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Developmental Psychology

Psychology (Year 12)

Erikson's Stage Theory of Identity

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Jessica Pratt

Erikson's Stage Theory of Identity

Erik Erikson developed a stage theory of identity development through eight psychosocial stages, each corresponding to a psychosocial crisis. The term ‘psychosocial’ has two components - psycho meaning that the process takes place within the individual (internal), and social meaning that it means that it develops in interactions with others. Erikson believed that identity was constructed according to managing the crisis, where success leads to mastery, and failure leads to a sense of inadequacy.

There are three components of identity:

  • the self-concept refers to your own definition of yourself - requires inward reflection to define oneself.

  • an individual’s self-esteem is the positive judgement of personal wealth and value.

  • self-awareness refers to the ability to tune into your own feelings, thoughts and actions.

The theory has good face validity and therefore, many can relate to the stages proposed by Erikson. However, there is evidence for a lack of discrete stages and is vague in describing development. There is also no explicit explanation on how personality is impacted in each stage.


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