• 8 main stages of psychosocial development.
  • 8 stages covering all lifespan from infancy to death.
  • Healthy development requires experiences all 8 stages.
  • Each stage builds upon the successful completion of earlier stages.
  • Each stage: comes with certain challenges- if unsolved it might return as pathology in the future.



  • Next stage can be reached regardless of solving the challenge of previous stage
  • Outcome of one stage can change and modified by later life-experiences
  • Outcome: depends on biological factors & sociocultural factors
  • Each stage characterised by a psychosocial crisis of 2 conflicting forces (biological & psychosocial)
  • If overcoming the challenge successful- corresponding virtue (e.g. hope, love)

The experiences of each stage influences the value you get out from the conflict/crisis that occurred in the previous stage.


  • 0-23 months
  • Virtue: Hope
  • Psychosocial crisis: Basic trust vs mistrust
  • Significant relationship: Mother
  • Existential question: Can I trust the world?

Feeding, relying on mum catering (hope and trust are developed). If mum neglects the baby or mistreats the baby these values are not formed. This forms later on as a bigger issue as they have a harder time gaining there peoples trust.


  • 2-4 Years
  • Virtue: Will/Curiosity
  • Psychosocial crisis: Autonomy vs shame and doubt
  • Significant relationship: Parent
  • Existential question: Is it okay to be me?
  • Areas: Toilet training, clothing themselves

Children this age are very adamant of what they want and when they want to do something. Example: If you have a child that relieves themselves in the middle of the room? The response of the child impacts how they view shame and doubt but also in dependancy of what is right and okay instead of what is wrong and being reassured of their own actions. Negative disciplinary can shut down self decision making and creativity and instead encourage obediences and dependancy to the parent. If they are not solving the conflict they are creating a lot of self doubt and shame, resulting that they need guidance and can not think very independently.

I worked at a children’s daycare for 4 years, with children’s within this age bracket (2-4 years old), any chance they get to choose what they get to come to school in or play dress up in is an exciting situation of control they have over choices that involve them and a way of expressing themselves. But as soon as a parent questions their choice or even another teacher they immediately start to doubt they choices, only a few children will continue to stand by their outfit choice once a parent or teacher has said something that is not positive. If their clothing choice is a reflection of their own expression and personality, yet it is receiving questionable or negative feedback instead of positive reassurance and encouragement I understand how self doubt and dependancy can occur.


  • 4-5 Years
  • Virtue: Purpose
  • Psychosocial crisis: Initiative vs guilt
  • Significant relationship: Family
  • Existential question: Is it okay for me to do, move and act?
  • Areas: Exploring, using tools, making art

Motor skills have formed and interests like drawing and exploring outside are more dominant. If the parents are not reassuring that their child’s exploring is okay or positive then they create self doubt. Trying news things is important for them to form their own interests. Denying their choice means that they will feel guilty towards their own wants being not the same as the parent or adult. Experiencing real things instead of fake ‘kids versions’ Example: Comparing that their own plastic knife can not cut an apple the same way or as successfully as their parent’s/adult’s real knife cutting an apple will make the child think they are not good enough for something real and that their parents are superior as they are successful to cut the apple.


  • 5-12 years
  • Virtue: Competence
  • Psychosocial crisis: Industry vs Inferiority
  • Significant relationship: Neighbours, school peers
  • Existential question: Can I make it in the world of people and things?
  • Areas: Academic, sports.

Social relationships are widen, not just family who give them nurture. School gives opportunities for friendship, finding dislike of others and people disliking you. More consequences to things, if you say something mean they don not necessarily have to forgive you or contiue to be around you (like families). Also experiences of competition may be for the first time within school and sports, among friends and class mates. Who is the smartest? Who is the tallest? Who is the most athletic? Who is getting recognised by others for having these traits?


