During the stage of each person, problems or conflicts arise in different areas, some more complex than others. As we age, our perspective, aspirations, and attitudes change.

It also changes the way we look at others and the society around us. Why does it happen? Erik Erikson tried to answer this question when he published his greatest work: the theory of psychosocial development, which is part of thetheories of human development.

In the following article, we will explain what it is, how it is characterized and the different stages that the individual goes through, described by Erikson.

What is psychosocial development?

The theory of psychosocial development is anextensive work proposed by Erik Erikson(1), a psychologist who studied withSigmund Freud(2) in the area ofpsychoanalysis. Later he specialized in the area of child psychoanalysis.

Erik took Freud’s psychosexual theory and adapted it to create his own theory. Erik emphasized the importance of the individual’s ‘I‘ or ‘ego’ and that of external factors, in developing facets of the individual’s psychosocial and emotional identity.

It also expanded on the importance of the individual’s psychosexual development. Unlike Freud, however, Erik concluded that while important, it was not the primaryor sole focus when assessinga person’s cognitive and physical growth.

What are the characteristics of psychosocial development?

The creation and deepening of this theory took Erik decades of study and analysis. Therefore, it is not surprising that it is adeep and complex subject. However, we will show you some of the most outstanding featuresof the theory, to start your familiarization with it:

1. It is made up of several vital stages

According to Erik, during each of the growth stages of the individual (infancy, childhood, adulthood and old age), there are phases where the development of certain aspects of the person’s psychosocial identity begins. begins.

Note: These are not necessarily confined to a specific age, but occur within these stages or ages . For some, the beginning of a new stage begins earlier than others.

2. The relationship of the person with the environment is based on their personality

In this section, Erik emphasized the the importance of the importance of the influences of the environment that surrounds the individual and how both interact, which is also part of Sociocultural Learning .

You should know: One of the One of the aspects that characterizes psychosocial development is the importance of society, since it is the is the environment in which the individual develops ((here is the term psychosocial ), of cultural institutions (such as religion) and upbringing by parents.

All these contribute to the formation of ideal prototypes , , especially during childhood, generated by the influence of parents, society and significant adults.

3. Social interaction develops the conscience of the individual

The theory affirms that the that the way in which the individual interacts with the environment that surrounds him depends on whether or not he has overcome the stages he has faced during his growth.

That is, , society and its members have a direct effect on the social learning of the person , regardless of their age. This influence, in turn, shapes the individual’s thoughts, , emotions, , and behavior.

4. Each stage is determined by conflicts

Within each stage, there are dialectical crises . They are the conflicts or goals that must be overcome to achieve the development of the the personality and full behavior of the individual.

The result of these conflicts generate qualitative changes , either positive (syntonic) or negative (dystonic). That is, , the the individual can develop abilities skills that favor their growth, as that favor its growth, as well as weaknesses that hinder the development of their abilities (fear, insecurities, withdrawal, loneliness…)

To highlight: These personality changes in the person, regardless of their nature, modify the interaction of the human being with society.

What are the stages of psychosocial development?

Traditionally, Erik wrote about eight stages that occur throughout an individual’s life , beginning at birth and culminating when the person dies. He called them psychosocial stages.

Next, we will mention and explain each of the stages, their importance and what are the the positive or negative changes that it can cause in the individual:

1. Trust vs mistrust

It corresponds to the first stage, to the first stage, from birth to the first year or the first eighteen months of life tag. At this level, the infant acquires basic trust. How does he get it?

It occurs when the the mother meets the basic needs of the infant , , such as food, attention and affection. When they are present, an inner certainty is generated in the the Infant’sPsyche , due to the physical and mental well-being provided .

Important: A positive or syntonic resolution of this stage is the the acquisition of hope , which nourishes the inner confidence of the child and provides meaning and meaning to his existence. 

On the other hand, a negative or inadequate resolution generates distrust . When children’s basic needs are not met, feelings of abandonment, isolation and confusion are generated.

2. Autonomy vs shame and doubt

It corresponds to the stage of childhood between two and three years of age . The infant acquires a sense of autonomy , characterized by three features: muscular maturation (the child becomes aware of his own limbs to accomplish tasks).

