind, G., 2017. The theory of moral-cognitive development a socio-psychological assessment.

Lopiga, R.V., PEREZ, A. and TUGADE, G., 2020. Testing Erik Erikson’s psychosocial stages. Theses, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, viewed, 20.

Maksimenko, S. and Serdiuk, L., 2016. Psychological potential of personal self-realization.

Malone JC, Liu SR, Vaillant GE, Rentz DM, Waldinger RJ.2016.

Maree, J.G., 2021. The psychosocial development theory of Erik Erikson

Orenstein, G.A. and Lewis, L., 2021. Eriksons stages of psychosocial development. In StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing. 2022. Erikson’s Stages Of Human Development. Protection Status
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