Journal of Adult Development

, Volume 13, Issue 3–4, pp 148–157 | Cite as

Trust, Identity, and Ego Integrity: Modeling Erikson’s Core Stages Over 34 Years

  • Joel R. SneedEmail author
  • Susan Krauss Whitbourne
  • Michelle E. Culang


Erikson’s core stages (trust, identity, and ego integrity) were modeled over 34 years from college through the late 1950s among 175 men and women tested on the Inventory of Psychosocial Development (Constantinople, Dev Psychol 1:357–372, 1969) testing the hypothesis that each, although united by the theme of wholeness and continuity, would show distinct developmental trajectories. Stage 1 (Trust versus Mistrust) followed a positive linear trajectory and Stage 5 (Identity versus Diffusion) followed a curvilinear trajectory that leveled off in middle adulthood. Stage 8 (Ego Integrity versus Despair) followed a curvilinear trajectory with an increasing trend in middle adulthood. The unique trajectories for each of the psychosocial crisis stages were expected on the basis of Erikson’s theory. In addition, there was also significant variability in either the mean or slope of each stage demonstrating individual differences in change, a central tenet of Erikson’s life span developmental approach.


Trust Identity Ego Integrity Erikson Lifespan development Rochester Adult Longitudinal Study (RALS) 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joel R. Sneed
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Susan Krauss Whitbourne
    • 3
  • Michelle E. Culang
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyQueens College of the City University of New YorkFlushingUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryColumbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute New YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA

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