Second, hygienic learning . The infant understands that he cannot fulfill her needs at any time or place, but that there are specific moments for it.

Third, oral learning . The infant acquires a rudimentary verbal expression of his thoughts and his desires. Thus, the child grows aware of the body and its functions, allowing verbal and physical autonomy.

Note: The meaning of heteronymy is also learned , which is the ability to receive help from others (in this case, from parents). When the child effectively acquires these skills, the will to learn, discern and know is fostered.  ,

 3. Initiative vs. guilt

The stage begins when the child reaches preschool age, between 3 and 5 years of age tag. The sexual learning of children begins, where they acquire a gender identity and abasic notion of the respective social functions of each gender.

You should know: In other words, the psychosexual, cognitive and affective learningof the child is achieved. When it is satisfactorily fulfilled, a moral conscience is developed, built from theprinciples and valuesinstilled by their parents and other adults.,

4. Productivity vs inferiority

Also known as industriousness vs inferiority. This fourth phasebegins in the school age of the child, between 5-6 to 11-13 years. Interest in the Interest in the opposite sex decreases and interest in the same-sex group increases.

To highlight: It is important to emphasize the importance of educational institutions at this stage tag. During these critical years, they must foster and support autonomy, freedom, creativity, and fidelity to learning.

5. Identity vs. identity diffusion

It occurs between 12-13 to 20 years. Sexual interest and the formation of a sexual identity are awakened and, and, therefore, an integration of the psychosocial and psychosexual facet occurs.

At this stage, adolescents begin to ask themselves ” who am I ?” tag. They evaluate past experiences, expectations, ambitions and aspirations to establish a set of values and ideals, necessary to forge their own identity.

Note: They also develop psychosexual identities, where Feelings of trust and loyaltytowards another person are born in the field of love. Cultural or religious identities develop, based on spiritual experiences.

6. Privacy vs isolation

It occurs from 20 to 30 years of age. In this stage,,an accentuation of the psychosexual development of the person occurs , who looks for another to form a healthy sexual relationship.

7. Productivity vs stagnation

This period includes the age age between 30 and 50 years of age tag. It is characterized by the generativity of the person, that is, the desire to care for, guide and provide all possible tools to future generations, ensuring their survival and development .

The individual acquires the capacity for productivity and creativity . The first is the creation of new technologies or tools so that they can be used by the next generation. The second seeks the formation and creation of new ideas that also benefit future generations.

Important: The individual develops the virtues of love and care , not only for his own family, but also for the children of others and for society in general.,

8. Integrity of self vs despair

In this last stage, present from the age of 50, integrity is sought . It could be described as the amalgamation or union of all those syntonic or dystonic forces that the individual acquires during the previous stages.

To highlight: The individual accepts how he is, his history, psychosocial development and other facets of his life. He questions and judges the decisions he has made, whether they were the right ones or not, what he could have done better and many more questions.

In short, wisdom is gained . It is the accumulation of acquired knowledge, its interpretation, sound and mature judgment, how to see, look at and remember past experiences and how to transmit knowledge to future generations.

What is the importance of psychosocial development?

Erikson’s theory profoundly influenced various areas of study , such as gerontology (3) personality , personality development, how the individual acquires and shapes their personality and social identity.

In summary, Erikson’s theory was of great importance for social and scientific studies , understanding why certain individuals act in a certain way and others do not. What are the conflicts or dilemmas that the person is facing at any given time?

Note: By answering this question, the research teams are able to to formulate answers to these conflicts , how to promote the growth of the , how to promote the growth of the person during their critical stage and avoid the formation of disorders, such as anxiety or depression .

Key Findings

  • Psychosocial development constitutes the facets of thepsychosocial and emotional identity of the individual.
  • Psychosocial development is made up of several stages, where the development of certain aspects of the psychosocial identity of the person begins.
  • One of the One of the aspects that characterizes psychosocial development is the importance of society, since it is the environment in which the individual develops.
  • The way in which the individual interacts with the environment that surrounds him depends on the overcoming or not of the stages in psychosocial development.
  • The theory of psychosocial development was of great importance, since it helped to Understandwhy certain individuals act in a certain way and others do not.

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