Stages of Personality Development

Personality development is a much talked and discussed about concept. A great number of psychoanalysts, psychologists and philosophers have tried to analyse different stages of personality development. There is plenty of Personality development material on stages of personality development. The moot point is how do our personalities develop? One can delve deep into these stages from different angles. Some of the prominent psychologists have put forward interesting insights into evolution of a personality.

Some of the famous theories given are,
– Trait theory of personality that talks about number of broad traits comprising a personality.
– The “Big Five” personality dimensions that categorise personality traits and explains thereafter characteristics of each category.
– Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid that covers aspects like self-actualization and other basic necessities.
– Self-Efficacy theory was propounded by Albert Bandura.
– Psychogenic needs theory given by Henry Murray that finds psychogenic needs at core of human personality.
– Sigmund Freud’s Psychosexual stages of personal development and
– Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial stages of personality development.

Most of these theories have been seen from the perspective of psychosocial and psychoanalytic themes. Erikson’s psychosocial theory is a very famous personality development theory and has found many takers because of it taking into consideration eight stages of human life, from the time child is born to old age when life ends. The main element of his theory is ‘ego identity’. According to him, ego identity keeps on changing and evolving as humans come to new environment and their experiences are subject to change.

The first stage is of Trust versus Mistrust and it takes place between birth and one year of age. In this stage child develops trust and security based on the dependability and quality of his parents. But if parents fail to provide love and affection to the kid he will have hard time trusting others.

The second stage is Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt that takes place during early childhood and here, child grows from a totally dependent infant to a toddler. Child learns to move around independently and is introduced to toilet training. Child’s control over his choices, body’s function leads to feeling of control and he will become self-competent.

The third stage is of Initiative versus Guilt which begins when a child enters three years of age. Child starts exploring his power, goes to pre-school and gets a feel of social interaction. Successful child in this stage feels control but in case he fails to acquire skills he will have feeling of guilt and self-doubt.

The fourth stage is of Industry versus Inferiority that runs from the age of five to thirteen years. Increasing social interaction, developing sense of pride and adequate encouragement are highlights of this stage. Absence of these will make him develop inferiority complex.

The fifth stage is of Identity versus Role Confusion which is very crucial. This is also a typical teenage phase where child is confused between childhood and adulthood. He is expected to make new identity in every sphere like career, social domain and relationships. He also learns about gender roles. Good experience in this stage will make him a confident adult who is ready to take responsibilities.

The sixth stage is of Intimacy versus Isolation and it occurs between ages of 20-40 years. In this phase people develop factors like intimacy and commitment. Every stage builds upon skills developed in previous stages. People who fail to develop commitment and intimacy in this stage turn out to be depressed and commitment phobic.
The seventh stage is Generativity versus Stagnation which is all about consistency in building up important aspects of life like career and family. Individual also learn to give back to society in this phase. Failure to do so leads of stagnation and meaninglessness.

The last stage is Ego Integrity versus Despair where individual reflects back on his life. Ego identity is completely formed in last stage. A sense of accomplishments will help in developing a sense of integrity and wisdom else feeling of bitterness and despair.
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