Erikson's Stages of Adolescence


German psychoanalyst Erik Erikson developed a personality development model that consisted of eight stages, one of which concerns adolescents. According to the model, an individual goes through all these interrelated stages in his lifetime. Each stage has a conflict; should the individual not overcome that conflict, it can result in flawed personality development in later stages of life. During adolescence, the individual goes through a conflict. If the external factors favor him, he overcomes the conflict and blossoms into an adult with a self-recognized identity.


  • From 12 to 18 years of age, an individual is considered an adolescent. This is the stage during which the person starts developing his personality based on his own actions. According to Erikson, prior to this stage, the personality development is dependent on "what is done to us," while from here on, development chiefly depends on "what we do." The theme of this particular stage is to carve out the individual identity.


  • Each psychosocial development stage presented by Erikson is characterized by a conflict. According to Erikson, the adolescent stage is characterized by the conflict "identity versus role confusion." An individual attempts to discover himself by taking into account his position in his family, where he originates from, and as a member of the society, where he belongs. If the person is unable to recognize his social responsibilities, he withdraws, a period Erikson referred to as "moratorium." The individual encounters "role confusion" and is unable to navigate to the next stage successfully. According to Erikson, positive outcomes of this conflict could be "fidelity and devotion," while potential negative outcomes could be "fanaticism and repudiation."

Important Event

  • During the adolescence period, an individual starts developing strong affiliations to friends, ideals and causes. In an attempt to "fit in" with society, she places great importance in social interactions. Peer pressure can be a stressful event during this period, which can help develop a sense of morality and drive the individual to the right or wrong direction, depending on her company and the ideals she upholds.


  • During this stage, if the individual is able to make deliberate and firm decisions regarding the subjects he wants to study in high school and in college, he will have a clear-cut path to the future. It is this path on which he will plan his career accordingly. On the other hand, if he is torn between his own will and his parents' or instructors' opinions on the subjects he should choose, he may end up choosing a career he doesn't like.


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