Strengths and Weaknesses of Erickson’s Psycho-Social Theory of Social Development

Erikson Theory of Psychosocial Development Stages

Erik Erikson was a German American psychologist who is renowned for his psychosocial development theory of human beings. He coined the term identity crisis. Erikson’s psychosocial development takes place in eight stages. Each stage involves two conflicting ideas that need resolution for a human’s proper development. These are as follows:

  • Stage 1 – Infancy (Trust vs Mistrust)
  • Stage 2 – Toddlerhood (Autonomy vs Shame and Doubt)
  • Stage 3 – Preschool Years (Initiative vs Guilt)
  • Stage 4 – Early School Years (Industry vs Inferiority)
  • Stage 5 – Adolescence (Identity vs Role Confusion)
  • Stage 6 – Young Adulthood (Intimacy vs Isolation)
  • Stage 7 – Middle Adulthood (Generativity vs Stagnation)
  • Stage 8 – Late Adulthood (Integrity vs Despair)

The Strengths of Erikson’s Psychological Development

The merits of Erikson’s psychosocial development theory are as follows:

  1. Erikson’s psychosocial development theory provides an integrated and broad framework for social development.
  2. It gives an understanding of the stages involved in human development throughout a lifespan.
  3. It showcases the identity crisis individuals go through during the different stages of development.
  4. It provides a detailed insight into the psychosocial crisis concept.
  5. It asserts the importance of culture and society and its influence on one’s development.
  6. It gives a better understanding of the cognitive structure of human beings.
  7. The theory enables individuals to have a better understanding of life and develop directions.

The Weaknesses of Erickson’s Psychosocial Development

The demerits of Erikson’s psychosocial development theory are as follows:

  1. While moving from one stage to another, the theory lacks explanation.
  2. Better elaboration is required for the impact of culture on development.
  3. Too much importance is given on individuality with little elaboration of the same.
  4. There is a lack of elaboration between the connection of all the stages.
  5. Many researchers argue that the theory is extremely Eurocentric.
  6. Most studies argue that the theory focuses only on male development. 
  7. This theory involving eight stages is believed to be a generic plan of development by many researchers.


Erikson’s theory, though widely used, is criticized by many and it should be remembered that his theory is just one way to gain an insight into human growth and development.