Psychological Development Across the Lifespan

Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages

What is involved with Identity vs. Role Confusion?

This stage takes place in adolescence. It is the first psychosocial stage to extend beyond childhood. One of Erikson’s particular interests was the concept of ego identity. He was interested in the manner in which people develop a concept of themselves within their social world. In late adolescence, people are expected to leave the shelter of their family and start to take their place within the larger society, to take on an adult role in society. Part of this process involves the development of an identity. What kind of adult will I be? What kind of career will I have? What are my values? My beliefs? While it is important that adolescents not shut down this search too soon, thus imprisoning themselves into an overly rigid identity, they also need to narrow their options enough to choose an adult path. People who have trouble with this process struggle with a diffuse and confused sense of their role in society.


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