Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development is one of the most popular personality theories developed through the history of psychology science. Erikson, who is believed to be a Freudian ego-psychologist, has accepted the idea that personality develops in a series of stages. His psychosocial development theory is, however, much more society and culture-oriented than those of Freud and his followers.
According to Erikson, human personality builds up through a prearranged sequence of eight steps. The psychoanalyst claimed that in each stage people undergo a conflict that operates as a turning point in personality formation. Our advancement through each step is primarily influenced by our success or failure in all the preceding stages. “His eight stages of man were formulated, not through experimental work, but through wide – ranging experience in psychotherapy, including extensive experience with children and adolescents from low – as well as upper – and middle – social classes” (Child Development Institute).
Industry versus Inferiority stage, which is the fourth step, covers the early school years period, presumably when a child is between six and twelve years old. This stage is characterized by new social interactions in the neighborhood and at school that lead to child’s starting to develop a feeling of satisfaction based on his/her accomplishments and facilities.
At this point the child learns to produce the more formal skills of life, such as communicating with peers with consideration of the set laws; moving ahead from free play to play that might be accurately structured by rules and requires prescribed teamwork; making progress in basic sciences such as social studies, reading, arithmetic (Child Development Institute). Children, becoming aware of the significance of own competence, increase self-discipline and tend to work hardly on own progress.
Individuals, who manage to succeed on Industry vs. Inferiority stage, develop a sense of proficiency and confidence in own skills. However, those children who have failed at previous stages, and have not developed trust, initiative and ability to learn autonomously, will grow to doubt their ability to be successful. If not being supported and praised by parents and teachers, they will fail to learn easily enough to be industrious, will most possibly experience inferiority and, eventually, defeat. Naturally, experience of disappointment in elementary school can hardly be ignored. This type of failure may lead to development of complexes that, in turn, may cause future problems with a college degree obtaining.