Erik Erikson The psychosocial development theory was based on the development of personality. Erikson was a personality theorist and identified that we go through eight stages of development. Each stage is characterised by a psychosocial dilemma.
Psychosocial Dilemma • A conflict between personal impulses and the social world. • There is a conflict at each stage of development that must be addressed. • How the conflict is managed ultimately shapes an individual’s personality.
Stage 1: Trust versus mistrust(First year of life) • Fundamental Question: “Is my world predictable and supportive?”
Stage 1: Trust versus mistrust(First year of life) • Infants depend completely on adults to take care of their needs. • If the needs are met, sound attachments are formed and the child should adopt an optimistic, trusting attitude to the world. • If needs are not met, a more distrusting, insecure personality will result.
Stage 2: Autonomy versus shame and doubt (2-3 years) • Fundamental Question: “Can I do things myself or must I always rely on others?”
Stage 2: Autonomy versus shame and doubt (2-3 years) • Parents begin toilet training and regulating their child. • The child must begin to take responsibility for things like eating, bathing and dressing. • If they master this stage, they acquire a sense of self-sufficiency. • If parents have problems here and are never happy with the child’s efforts, a sense of shame and doubt may develop.
Stage 3: initiative versus guilt (4-6 years) • Fundamental Question: “Am I good or am I bad?”
Stage 3: initiative versus guilt (4-6 years) • The challenge in this stage is for the child to function socially within their family. • If the child only thinks about their own needs and desires, then family members may instil feelings of guilt, leading to lower self-esteem. • If the child gets along well with others in the family, then a sense of self-confidence should grow.
Stage 4: industry versus inferiority(6 years to puberty) • Fundamental Question: “Am I competent or am I worthless?”
Stage 4: industry versus inferiority(6 years to puberty) • There is a shift from functioning socially within the family to the wider community, such as school. • Children who flourish in this stage will develop a sense of competence. • Children who struggle with this less-nurturing environment will have feelings of incompetence or inferiority.
Stage 5: identity versus role confusion(adolescence) • Fundamental Question: “Who am I and where am I going?”
Stage 5: identity versus role confusion (adolescence) • The main challenge in this stage is to form a clear sense of identity, by seeing themselves as a unique individual and defining their own personal values that provide them with their sense of direction. • Those who are successful tend to develop a healthy and confident sense of identity. • Those who are unsuccessful tend to experience a sense of ‘role confusion’ leading to lower self esteem, instability and social withdrawal.
Stage 6: intimacy versus isolation(early adulthood) • Fundamental Question: “Shall I share my life with another or live alone?”
Stage 6: intimacy versus isolation (early adulthood) • This stage is concerned with whether a person can develop the capacity to share intimacy with others and find a meaningful intimate relationship in their lives. • Successful resolution of this crisis promotes empathy and openness. • Unsuccessful resolution promotes feelings of isolation as well as shrewdness and a need to manipulate.
Stage 7: generativity versus stagnation(Middle adulthood) • Fundamental Question: “Will I produce something of real value?”
Stage 7: generativity versus stagnation • The challenge is to develop worthwhile relationships with the younger generation. • Those successful at this stage tends to provide some sort of unselfish guidance to younger people on a frequent basis and feel content to keep doing so. • People who are unsuccessful are self-absorbed and have self-indulgent concerns about meeting their own needs and desires and have nothing to do with the younger generation.
Stage 8: integrity versus despair(late adulthood) • Fundamental Question: “Have I lived a full life?”
Stage 8: integrity versus despair (late adulthood) • The challenge is to avoid dwelling on the mistakes of the past and on one’s imminent death. • It is also the time to reflect on and review one’s life. • Success at this stage has people finding meaning and satisfaction with life as they look back. • Those who are unsuccessful reflect back and see the problems they struggled to deal with. They tend to wallow in bitterness, regret, despair and resentment.
Evaluation of EriksonStrengths • Many psychologists agree that the psychosocial dilemmas in each stage contribute significantly to social-emotional development. • Erikson’s theory shows how social situations influence personality development. • Further research has occurred since Erikson proposed his theory. Much of it supporting his views on development.
Limitations • The idealised ‘typical’ development patterns suggested by Erikson do not fully explain the enormous personality differences between people. • The psychosocial dilemmas tend to be more descriptive than explanatory. This makes them difficult to test and verify. • There is no clear evidence to support that problems in earlier stages will lead to issues in later stages.