  • 13 – 19 Years
  • Virtue: Fidelity
  • Psychosocial crisis: Identity vs Role Confusion
  • Significant relationship: Peers, Role Models
  • Existential question: Who am I? Who can I be?
  • Areas: Social Relationships

Constantly changing and trying out different roles. The bitchy one, the helpful one, etc or the gothic phase, sporty phase, popular phase. Trying to identify in a group. Finding friends with similar interest as yours. At first (13-14) have the quantity of friends being popular and everyone liking you is important. Then later (17-18) having a few people really close and stable relationships develop. This is the result of prioritising what peers think and what they think of you, instead of your parents like the previous stages. This is conflicting issue. This is the stage that at the end of it, the person no longer requires the parent, they would not die without their parent’s guidance, they have become more self efficient.


  • 20 -39 Years
  • Virtue: Love
  • Psychosocial crisis: Friend, partners
  • Significant relationship: Peers, Role Models
  • Existential question: Can I love?
  • Areas: Romantic changes

Craving love and having people outside of family love them and giving them attention. Without this the crisis of can I be loved? “Im running out of time” thinking. This can be different between genders, women may feel more urgency to find love and receive love. Men may have more urgency to receive attention. The media and pre conceived society ideals influence this urgency. Males need to have quantity of romantic peers and attention and females need to have quality of romantic love not lust.


  • 40-64 years
  • Virtue: Care
  • Psychosocial crisis: Generatively vs. stagnation
  • Significant relationship: Household, workmates
  • Existential question: Can I make my life count?
  • Areas: Work, Parenthood

The need of creating or achieving something that concretes your life. Leaving something forever behind after you die. Big change can occur, with whatever is going to be the push you and give you satisfaction that you are being something bigger. Self growth and achievement being the biggest motivator


  • 65 years
  • Virtue: Wisdom
  • Psychosocial crisis: Ego integrity vs. despair
  • Significant relationship: Mankind
  • Existential question: Is it okay to have been me?
  • Areas: Reflection on life

Self reflection on what their life has been. Are they happy with the way things turned out? Looking back and reflecting on how they loved and what they achieved, are they satisfied or regretful? Are the expected by society? Is society proud of what they have done? No longer craving the approval of family and peers, but society as a whole.

Marginalised years change overtime, in each stage. In the Shakespearean era Juliet was 12/13 when already experiencing the crisis of love and intimacy over, family and what her parents regards. The psychosocial development stage of early adulthood was already taking place yet she was approximately 7 years younger then the age bracket of that stage. (someone of that age today would be in the school age or adolescence stage of psychosocial development).

Dr Rita Csako’s example of a psychosocial development stage: Song 22, by Lily Allen

” It describes a female character who’s all washed up at 30…It’s more about girls that haven’t figured out what they want to do with themselves. Especially really pretty girls. They can rely on their looks to an extent: people will pay for their dinners and drinks and they don’t really have to think. And then suddenly it hits them that they’re not doing anything with their lives and it’s too late. And, yes, it’s about a specific person. Most of my songs start like that and then become more general.”  (L.Allen, 2008)

Lily Allen expressing that this character is no longer 22, she is at the end of her ‘prime’ and still has not answered ‘Can I be loved?’, craving love and attention but seen as she is running out of time. She is not at the beginning of the early adulthood stage of er life anymore, yet she feels like she has not made enough progress.

Compared to: Song 22, by Taylor Swift

” I like all the possibilities of how you’re still learning, but you know enough. You still know nothing, but you know that you know nothing. You’re old enough to start planning your life, but you’re young enough to know there are so many unanswered questions. That brings about a carefree feeling that is sort of based on in-decision and fear and at the same time letting loose. Being 22 has taught me so much”  (T.Swift, 2012)

This songs expresses someone that is 22 and is a the beginning of the early adulthood psychosocial development stage. The is a uncertainty that is to be celebrated, there is no rush or push to progress in life yet. The question of ‘Can I loved?’ is still present but not the same craving or priority compared to Lily Allen’s song where the women is much older and has an urgency to find the answer to love and progress.



Gallo, Phill. “Taylor Swift Q&A: The Risks of ‘Red’ and The Joys of Being 22.” Billboard. N.p., 19 Oct. 2012. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.

Sawyer, Miranda. “2008 review: Comeback of the year.” The Observer. Guardian News and Media, 06 Dec. 2008. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.


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