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Erik Erikson

By: Catherine Ramos


Erikson (Born June 15th, 1902) was a Germanborn developmental psychologist, and a


is most famous for his theory on social

development in human beings.


also created the term identity crisis.


Erikson died on May 12th, 1994 in Cape Cod,



Eriksons theory of personality outlined eight stages of

conflict throughout a persons life.

It was also called the Eight Stages of Development.

Favorable outcomes are known as virtues.

Must know both sides of conflict, or you dont have a

positive outcome through that stage.

For example, in trust vs. mistrust you must know both

extremes or you will end up trusting everyone (negative) or
not being able to trust anyone (negative).

Theory (cont.)

Like Freud, Erik Erikson believed in the importance of

early childhood. However, Erikson believed that
personality development happens over the entire course
of a persons life. In the early 1960s, Erikson proposed a
theory that describes eight distinct stages of
development. According to Erikson, in each stage people
face new challenges, and the stages outcome depends on
how people handle these challenges. Erikson named the
stages according to these possible outcomes.

Stage 1 Hope
Infant stage
Social environment caring, stable or erratic and threatening.


Trust vs. Mistrust - Does the

child believe its caregivers to be
reliable? Does he environment foster
hope or mistrust?

becomes trusting, hopeful in life or

frightened, insecure and mistrustful.

Stage 2 Will
Toddler stage
child supported and encouraged or, either unknowingly neglected or through malevolent intent
shamed and punished


vs. Shame and Doubt Does the

child believe him/herself to be
intrinsically worthy, good or intrinsically

the parents allow this the child will grow with

the interests, likewise if the parents are
restrictive the child will not blossom with their

Stage 3 Purpose
Child taught to do things for self and praised or child is not taught or criticized for failures


vs. Guilt- Does child believe

in own ability to plan and act or does
he/she feel it is wrong to function

learns a sense of accomplishment.

Otherwise, develops guilt about functioning

Stage 4 Competence
age 6 to puberty. As child enters larger social environment, compares self worth to others
(such as in a classroom).


vs. Inferiority - begins to recognize

major disparities in personal abilities
relative to other children and judges self
through attitudes of significant others, i.e.,

develops self-worth and learns

competency in concrete world or develops
sense of inferiority in relation to others.

Stage 5 Fidelity
Questioning of self: encouraged to explore and create self-identity or pushed to conform

Fidelity Identity vs. Role Confusion Erikson stated that this was the most
important stage, as it is the transition from childhood to adulthood. People
develop their own sense of individuality. This is also where he used the term
Identity Crisis because he stated, Throughout infancy and childhood, a
person forms many identifications. But the need for identity in youth is not
met by these. This is the pivotal stage in someone's life, because here you
either discover what your role is or you remain confused and become a nonproductive person.

Teenager either develops an identity of his/her own, or becomes confused and

easily led by others, unable to discern roles, loyalties, best interests, direction in

Stage 6 Love
Young adult
Lasting longer as young adults choose to stay in school and not settle but has typically been a stage
of forming significant relationships and settling down.


vs. Isolation through dating and

exploring relationship, develops capacity for
emotional connection and love or experiences
inadequacy or failure in relating to others

adult able to connect with significant other

and be intimate, establish committed relationship
or learns to isolate from others, becomes

Stage 7 Caring
Mid-life crisis: self-evaluation occurs, leading to positive new direction and sense of role
relationship in the life cycle


vs. Stagnation-through measuring

success and failures of life, adult is inspired to
helping others, next generation or experiences
crisis and is unable to relate to or guide next

becomes inspiration and guide for younger

generation or stagnates and is unable to relate to
next generations

Stage 8 Wisdom
Old age
Elder suffers decline due to aging, illness, possibility of dying, role displacement.


Integrity vs. Despair-reflecting on past,

elder reviews accomplishments, failures
and has crisis between acceptance and

is able to resolve previous and present challenges

and develops wisdom or is unable to resolve earlier
crises or face current illness or possibility of death and
despairs in face of aging challenges

The problem with Eriksons Theory

Eriksons theory is useful because it addresses both

personality stability and personality change. To some
degree, personality is stable, because childhood
experiences influence people even as adults. However,
personality also changes and develops over the life span as
people face new challenges. The problem with Eriksons
theory, as with many stage theories of development, is
that he describes only a typical pattern. The theory
doesnt acknowledge the many differences among


understanding and learning about Eriksons

theory, my field of study is Marketing I can use
this information, to understand what each age
group is looking for maybe in a product, person,
or thing. For example marketing for a book that
every school aged can relate to no matter what
background they came from.

Erik Erikson was certainly

an enlightened thinker
and provided a new
outlook on Freudian
thought. His theory is still
valid today and helps
many developmental