Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development, as articulated by Erik Erikson, is a psychoanalytic theory which identifies eight stages through which a healthily developing human should pass from infancy to late adulthood. In each stage, the person confronts, and hopefully masters, new challenges. Each stage builds upon the successful completion of earlier stages. The challenges of stages not successfully completed may be expected to reappear as problems in the future.
However, mastery of a stage is not required to advance to the next stage. Erikson’s stage theory characterizes an individual advancing through the eight life stages as a function of negotiating his or her biological forces and sociocultural forces. Each stage is characterized by a psychosocial crisis of these two conflicting forces (as shown in the table below). If an individual does indeed successfully reconcile these forces (favoring the first mentioned attribute in the crisis), he or she emerges from the stage with the corresponding virtue. For example, if an infant enters into the toddler stage (autonomy vs. shame and doubt) with more trust than mistrust, he or she carries the virtue of hope into the remaining life stages.
|Approximate Age||Virtues||Psychosocial crisis||Significant relationship||Existential question||Examples|
|0-2 years||Hope||Basic trust vs. mistrust||Mother||Can I trust the world?||Feeding, abandonment|
|2–4 years||Will||Autonomy vs. shame and doubt||Parents||Is it okay to be me?||Toilet training, clothing themselves|
|4–5 years||Purpose||Initiative vs. guilt||Family||Is it okay for me to do, move, and act?||Exploring, using tools or making art|
|5–12 years||Competence||Industry vs. inferiority||Neighbors, school||Can I make it in the world of people and things?||School, sports|
|13–19 years||Fidelity||Identity vs. role confusion||Peers, role model||Who am I? Who can I be?||Social relationships|
|20–39 years||Love||Intimacy vs. isolation||Friends, partners||Can I love?||Romantic relationships|
|40–64 years||Care||Generativity vs. stagnation||Household, workmates||Can I make my life count?||Work, parenthood|
|65-death||Wisdom||Ego integrity vs. despair||Mankind, my kind||Is it okay to have been me?||Reflection on life|