What are Psychosocial Stages of Development: Who gave them?

What are Psychosocial Stages of Development: Who gave them?

Erik Erikson was a German-American Psychologist, who gave a significant developmental theory. His work was influenced by the work of Sigmund Freud. But the theory of Erikson is surrounded by psychosocial development rather than psychosexual development as in Freud’s theory. There are 8 stages of psychosocial development. Erikson supported the view that personality develops in stages in human beings. He believed that the stages of developing socially are spread across the life span of an individual. He was intrigued to know how the growth of a person is impacted by the social connections that they have and the relationships formed by them. Each stage in the psychosocial theory of development relies on previous stages and builds the path for periods of development. According to him, in each stage, the person faces a conflict that makes a landmark of developing being, which encircles around achieving or giving up the psychological quality of that stage. When a person achieves in handling the conflict then they build a strength psychologically which aids and supports them throughout their lifetime. Whereas if they fail to handle the conflict then they might not get the strength psychologically required for a stronger sense of self. Erikson presumed that our actions and behaviors are driven by our sense of competence in us, each stage of psychosocial development helps us in evolving as a being and building these competencies. If the person is able to acquire competence in each stage, they attain a sense of proficiency or mastery, which is at times known as ego quality or strength. Whereas, if the individual is unable to acquire the competence in each stage, they attain a sense of insufficiency or inadequacy while developing.

Stage 1: Trust vs Mistrust

This stage begins from birth and continues till 1 year, the newborn is completely dependent on parents or caregivers, and the aspect of building trust is influenced by the quality and dependability of the parents or caregivers. If the parents or caregivers are unable to provide an adequate amount of warmth, love, care, and affection, the child won't be able to develop trust in their relationships as an adult, whereas, if parents or caregivers do provide all the love and care adequately then the child will be able to develop trust in their relations as an adult. The inability to build trust (can be due to emotionally distant, rejecting, or inconsistent feelings from caregivers), can lead the child to be fearful and think that the world is an insecure, unpredictable, and inconsistent place. Erikson believed that it is not about building 100% in either of the two ends, instead, it is about achieving a sense of balance to attain hope. Hope here promotes being ready for new experiences moderated with prudence in presence of harm or danger. 



Stage 2: Autonomy vs Shame/Doubt

It comes in action during early childhood when the child progresses towards achieving a sense of personal control. During this period, the child gains some independence by doing small things and selecting what they like and don't like. When the child is given this freedom by parents or caregivers, the child accomplishes a sense of autonomy. The child has to mature to control their physical skills as a sense of independence, and here toilet training plays a significant role. According to Erikson, control over bodily functions results in a sense of independence and control. The kids who are shamed or scuffled due to their mishappenings are unable to achieve a sense of control personally. A balance between the two ends of this stage leads an individual to will, where -it’s understood that children behave with intentions in limits and reasons.


Stage 3: Industry vs Inferiority

This comes up during the ages of 5-11 (the early school years) when the child matures a sense of pride in their capabilities and achievements. Children are required to deal with new social demands and academic goals. The ones who are approved and encouraged by teachers and caregivers progress in achieving a sense of competence and belief in their skills, whereas the ones who aren't given this support and encouragement develop doubt about their skills. The person who achieves balance in this stage attains a sense of competence, which results in them having faith in their skills to deal with the tasks told to them.


Stage 4: Identity vs Confusion

Comes up in the teenage years, which plays a significant part in building a personal identity that impacts their development and behavior throughout their lives. Succeeding to achieve this, creates a true identity of yourself, whereas failing to achieve its results in a weak sense of self and confusion. The ones who are supported to explore, construct a true sense of identity whereas the ones who are not given this scope feel insecure and befuddled.


Stage 5: Intimacy vs Isolation

Everyone requires to attain loving and intimate relationships with others, which starts with this stage during the early adulthood years, to explore and form personal relationships. The individuals who are able to achieve this maintain secure and enduring personal bonds, whereas those who are unable to achieve it, scuffle in loneliness, isolation, and depression. The ego strength achieved in this stage is love, which is characterized by the relationships that are formed.


Stage 6: Initiative vs Guilt

This stage comes into play during preschool years, kids start to assert control and power in their social communication and interactions with the world. Children who are able to accomplish it, feel capable and develop leadership skills, those who are unable to achieve it experience lack of initiative, and feel doubtful and guilty. The appropriate control and power over their social world will give a sense of purpose while over-assertion will lead to guilt and under-assertion will lead to being doubtful. In the individual who accomplishes balance in this stage, the ego strength of purpose appears. 


Stage 7: Generativity vs Stagnation

People require to achieve a sense of something that there is a part of them or a mark that they have left, which is usually done by having and raising kids, or bringing a positive change in the lives of others. In the adult years, the people who are able to create or contribute in a way feel that they actively participated or generated something at home or in this world. Whereas, the ones who fail to achieve this, experience the feeling of stagnation and being unproductive throughout their lives. Care is the ego quality which is achieved by the ones who are able to maintain a balance in this stage. 


Stage 8: Integrity vs Despair

This stage takes place in old age and is centered on reflecting and retrospection about the life that a person has lived. The people who look back and feel that they have succeeded in their lives attain wisdom and the ones who feel that they haven't achieved something acquire a sense of regret, despair, and bitterness. The people who are able to achieve a balance between the two ends of this stage accomplish the ego strength of satisfaction.



This theory has faced some criticisms (like not being able to provide a description of events) and some support (like that this theory focuses on a wide framework of development). But it can be concluded that this theory has separated the development of personality and forming a social identity as a social being.



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