8 Stages of Human Development

Erik Erikson's Stages of Psychosocial Development

Psychologist Erik Erikson maintained that the human personality develops in a predetermined order through eight stages of psychosocial development, from infancy to adulthood. During each stage in your lifespan, it is possible to have a psychosocial crisis that could have a negative outcome for your personality development.

A psychosocial crisis involves a conflict between your psychological needs (psycho) with the needs of society (social). At each stage, there is a crisis or task that you need to resolve. According to the theory, the successful completion of each stage results in a healthy personality.

Failure to successfully complete a developmental stage can result in a reduced ability to complete further stages and therefore a more unhealthy sense of self. These stages, however, can be resolved successfully at a later time. Take a look at the stages below and sense into how you might need to develop at this time in your life.

1. Trust vs. Mistrust: Age 0 to 1-1/2

Trust vs. mistrust is the first stage in Erik Erikson's theory of psychosocial development. This stage begins at birth and continues to approximately 18 months of age. During this stage, as an infant, you needed stability and consistency of care.

If you received consistent, predictable and reliable care as an infant, you would have developed a sense of trust which you carry into your later relationships. If your basic needs were not consistently met in infancy, mistrust, suspicion, and anxiety would have developed.

If your care was inconsistent, unpredictable and unreliable, then your infant self likely developed a sense of mistrust, suspicion, and anxiety. A lack of care for you as an infant can manifest as a lack of confidence in the world around you or faith in your ability to influence events. Failing to acquire the virtue of hope will lead to the development of fear.

Virtue: Hope

Success in this stage will lead to the virtue of hope. By developing a sense of trust, your infant self develops hope that as difficulties arise, there is a real possibility that other people will be there as a source of support.