Erik Erickson’s Developmental Stages

baby Erik Erickson’s Developmental Stages

cognitive developmental theories
1) Trust vs Mistrust: Infancy (birth – 1 year)

learns to trust others
trust achieved as caregiver meets needs
assurance that caregiver will return when disappears from site (achieved when caregiver is able to move out of sight without undo distress)
the “sensorimotor” phase connecting with the world through touch, taste etc.
If needs not met we may end up with a deep-seated feeling of worthlessness and a mistrust of the world in general. 

2) Autonomy vs Shame and Doubt: Toddler (1-3 years)

begins to learn to become independent
self-confidence develops
Independence achieved through accomplishment of self care activities (walking, feeding, toileting)
Inability to accomplish independence creates feelings of shame and self doubt
Autonomy developed through choice making (controlling own behavior)
3) Initiative vs guilt: Pre-school age child (3-6years)toddler

learns to initiate own activities
accomplishment in this teaches child to seek challenges later in life
use of fantasy and imagination to explore environment
explores limits
encountering limits placed on behavior
limits may cause conflict and lead to frustration and guilt
4) Industry vs Inferiority: middle childhood (6-11 years)

develops competence in physical, cognitive and social skills
inability to learn new skills may result in sense of inadequacy and inferiority
success in skill acquisition may lead to positive outlook on work in adulthood
5) Identity vs role confusion: adolescent (12-18 years)
experiment with roles
form unique identity
sense of self identity crucial to later life decisions such as marriage and career choice
inability to solidify sense of identity results in inability to form meaningful attachments and may result in isolation
6) Intimacy vs Isolation: young adult (18-35 years)

form close personal relationships (friends, romantic partners)
community involvement
time to start a family

7) Generativity vs self absorption and stagnation: middle adult (35-65 years)couple1portrait600
assistance and mentoring younger individuals, succeeding generations
ability to expand one’s own personal and social involvement critical to fulfillment
ability to see beyond own needs
accomplishment of societal needs
dissatisfaction with own achievements leads to self-absorption and stagnation

8) Integrity vs Despair: Older adult (65-death)
reflection on life accomplishments
satisfaction or dissatisfaction
physical and social losses may result in status and functional loss (retirment, illness)
Integrity: fulfillment achienved through meaningful sense of contribution to society, sense of purpose and meaning to life
Dispair: unfulfilling experiences, perceived failures, lack of contribution to societal networks


Perry, A, G, Potter, P, A, Ross-Kerr, J, C and Wood, M, J. (2006). Canadian fundamentals of nursing (3rd ed.). Toronto: Elselvier.


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