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Erikson’s Stages of the Life Cycle

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Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development


Ego development stages; Stage sequence of ego epigenesis; Stages of identity development; Stages of psychosocial development


Developmental psychologist Erik H. Erikson constructed a theory of the human life cycle composed of eight stages, each of which represents a particular period in human development. Erikson theorized that an individual’s development relies on three processes: “the biological process of the hierarchic organization of organ systems constituting a body (soma); … the psychic process of organizing individual experience by ego synthesis (psyche); and… the communal process of the cultural organization of the interdependence of persons (ethos)” ([8], pp. 25–26). A developing body, a developing mind, and dynamic sociocultural milieu are the three primary processes underlying a person’s identity formation and psychosocial development.

Erikson based his developmental theory on the biological logic of “epigenesis,” which refers to the prenatal process by...

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Poole, S., Snarey, J. (2011). Erikson’s Stages of the Life Cycle. In: Goldstein, S., Naglieri, J.A. (eds) Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development. Springer, Boston, MA.

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