• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Stop wasting time looking for files and revisions. Connect your Gmail, DriveDropbox, and Slack accounts and in less than 2 minutes, Dokkio will automatically organize all your file attachments. Learn more and claim your free account.


Erik Erikson

Page history last edited by Butch Latimer 9 years, 6 months ago

Erik Erikson

Analyzing stages of development through cultural and social influences throughout the human lifespan

Presented by Meredith Crocker

Historical Context of Work

Erik Homburger Erikson

Born, 1902

Died, 1994

Erik Erikson was born in Frankfurt, Germany and studied psychology. He developed the theory of Psychosocial Development which examines how an individual’s personality forms through stages in their lifespan.  

Education and Influences

Erik Erikson studied psychoanalysis under Anna Freud (Sigmund Freud’s daughter) receiving a certificate from Vienna Psychoanalytic Society.

Erikson started the first practice in child psychoanalysis in Boston.

Professor at: (although he did not have a degree)

  • Harvard Medical School (1934-1935)
  • Yale Medical School (1936-1939)
  • University of California at Berkeley (1939-1951)

Understanding child development is greatly influenced by the studies of Erikson along with other during this time such as: Franz Boas, Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson, Sigmund Freud, Jean Piaget, and Lev Vygotsky.

By using the theory of Psychosocial Development, it is easy to see how understanding child development determines how teachers teach in specific grade levels, and how “developmentally appropriate” activities are used for curriculum and instruction purposes.

The theories of child development can even be seen in how companies market “norm-referenced assessment tools that can evaluate where a child is in relation to the expected developmental levels for a particular age group”. The following quote references the importance in child development and readiness prior to instruction:

“Knowing, for example, that developing fundamental skills in reading, writing, and calculating are major tasks normally included in the six- to twelve-year age group enables us to design educational programs that help growing youngsters acquire these skills when they are developmentally ready to do so.”

Work Life

Erikson was a psychoanalyst influenced by Sigmund Freud’s ideas of personality and conscious/unconscious behaviors. Erikson did not agree with Freud’s psychosexual stages, but by using Freud’s ideas, Erikson branched out with his our theories of psychosocial development. Erikson believed that identity formation (personality) was a psychosocial task for adolescents which happened in the earlier stages of development.

8 Stages of Psychosocial Development

    • Trust Versus Mistrust
    • 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

Erikson also published several books during his career including:

Childhood and Society (1950, psychology)
Young Man Luther (1958, psychology)
Insight and Responsibility (1964, psychology)
Identity: Youth and Crisis (1968, psychology)
Gandhi's Truth (1969, psychology)
Dimensions of a New Identity (1974, psychology)
Life History and the Historical Moment (1975, psychology)
The Life Cycle Completed (1987, psychology, with J.M. Erikson)

Impact on Best Practices

Erik Erikson believed that the Identity vs. Role Confusion stage of Psychosocial Development was a milestone for adolescents.  This stage is reached in children from age 12-18 years old. In this stage adolescents develop a sense of self worth and personal identity. American education uses Erikson’s theories of development along with the works of other cultural anthropologist to educate youth in this nation. American schools use the theories of development to help provide youth with the developmental basis they will need throughout the growth and development of their lifespan. In order to do this, educators must know the Physical, Cognitive-intellectual, Moral, Psychological, and Social-emotional development which can be found in National Middle School Association: This We Believe.

Problems or Failures

Contrary to his work on “healthy emotional and cognitive nurturance of children”, Erikson’s son, Neil, was institutionalized for the 21 years of his life due to his physical and mental handicap cause from sever Down syndrome at birth. This caused controversy among Erikson’s work during this time period. He and his wife, Joan, were co-developing the theories of “healthy” child development that eventually surfaced in the book, Childhood and Society.


Impact on Others

Erikson’s research along with Freud, Piaget, Dewey, and Vygotsky have shaped the way in which we educate our children, the development of schools, and how we make sense of how cultural, social, emotional, and physical events effect the growth and development of human kind.

The following link shows how Erikson’s theory impacts educators:



Coles, R. (1970). Erik H. Erikson: The Growth of His Work. Boston: Little, Brown.


Herman, W.E. (2008). Family Myths, Beliefs, and Customs as a Research/Educational Tool to Explore Identity Formation. Unpublished manuscript, Department of Psychology, State University of New York, Potsdam, New York. Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED503676.pdf 


Matusov, E., DePalma, R., & Drye, S. (2007). Whose development? Salvaging the Concept of Development within a Sociocultural Approach to Education. Educational Theory, 57(4), 403-421.


mlferg08, (2010). Erikson's Psychosocial Theory [Web]. Available from http://www.youtube.com/user/mlferg08


NNDB: Tracking the Entire World (2011). Erik Erikson. Retrieved from http://www.nndb.com/people/151/000097857/



Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.