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Friday, July 22, 2011

Erikson's Stages of Psychosocial Development

Psychosocial Conflict: Trust vs Mistrust
Major Question: "Can I trust the people around me?"
Basic Virtue: Hope
Important Event(s): Feeding




The trust versus mistrust stage is the first stage of Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development. This stage occurs between birth and approximately 18 months of age. According to Erikson, the trust versus mistrust stage is the most important period in a person’s life.

Because an infant is entirely dependent upon his or her caregivers, the quality of care that the child receives plays an important role in the shaping of the child’s personality. During this stage, children learn whether or not they can trust the people around them. When a baby cries, does his caregiver attend to his needs? When he is frightened, will someone comfort him?

When these needs are consistently met, the child will learn that he can trust the people that are caring for him. If, however, these needs are not consistently met, the child will begin to mistrust the people around him.

If a child successfully develops trust, he or she will feel safe and secure in the world. Caregivers who are inconsistent, emotionally unavailable or rejecting contribute to feelings of mistrust in the children they care for. Failure to develop trust will result in fear and a belief that the world is inconsistent and unpredictable.

Psychosocial Conflict: Autonomy versus Shame and Doubt
Major Question: "Can I do things myself or am I reliant on the help of others?" Basic Virtue: Will
Important Event(s): Toilet Training



Autonomy versus shame and doubt is the second stage of Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development. This stage occurs between the ages of 18 months to approximately age two to three years. According to Erikson, children at this stage are focused on developing a greater sense of self-control.

Gaining a sense of personal control over the world is important at this stage of development. Toilet training plays a major role; learning to control one’s body functions leads to a feeling of control and a sense of independence. Other important events include gaining more control over food choices, toy preferences and clothing selection.

Children who successfully complete this stage feel secure and confident, while those who do not are left with a sense of inadequacy and self-doubt.

Psychosocial Conflict: Initiative versus Guilt
Major Question: “Am I good or bad?”
Basic Virtue: Purpose
Important Event(s): Exploration, Play



Initiative versus guilt is the third stage of Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development. This stage occurs during the preschool years, between the ages of three and five. During the initiative versus guilt stage, children begin to assert their power and control over the world through directing play and other social interaction.

Children need to begin asserting control and power over the environment by taking initiative by planning activities, accomplishing tasks and facing challenges. During this stage, it is important for caregivers to encourage exploration and to help children make appropriate choices. Caregivers who are discouraging or dismissive may cause children to feel ashamed of themselves and to become overly dependent upon the help of others.

Play and imagination takes on an important role at this stage. Children have their sense of initiative reinforced by being given the freedom and encouragement to play. When efforts to engage in physical and imaginative play are stifled by caregivers, children begin to feel that their self-initiated efforts are a source of embarrassment. Success in this stage leads to a sense of purpose, while failure results in a sense of guilt.

Psychosocial Conflict: Industry versus Inferiority
Major Question: "How can I be good?"
Basic Virtue: Competence
Important Event(s): School



Industry versus inferiority is the fourth stage of Erik Erikson's theory of psychosocial development. The stage occurs during childhood between the ages of six and eleven. School and social interaction play an important role during this time of a child’s life. Through social interactions, children begin to develop a sense of pride in their accomplishments and abilities.

During the industry versus inferiority stage, children become capable of performing increasingly complex tasks. As a result, they strive to master new skills. Children who are encouraged and commended by parents and teachers develop a feeling of competence and belief in their skills. Those who receive little or no encouragement from parents, teachers, or peers will doubt their ability to be successful.

According to Erikson, this stage is vital in the development of self-confidence. During school and other social activities, children receive praise and attention for performing various tasks such as reading, writing, drawing and solving problems. Children need to cope with new social and academic demands. Success leads to a sense of competence, while failure results in feelings of inferiority.

Psychosocial Conflict: Identity Versus Confusion
Major Question: "Who am I?"
Basic Virtue: Fidelity
Important Event(s): Social Relationships



Identity versus confusion is the fifth stage of Erik Erikson's theory of psychosocial development. This stage occurs during adolescence between the ages of approximately 12 to 18. Teens need to develop a sense of self and personal identity. During adolescence, children are exploring their independence and developing a sense of self.

As they make the transition from childhood to adulthood, teens may begin to feel confused or insecure about themselves and how they fit in to society. As they seek to establish a sense of self, teens may experiment with different roles, activities and behaviors. According to Erikson, this is important to the process of forming a strong identity and developing a sense of direction in life.

Those who receive proper encouragement and reinforcement through personal exploration will emerge from this stage with a strong sense of self and a feeling of independence and control. Those who remain unsure of their beliefs and desires will insecure and confused about themselves and the future.

Psychosocial Conflict: Intimacy Versus Isolation
Major Question: "Will I be loved or will I be alone?"
Basic Virtue: Love
Important Event(s): Romantic Relationships



Intimacy versus isolation is the sixth stage of Erik Erikson's theory of psychosocial development. This stage takes place during young adulthood between the ages of approximately 19 and 40. During this period of time, the major conflict centers on forming intimate, loving relationships with other people.

While psychosocial theory is often presented as a series of neatly defined, sequential steps, it is important to remember that each stage contributes to the next. For example, Erikson believed that having a fully formed sense of self (established during the identity versus confusion stage) is essential to being able to form intimate relationships. Studies have demonstrated that those with a poor sense of self tend to have less committed relationships and are more likely to suffer emotional isolation, loneliness, and depression.

Erikson believed it was vital that people develop close, committed relationships with other people. Success leads to strong relationships, while failure results in loneliness and isolation.

Psychosocial Conflict: Generativity Versus Stagnation
Major Question: "How can I contribute to the world?"
Basic Virtue: Care
Important Event(s): Parenthood and Work



Generativity versus stagnation is the seventh stage of Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development. This stage takes place during middle adulthood between the ages of approximately 40 and 65. During this time, adults strive to create or nurture things that will outlast them; often by having children or contributing to positive changes that benefits other people.

Contributing to society and doing things to benefit future generations are important needs at the generativity versus stagnation stage of development. Generativity refers to "making your mark" on the world, through caring for others, creating things and accomplishing things that make the world a better place.

Stagnation refers to the failure to find a way to contribute. These individuals may feel disconnected or uninvolved with their community and with society as a whole.

Those who are successful during this phase will feel that they are contributing to the world by being active in their home and community. Those who fail to attain this skill will feel unproductive and uninvolved in the world.

Psychosocial Conflict: Integrity versus despair
Major Question: "Did I live a meaningful life?"
Basic Virtue: Wisdom
Important Event(s): Reflecting back on life



Integrity versus despair is the eighth and final stage of Erik Erikson's theory of psychosocial development. This stage occurs during late adulthood from age 65 through the end of life. During this period of time, people reflect back on the life they have lived and come away with either a sense of fulfillment from a life well lived or a sense of regret and despair over a life misspent.

Those who feel proud of their accomplishments will feel a sense of integrity. Successfully completing this phase means looking back with few regrets and a general feeling of satisfaction. These individuals will attain wisdom, even when confronting death. Those who feel proud of their accomplishments will feel a sense of integrity. Successfully completing this phase means looking back with few regrets and a general feeling of satisfaction. These individuals will attain wisdom, even when confronting death.

Those who are unsuccessful during this phase will feel that their life has been wasted and will experience many regrets. The individual will be left with feelings of bitterness and despair.
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