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Erikson's First 4 Stages of Development

Erikson's First 4 Stages of Development

Description:

This lesson will define, describe, and explain Erickson's Theory of Psychosocial Development. The first four stages, age at each stage, will be identified and explained.

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Tutorial

What's Covered

This lesson is going to cover the first four stages of the theory of psychosocial development by looking at:

  1. The Theory of Psychosocial Development
  2. Trust vs. Mistrust
  3. Autonomy vs. Shame or Doubt
  4. Initiative vs. Guilt
  5. Industry vs. Inferiority

1. The Theory of Psychosocial Development

The theory of psychosocial development was propounded by a man named Erik Erikson. He was a psychologist who was originally born in Germany, but later fled to the US after the Nazis took over. He continued his psychology studies there. Erikson is Neo-Freudian, meaning he follows the ideas of Sigmund Freud. The influence of the psychoanalytical approach and unconscious ideas can be seen in his theories.

Erickson’s theory of psychosocial development states that our personality develops in stages throughout life depending on our experiences. A person’s personality or psychology, develops as a result of social and external experiences. This theory looks at the entire course of a lifetime, whereas a lot of other theories might only look at early development.

Term to Know

    • Erickson's Theory of Psychosocial Development
    • Individuals face psychosocial dilemmas faced throughout the lifetime as one manages internal and external demands.

Erikson provided eight stages of psychosocial development. When discussing stages of life in this way, it is important to remember that there are no absolutes. Different people develop in different ways. If a person doesn't necessarily fall within an exact category that might not mean that they're dysfunctional in any kind of way.

Each one of these stages that Erikson developed has two different forces occurring:

  • The first is what he called the psychosocial dilemma. This is a conflict that's occurring between multiple personal impulses and the social world around them; these conflicts lead to the development or lack thereof.
  • The second force is a desire for mastery or to be competent in something.

2. Trust vs. Mistrust

The first stage in the theory of psychosocial development occurs within the first year of life, from zero to one year of age. This is the trust vs. mistrust stage. During this stage, the child is very young and dependent on their caretakers. They need to receive reliable and sufficient care. They need to be fed enough regularly, they need to be held, and they need to feel secure.

Term to Know

    • Trust vs. Mistrust (0-2 years)
    • Infants either gain trust in a predictable, loving, caring environment or mistrust from your parent/caregiver.

Lack of this security leads to mistrust, and this can have a later impact on people's lives. People that developed more of that mistrust in the conflict, might later have feelings of insecurity or suspicion. In addition, they might have certain social or emotional problems with relating to others.


3. Autonomy vs. Shame or Doubt

The second stage, from one year of age to three years, is autonomy vs. shame or doubt. This is when a child is developing a sense of personal control, either over their body or their environment. During this time, activities like toilet training are really important, because it's when children are starting to understand the feeling of independence that they're developing.

Term to Know

  • Autonomy vs. Shame/Doubt (2-3 years)
  • Children must develop sense of independence, explore their environment, be able to have free choice If this independence is not given, the child will feel shame and doubt (question their own independence).

Reactions by the parent towards the personal choices or control that the child has can have an adverse effect. When accidents like spilling or falling occur or when children are making personal choices (e.g., like selecting a toy), their parent’s reactions can build autonomy or instill shame or doubt. A person that develops more autonomy during this stage generally develops feelings of confidence within themselves, whereas a child that feels more shame or doubt at this stage might develop feeling more shameful.


4. Initiative vs. Guilt

The third stage, from three to five years of age, is the stage of initiative versus guilt. This is when the child is becoming more independent from the parents and they start to interact with others and explore their environment more. This is also when they start to play independently. It is important at this stage that a parent gives space to explore.

Term to Know

  • Initiative vs. Guilt (3-5 years)
  • Child is more assertive, curious, and takes more initiative. Guilt is developed if the child is punished for initiative.

If the parent starts to overly criticize or reprimand the child for their choices, it can lead to feelings of guilt in the child. A child that takes more initiative at this stage generally, later in life, starts to feel more capable. They feel like they're able to do things better on their own. They are more imaginative, and they also develop more as leaders. The children that receive more guilt at this stage become more guilty people, they have more self-doubt, and lack initiative. They don't do things on their own, necessarily.


5. Industry vs. Inferiority

The next stage, from six to twelve years of age, is the industry versus inferiority stage. This coincides with when the child first enters school and they start to develop new skills. They learn how to be productive and to do activities that are valued by their society. It's at this stage that the child starts to feel more of a sense of pride or accomplishment at the things that they're doing.

Term to Know

  • Industry vs. Inferiority (6-12 years)
  • Kids deal with new school and social demands. Success leads to competence and failure leads to inferiority.

They can either receive encouragement to continue doing those things or criticism. When a child is encouraged at this period, they tend to feel more competent; they have more self-esteem and self-worth as a result of that. Whereas, if they receive more criticism in regards to what they were doing, they might experience more self-doubt, or they might feel inadequate as a person.


Summary

The theory of psychosocial development was propounded by Erik Erikson. He stated that our personality develops over stages throughout our life. Each stage includes a psychosocial dilemma and a desire for mastery. 

The first stage is trust vs. mistrust. It occurs during the first year of life. The outcome of this stage is dependent on how secure a child feels in their environment. The next stage is autonomy vs. shame or doubt, and occurs between one to three years of age. This is where a child develops a sense of personal control and a feeling of independence. Initiative vs. guilt is the third stage, and takes place from three to five years of age. This is when the child is becoming more independence and begins to explore their environment. The next stage is the industry vs. inferiority stage that occurs between six to twelve years of age. This is when a child enters school and can begin to develop a sense of competence.

Keep up the learning and have a great day!

Source: This work is adapted from Sophia author Erick Taggart.

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Erickson's Theory of Psychosocial Development

    Individuals face psychosocial dilemmas faced throughout the lifetime as one manages internal and external demands.

  • Trust vs. Mistrust (0-2 years)

    Infants either gain trust in a predictable, loving, caring environment or mistrust from your parent/caregiver.

  • Autonomy vs. Shame/Doubt (2-3 years)

    Children must develop sense of independence, explore their environment, be able to have free choice If this independence is not given, the child will feel shame and doubt (question their own independence).

  • Initiative vs. Guilt (3-5 years)

    Child is more assertive, curious, and takes more initiative. Guilt is developed if the child is punished for initiative.

  • Industry vs. Inferiority (6-12 years)

    Kids deal with new school and social demands. Success leads to competence and failure leads to inferiority.