Erik Erikson: Theory of Personality Development

By Brittany • Sep 18th, 2009 • Category: Intro to Psychology

There are many theories of personality developement in the psychology field, but none so popular as the Erikson model. Erik Erikson was a neo-Freudian who emphasized eight stages which spanned a person’s entire lifetime. Erikson proposed that personal development was directly impacted by social experiences. One of the main elements of his stage development theory is the development of the ego identity, or the conscious sense of self that is developed through social interaction. According to Erikson, the ego identity is constantly changing in response to experience and information acquired through daily interactions in society. In addition to ego identity, Erikson hypothesized that competence is in itself motivation for certain behaviors and actions. As such, each stage in Erikson’s theory is concerned with achieving competency. Successful completion of each stage leaves an individual with a sense of mastery referred to as ego strength or ego quality. Conflict in each stage is a central point of Erikson’s theory. Each developmental stage focuses on conflicts that must be successfully resolved to develop a particular psychological quality. In his theory, each stage builds upon the previous stages, and therefore, failure to master specific qualities will affect a person’s future development. Stage 1, referred to as Trust vs.Mistrust, is the most fundamental stage in life. The dependability and quality of the child’s caregiver is primarily responsible for successfully developing the ability to trust. Stage 2, Autonomy vs. Shame &Doubt, is the early childhood stage in which children learn self control of bodily functions. Success builds a greater sense of independence. Additionally, children learn to exhibit preferences regarding food and toys. Children who successfully navigate this stage feel secure and confident. Stage 3, also known as Initiative vs. Guilt, occurs during the preschool years. It is during this time that children begin to assert their own power and control over their world through social interaction. Success at this stage forms the basis for leadership qualities.

children approximately 5 to 11 years of age begin to take pride in their accomplishments and abilities. Those who fail will face the end of their lives with despair and feelings of bitternes . Despair. Stage 7. which occurs during adolescence. To successfully develop the capacity for intimacy. Those who are successful will enjoy a feeling of integrity. which is required to successfully achieve a feeling of industry. the conflict of Intimacy vs. Isolation. Generativity vs. or conversely feel inferior due to their failures. occurs during adulthood. also known as Integrity vs. It is a time in which individuals focus on careers and family. Industry vs. Stagnation. believing that their life has been valuable. must be resolved. young adults must learn to develop close. the final stage of Erikson’s Theory of Personality Development. occurs in old age. Confusion stage. Success results in a feelings of self worth that come from contributing to family and society. Stage 8. In early adulthood Stage 6.In Stage 4. is the Identity vs. It is the encouragement of parents and teachers that leads to the sense of pride. Stage 5. It is a time of exploring independence and developing a sense of self. A lack of encouragement and support will inevitably lead to feelings of inferiority. personal relationships with other people. Inferiority.

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