Factors in Development

Factors in Development Video

Hi, and welcome to this video on the psychological stages of development!

Erik Erikson was a German psychoanalyst who developed a theory of psychological development that is still widely taught today, especially in nursing school as part of human growth and development. Erikson’s theory places two virtues on either side of each other and depending on the person’s experiences they can come out of the stage on either side of the virtue. Erikson’s theory relied on parents, society, and environmental factors to shape a person’s development.

Erikson’s eight stages of psychological development include:

  • Trust vs. Mistrust Factors in Development
  • Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt
  • Initiative vs. Guilt
  • Industry vs. Inferiority
  • Identity vs. Role Confusion
  • Intimacy vs. Isolation
  • Generativity vs. Stagnation
  • Ego Integrity vs. Despair

Trust vs. Mistrust

The first stage, trust vs. mistrust, is theorized to be from birth to approximately eighteen months old. If a baby’s needs are met by their caregivers at this stage, they will come out of this period with a sense of trust, and a sense of hope as they grow into adulthood that everything will work out all right. On the other hand, if their needs are not met during this stage it can cause the child as they grow into adulthood to not trust people and to potentially have anxiety and insecurities.


Autonomy vs. shame and doubt follows at approximately eighteen months to three years of age. During this time, the child is recognizing separation from the primary caregivers and is able to start doing some things for themselves. They may start feeding and dressing themselves, as well as toileting themselves. This new-found autonomy helps build self-esteem. This stage requires patience on the part of the caregivers and is marked by a sense of personal control as a separate entity from the caregiver. The successful culmination of this stage is a sense of self-esteem.

Initiative vs. Guilt

Initiative vs. guilt, which happens from three to five years of age, is the stage where a child begins exploring their world more. This stage is marked by creativity and imagination; the child may pretend to be characters they see in the adult world. They like to try new things, such as learning to cooperate with others to achieve common goals. In this stage, children learn to perform more tasks and gain an understanding of social approval. The parent or caregiver can effectively help the child by allowing them to explore within limits. However, if the parents are over-controlling or very strict, this may cause the child to not want to explore and instead develop a sense of guilt. This can hinder creativity and cause a negative social effect. Success at this stage of development will lead to the virtue of purpose, which is demonstrated by how the children make decisions, come up with new ideas, as well as work and play with others.

Industry vs. Inferiority

Industry vs. inferiority typically happens from six years of age to twelve or thirteen. The child is learning many new skills and tasks and is starting to build a social network. They recognize what they can do and what their peers can do and they make comparisons. Their parents or guardians are no longer their only source of belonging. If the child is able to navigate this stage successfully, they will gain a sense of competence.

Identity vs. Role Confusion

Identity vs. role confusion is the stage of Erikson’s psychological theory where the child is moving from childhood to adolescent years of thirteen to twenty-one, though some say this stage ends at the age of eighteen. This marks the stage of transitioning to adulthood. In this stage, the adolescent is learning who they are in the world and asking the big questions, like what is their purpose. While they are forming their identity, their body is going through physical changes. Soon, they start thinking about occupations in life, roles in life, their sexual role, and how they fit and don’t fit into society. The adolescent can come out of this stage with what Erikson termed a sense of fidelity. In other words, the person can emerge with a sense of self-esteem and self-confidence when associating with their peers, having a developed knowledge of their values and beliefs.

Intimacy vs. Isolation

Intimacy vs Isolation happens during young adulthood, eighteen to thirty-five or twenty-one to thirty-nine. This is the stage marked by significant relationships, both with friends and with one special person. This is the stage where young adults may think about finding that one significant other and “settling down”. If navigated successfully, a person learns to give love physically and emotionally, and if severe rejection occurs or some other trauma associated with the primary relationship, this can cause a sense of isolation, with the person withdrawing from relationships and society. This stage is marked by personal fulfillment in giving and receiving love.

Generativity vs. Stagnation

Generativity vs stagnation, the seventh of Erikson’s stages, happens from age forty to sixty-five. People in this stage want to be productive, leave a legacy, and contribute to society in a positive changing way. Some major milestones of this stage may be children leaving home or changing career paths. Some people may struggle with a mid-life crisis and search for meaning at this time of life. Left unsettled, this may cause stagnation and a disinterest in the people and world around them, but if successfully resolved, people develop the virtue of care, offering unconditional support to their children and the other people in their life.

Integrity vs. Despair

Integrity vs Despair is the last stage of life, taking place from around fifty-five or sixty-five until death. At this stage, the person is usually retired and reflecting on their past life and contributions. If they believe they were successful and navigated life well without regrets they will achieve a sense of contentment and fulfillment or wisdom. If they have overwhelming regrets and wonder if it was all worth it, they may be dealing with despair. This person will tend to fear death wondering what life was all about.

To sum up Erikson’s theory, successful completion of each stage results in a healthy personality and the acquisition of basic virtues, which the ego can use to resolve subsequent crises.

Infant0 to 18 moHopeTrust vs. Mistrust
Toddler18 mo to 3 yrsWillAutonomy vs. Shame and Doubt
Preschool3 to 6 yrsPurposeInitiative vs. Guilt
Childhood6 to 12 yrsCompetenceIndustry vs. Inferiority
Adolescent12 to 18 yrsFidelityIdentity vs. Role Confusion
Young Adulthood19 to 40 yrsLoveIntimacy vs. Isolation
Middle Adulthood40 to 65 yrsCareGenerativity vs. Stagnation
Senior Adulthood65+ yrsWisdomEgo Integrity vs. Despair


Failure to successfully complete a stage can result in a reduced ability to complete further stages and therefore a more unhealthy personality and sense of self. While vague in its application, as noted earlier, Erikson’s theory is still widely used and taught today and is a framework for understanding a person’s psychological development through their lifespan.


Now, before we go, let’s test your memory with a couple of review questions:

1. Which of the following is true when caring for a hospitalized infant and assisting with their development of trust according to Erikson:

  1. When they cry, let them cry a little to see if they really have a need
  2. When they cry, let them cry a while, it will help their psychological development
  3. When they cry, let the doctor know how long and how often
  4. When they cry, let Mom or you respond as they are expressing a need


2. Which of the following stages of psychological development represents a hospitalized adolescent benefitting from visits from their peers?

  1. Industry vs. Inferiority
  2. Identity vs. Role Confusion
  3. Intimacy vs. Isolation
  4. Generativity vs. Stagnation


I hope this review was helpful! Thanks for watching, and happy studying!


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by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: August 2, 2023