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Erik Erikson's 8 Stages of PsychosocialDevelopment

Stage 5: Adolescence

Age: Adolescence --12 to 18 years

Conflict: Identity vs. Role Confusion

Important Event: Peer relationships


At this stage, adolescents are in search of an identity that will lead themto adulthood. Adolescents make a strong effort to answer the question "Whoam I?" Erikson notes the healthy resolution of earlier conflicts can nowserve as a foundation for the search for an identity. If the child overcomesearlier conflicts they are prepared to search for identity. Did they develop thebasic sense of trust? Do they have a strong sense of industry to believe inthemselves?

Elements for a positive outcome:

The adolescent must make a conscious search for identity. This is built onthe outcome and resolution to conflict in earlier stages.

Elements for a negative outcome:

If the adolescent can not make deliberate decisions and choices, especiallyabout vocation, sexual orientation, and life in general, role confusion becomesa threat.


Adolescents attempt to establish their own identities and see themselves asseparate from their parents.

Erikson's Stage 6Summary Chart
Introduction to StagesErikson home page