Erickson’s View of Social Development Edwin D. Bell Winston-Salem State University
Why is Psychosocial Theory Important to Teachers? As children develop cognitively, they also develop self-concept and ways of interacting with others. Teachers need to understand the stages of development so that they can successfully interact, motivate, and teach children.
Psychosocial Theory Erik Erickson developed a theory of personal and social development that was an adaptation of the developmental theories of Sigmund Freud. His work is called psychosocial because it relates the principles of psychology, i.e., individual, and social development. He conceptualized eight stages of development.
Stage I: Birth to 18 Months Psychosocial crisis – trust vs. mistrust Significant relationship – maternal person Psychosocial emphasis – to get and to give in return
Stage II: 18 Months to 3 Years Psychosocial crisis – autonomy vs. doubt Significant relationship – parental person Psychosocial emphasis – to hold on; to let go
Stage III: 3 to 6 Years Psychosocial crisis – initiative vs. guilt Significant relationship – basic family Psychosocial emphasis – to make (=go after); to “make like” (playing)
Stage IV: 6 to 12 Years Psychosocial crisis – industry vs. inferiority Significant relationship – neighborhood, school Psychosocial emphasis – to make things; to make things together
Stage V: 12 to 18 Years Psychosocial crisis – identity vs. role confusion Significant relationship – peer groups and models of leadership Psychosocial emphasis – to be oneself (or not to be); to share being oneself
Stage VI: Young Adulthood Psychosocial crisis – intimacy vs. isolation Significant relationship – partners in friendship, sex, competition, cooperation Psychosocial emphasis – to lose and find oneself in another
Stage VII: Middle Adulthood Psychosocial crisis – generativity vs. self- absorption Significant relationship – divided labor and shared household Psychosocial emphasis – to take care of
Stage VIII: Late Adulthood Psychosocial crisis – integrity vs. despair Significant relationship – “mankind”, “my kind” Psychosocial emphasis – to be, through having been; to face not being
Implications and criticisms Not all people experience Erickson’s crises to the same degree or at the same time Erickson’s theory emphasizes the role of the environment in causing the crises and resolving them School plays a key role in that environment in stages IV and V. His theory has been criticized because it does not address how or why people progress from one stage to another
Review and Synthesis Compare Erickson’s eight stages of psychosocial development with Piaget’s four stages of cognitive development on a chart. Which of Erickson’s stages pertain to elementary and middle school? How can teachers help students resolve these crises successfully?