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Psychosocial Development

By: Chelsea Newsome

What is psychosocial development?

  • Personality development and social skills are learned from infancy through adulthood

  • Erick Erikson published this theory in the 1950's.

  • There are 8 stages: trust vs. mistrust, autonomy vs. shame, initiative vs. guilt, industry vs. inferiority, identity vs. role confusion, intimacy vs. isolation, generativity vs. stagnation, and ego integrity vs. despair.

Trust vs Mistrust

Stage 1: birth - 18 months Infant is completely dependant Goal: Meet the needs of the infant and be consistent Success in this stage will leave the infant feeling safe and secure. Virtue developed: Hope Failure in this stage can cause anxiety and mistrust.

Autonomy vs Shame

Stage 2: 18 months - 3 years Child’s physical skills improve while they begin to explore and become more independent. Goal: Help child to become more independent within a safe environment Success in this stage will leave the child with a sense of independence or freedom. Virtue developed: Will Failure in this stage can cause a child to feel shame and doubt their abilities to be independent.

Initiative vs. Guilt

Stage 3: 3 - 5 years Child learns to initiate social interactions and play activities with other children. Goals: Acknowledge the toddlers questions and allow them some freedom. Success in this stage will allow the toddler to have the power to act/take charge before others do. They become more independent. Virtue gained: Purpose Failure during this stage can cause a toddler to feel ignored and develop feelings of guilt.

Industry vs. Inferiority

Stage 4: 5 - 12 years Child learns to read and write and begin caring about what their peers think about them. They begin to take pride in their accomplishments. Goal: Encourage your child Success in this stage will allow the child to feel successful and develop the ability to do something efficiently. Virtue gained: Competence Failure during this stage can cause the child to have feelings of inferiority and low self-esteem.

Identity vs. Role Confusion

Stage 5: 12 - 18 yearsChild begins to discover who they are and search for a sense of identity. They begin to accept and learn about the differences between them and their peers/others. Goal: To discover who you are as an individual.Success in this stage will allow the teenager to become loyal and faithful to others and themselves. Virtue gained: Fidelity or “faithfulness”Failure in this stage can result in role confusion. They will be uncertain about themselves and where they fit into society.

Intimacy vs. Isolation

Stage 6: 18 - 40 years Young adults begin to develop intimate relationships.Goal: Build genuine and healthy relationships with others. Success in this stage will allow the young adult to form healthy relationships with their peers and others. Virtue gained: Love Failure in this stage can cause the young adult to feel alone and isolated. This can lead to depression.

Generativity vs. Stagnation

Stage 7: 40 - 65 years Adults start to give back to society. Goal: “Leave a mark” so you will be remembered for what you did to help give back to your society. Success in the stage causes a person to feel a sense of purpose or importance. Virtue gained: Care Failure in this stage can cause a person to feel useless and disconnected from their community.

Ego Integrity vs. Despair

Stage 8: 65 - death A person starts to reflect on their life and accomplishments. During these years they come to terms with knowing that death is unavoidable. Goal: Achieve balance between integrity and despair. Success in this stage gives them a sense of peace and blissfulness. Virtue gained: Wisdom Failure in this stage can lead to feelings of despair.


Aubrey Bailey, P. (2023, September 23). Understanding psychosocial development. Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/psychosocial-development-5220563#:~:text=Psychosocial%20development%20describes%20how%20a,eight%20stages%20of%20psychosocial%20development. Mcleod, S. (2023, October 16). Erik Erikson’s stages of Psychosocial Development. Simply Psychology. https://www.simplypsychology.org/erik-erikson.html#:~:text=Ego%20integrity%20versus%20despair%20is,as%20leading%20a%20successful%20life. Learning, L. (n.d.). Lifespan development. https://courses.lumenlearning.com/wm-lifespandevelopment/chapter/defining-human-development/#:~:text=Physical%20development%20involves%20growth%20and,%2C%20personality%2C%20and%20social%20relationships.