Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development 

Brief Overview
Printable Summary (PDF)

Previous cohorts of FSU students have developed these printable summaries and used them to prepare for test and papers.  We hope they’ll be of help to you too.


Stages, Levels, Phases, and Components of the Theory
  • Trust vs. Mistrust (Infants, 0 to 1 year)
    • The first stage of Erik Erikson’s theory centers around the infant’s basic needs being met by the parents.
  • Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt (Toddlers, 1 to 3 years)
    • As the child gains control over eliminative functions and motor abilities, they begin to explore their surroundings. The parents still provide a strong base of security from which the child can venture out to assert their will.
  • Initiative vs. Guilt (Preschool, 3 to 6 years)
    • Initiative adds to autonomy the quality of undertaking, planning and attacking a task for the sake of being active and on the move. The child is learning to master the world around them, learning basic skills and principles of physics.
  • Industry vs. Inferiority (Childhood, 6 to 12 years)
    • “Children at this age are becoming more aware of themselves as individuals.” They work hard at “being responsible, being good and doing it right.” They are now more reasonable to share and cooperate.
  • Identity vs. Role Confusion (Adolescents, 13 to 19 years)
    • The adolescent is newly concerned with how they appear to others.
  • Intimacy vs. Isolation (Young Adults, 20 to 40 years)
    • They become capable of forming intimate, reciprocal relationships (e.g. through close friendships or marriage) and willingly make the sacrifices and compromises that such relationships require.
  • Generativity vs. Stagnation (Middle Adulthood, 45 to 65 years)
    • Generativity is the concern of establishing and guiding the next generation. Socially-valued work and disciplines are expressions of generativity.
  • Ego Integrity vs. Despair (Seniors, 65 years onwards)
    • As we grow older and become senior citizens we tend to slow down our productivity and explore life as a retired person. It is during this time that we contemplate our accomplishments and are able to develop integrity if we see ourselves as leading a successful life.
Application of Theory to Practice

This section is designed to provide student affairs professionals, staff, and faculty members with tips and tools to apply theory to practice.

Annotations of Associated Literature
Original Citation
Additional Resources

This page was written and created by Ashlie Baty. The webpage is maintained by Amanda Peerce and Jesse Ford.  For information on the page, please contact Amanda Peerce at or Jesse Ford at