Erickson’s Theory of Growth Stages

According to Erick Erickson’s psychosocial theory, human growth and development stages are founded on the idea that individuals are motivated to become competent in various aspects of their daily lives. The psychosocial theory of Erick Erickson states that from early childhood through late adulthood, humans go through eight phases of development. Successfully fulfilling each developmental objective results in the sense of competence and a sound character. Feelings of inadequacy arise from failing to control the duties. The essay discusses the eight stages of Erick Erickson’s psychosocial theory.

Trust versus mistrust is the first stage of the theory. Erickson highlights that a child develops trust or mistrust based on how their caregivers treat them (Gross, 2020). A person will have no trouble trusting individuals in the future if trust is effectively created. Such people are also incapable of feeling insecure because they have mastered the art of relying on others, even when they are at their weakest. In contrast, a child develops mistrust and will have issues with trusting in the future if caregivers are inconsistence or unavailable emotionally, which will cultivate fear to trust.

Autonomy versus guilt and doubt, Erikson’s second stage, marks the onset of self-assurance and self-control. Children learn to walk, eat by themselves, and communicate (Gross, 2020). Learning the above skills enables children to acquire autonomy as they discover how to control their body. Children are vulnerable because feelings of frustration or inadequacy can result in embarrassing and doubtful thoughts. Poor self-esteem is likely to be a potential outcome of remorse and self-doubt.

Initiative versus guilt is a stage where children show some leadership qualities by using restraint while playing with their preschool colleagues. Children at this time create play scenarios and makeup stories depending on their surroundings. As a result, the initiative may or may not be effectively created during this play stage. If initiative does not grow, remorse and self-doubt set in, and the person never develops the capacity to lead people in the future.

The identity versus role confusion stage occurs between the ages of 12 and 18 throughout adolescence (Gross, 2020). Individuals attempt to define themselves at this point as they look for methods to become independent. This suggests that a person may create a positive identity and a sense of autonomous control over their own life with the help of positive reinforcement and encouragement. Contrarily, unfavorable feedback can produce confusion since people will be confused about their values and life goals.

Intimacy versus isolation is the sixth stage, during which one try to develop close, meaningful interactions with others around them. One starts disclosing more personal details regarding themselves to others. Most newly established relationships result in lifelong commitments based on trust and love (Gross, 2020). On the other hand, one could experience isolation if one avoids committing to or avoid relationships altogether.

Middle adulthood is the time when the generative versus stagnation period occurs. One feels the desire to start cultivating or constructing things that benefit other people, such as making an effort to contribute back to society by becoming engaged in community service and bringing up children according to the appropriate morals. When one achieves the goals, they get satisfaction and usefulness, but when one fail, they only become involved in a small number of community tasks.

The final stage is ego integrity versus despair which begins when a person is 65 years or older. At this stage, people envision themselves as having a great life. Their productivity also decreases as one ages, and they begin to live more like retirees (Gross, 2020). In this stage, success leads to the development of wisdom, allowing one to reflect on their life and feel complete. They do not fear death, and one has few expectations in life.

In conclusion, Erickson’s developmental stages theory emphasizes how many psychological changes occur throughout one’s life, from childhood to old age. Additionally, given the universality of the phases, every person can identify their own or other people’s psychological state at some period of life with the stated stages in order to better understand oneself or people around.


Gross, Y. (2020). Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development. The Wiley Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences: Models and Theories, 179-184. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Erickson's Theory of Growth Stages." September 7, 2023.

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PsychologyWriting. "Erickson's Theory of Growth Stages." September 7, 2023.