Erikson's Psychosocial Stages Summary Chart

Stages of Psychosocial Development

Three generations of development
Hero Images / Getty Images

Erik Erikson described development that occurs throughout the lifespan. His theory stressed the important of social and emotional development. At each stage, people are faced with a developmental crisis that can either lead to growth or potential problems.

Learn more in this chart summarizing Erikson's stages of psychosocial development.

Stage: Infancy (birth to 18 months)

Basic Conflict: Trust vs. Mistrust

Important Events: Feeding

Outcome: During the first stage of psychosocial development, children develop a sense of trust when caregivers provide reliability, care, and affection. A lack of this will lead to mistrust.

Stage: Early Childhood (2 to 3 years)

Basic Conflict: Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt

Important Events: Toilet Training

Outcome: Children need to develop a sense of personal control over physical skills and a sense of independence. Potty training plays an important role in helping children develop this sense of autonomy. Children who struggle and who are shamed for their accidents may be left without a sense of personal control. Success during this stage of psychosocial development leads to feelings of autonomy, failure results in feelings of shame and doubt.

Stage: Preschool (3 to 5 years)

Basic Conflict: Initiative vs. Guilt

Important Events: Exploration

Outcome: Children need to begin asserting control and power over the environment. Success in this stage leads to a sense of purpose. Children who try to exert too much power experience disapproval, resulting in a sense of guilt.

Stage: School Age (6 to 11 years)

Basic Conflict: Industry vs. Inferiority

Important Events: School

Outcome: Children need to cope with new social and academic demands. Success leads to a sense of competence, while failure results in feelings of inferiority.

Stage: Adolescence (12 to 18 years)

Basic Conflict: Identity vs. Role Confusion

Important Events: Social Relationships

Outcome: Teens need to develop a sense of self and personal identity. Success leads to an ability to stay true to yourself, while failure leads to role confusion and a weak sense of self.

Stage: Young Adulthood (19 to 40 years)

Basic Conflict: Intimacy vs. Isolation

Important Events: Relationships

Outcome: Young adults need to form intimate, loving relationships with other people. Success leads to strong relationships, while failure results in loneliness and isolation.

Stage: Middle Adulthood (40 to 65 years)

Basic Conflict: Generativity vs. Stagnation

Important Events: Work and Parenthood

Outcome: Adults need to create or nurture things that will outlast them, often by having children or creating a positive change that benefits other people. Success leads to feelings of usefulness and accomplishment, while failure results in shallow involvement in the world.

Stage: Maturity(65 to death)

Basic Conflict: Ego Integrity vs. Despair

Important Events: Reflection on life

Outcome: Erikson's theory differed from many others because it addressed development throughout the entire lifespan, including old age. Older adults need to look back on life and feel a sense of fulfillment. Success at this stage leads to feelings of wisdom, while failure results in regret, bitterness, and despair. At this stage, people reflect back on the events of their lives and take stock. Those who look back on a life they feel was well-lived will feel satisfied and ready to face the end of their lives with a sense of peace. Those who look back and only feel regret will instead feel fearful that their lives will end without accomplishing the things they feel they should have.

More Resources:

Learn more about psychosocial theories and Erik Erikson in the following articles:

  • Biography of Erik Erikson
    Erik Erikson's stage theory of psychosocial development contributed to our understanding of personality development throughout the lifespan. Learn more about his life, career, and how early experiences led to his interest in identity

Learn more about other theories of personality in the following articles:

  • Psychosexual Development
    Freud's stages of psychosexual development are the best-known personality theories, but also one of the most controversial. Learn more about the psychosexual stages of development.
  • Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
    Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs emphasizes important self-actualization and is often pictured as a pyramid. Learn more about the five levels of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
  • Personality Psychology Study Guide
    Personality psychology seeks to understand and describe developing personality. This study guide offers an overview, timeline, theories, important figures, and study questions about personality.

    Continue Reading