Basic principles of Erikson’s theory of development

Basic principles of Erikson’s theory of development


Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development is an eight-stage theory that explains how personality and identity creates, develops and changes throughout the whole lifespan. As every individual advances through life, from outset up until death, they stand up to diverse difficulties that can either be mastered or that can prompt challenges. While every stage expands on the encounters of prior stages, Erikson did not accept that mastering every stage was vital keeping in mind the end goal to proceed onward to the following. Like other stage scholars, Erikson accepted that these stages happened in a foreordained order, an idea known as the epigenetic principle. Erikson’s theory is based on three basic principles. They include Ego identity, Ego strength/quality and Conflict.

Ego Identity

Ego identity is primarily developed by human relationships, interaction and the way an individual eventually become more conscious of themselves as well as the surrounding and environment around them. According to Boyd (2014) ego identity undergoes constant change because of new information and experiences that individuals acquire in their daily interactions relationships with others. As individuals go through each new stage of development, they are encounter new challenges that can either help further enhance or hinder the development of their identity. Whenever psychologists discuss about identity, they are alluding to the majority of the beliefs, values, and ideals that help shape and aide an individual’s conduct and behavior. Formation of identity is a process that starts from childhood and turns out to be especially vital amid adulthood, yet Erikson was convinced that it is a process that proceeds all through life.

Ego strength/Quality

In reference to Boyd (2014), Erikson likewise believed that a feeling of ability and competence motivates individual’s behavior and actions. Every stage in Erikson’s theory is concerned with acquiring capability and abilities in a particular area of life. In the event that the stage is well taken care of, the individual will develop a feeling of mastery and authority, which is now and again alluded to as ego strength. On the off chance that the stage is not given the required adequate attention the individual will develop a feeling of inadequacy. According to Lee & Steve (2006) individuals with weak ego strength are more likely to take criticism the wrong way. To them, critics would be considered as being an interpersonal threat


Erikson was convinced that in every stage, individuals encounter a conflict that serves as a defining moment in development. In Erikson’s perspective, these conflicts are focused on either developing to a psychological quality or neglecting to build up that quality. Amid these circumstances, the potential for self-improvement is high, however so is the potential for failure. In the event that individuals effectively manage the conflict, they rise up out of the stage with necessary psychological strengths that will help them well for whatever remains of their life. In the event that they fail to effectively tackle these conflicts, they may not be able to develop the key skills required for a strong identity. According to Engler (2014) formation of an individual’s identity is largely depended on their adaptive abilities, abilities to resolve vital conflict as well as deal with stress.

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