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Erik Erikson's 8 Stages of PsychosocialDevelopment

Stage 1: Oral-Sensory

Age: Infancy -- Birth to 1 year

Conflict: Trust vs. Mistrust

Important Event: Feeding


The important event in this stage is feeding. According to Erikson, theinfant will develop a sense of trust only if the parent or caregiver isresponsive and consistent with the basic needs being meet. The need for careand food must be met with comforting regularity. The infant must first form atrusting relationship with the parent or caregiver, otherwise a sense ofmistrust will develop.

Elements for a positive outcome:

The infant's need for care, familiarity, comfort and nourishment are met. Parental consistency and responsiveness is essential for the sense of trust todevelop.

Elements for a negative outcome:

Babies who are not securely attached to their mothers are less cooperativeand more aggressive in their interactions with their mothers. As they growolder, they become less competent and sympathetic with peers. They also exploretheir environment with less enthusiasm and persistence.


Babies will begin to understand that objects and people exist even when theycannot see them. This is where trust becomes important.

Erikson's Stage 2Summary Chart
Introduction to StagesErikson home page