Psychologist stages of development, and one stage

Psychologist Erik Erikson is known for his theory on eight stages of social development. This lesson will focus on the stage known as intimacy vs. isolation.

Erik Erikson’s Eight Stages

As you look back on your life, can you see a natural sequence of development? Did you develop continually, or did you move through various stages? Developmental psychologists explore these questions and often identify stages in our development.

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Erik Erikson (1902-1994) was a stage theorist who believed we move through social stages of development, and one stage of interest is the intimacy vs. isolation stage.

Age of Stage Challenge
Infancy to 1 year Trust vs. Mistrust
Toddlerhood Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt
Preschool Initiative vs.

Guilt

Elementary School Industry vs. Inferiority
Adolescence Identity vs. Identity Confusion
Young Adulthood Intimacy vs. Isolation
Middle Adulthood Generativity vs.

Stagnation

Late Adulthood Integrity vs. Despair

Intimacy Versus Isolation

As we enter young adulthood in our early 20s, we also enter Erikson’s stage known as intimacy vs. isolation. During this stage, young adults face the challenge of forming close relationships with others.

They develop intimate friendships and partnerships. Intimacy is commonly associated with a sexual relationship, but it’s possible to have intimate friendships as well.To Erikson, intimacy means having a close, loving relationship characterized by honesty.

Relationships with family members and good friends deepen and become more solid as you learn what it means to love. Some young adults in this stage make decisions about what qualities they look for in a relationship. Some find a spouse or a future spouse.

Other young adults do not navigate this stage as successfully, and they are left feeling isolated and alone. Perhaps these adults did not pass the previous stage, identity vs. identity confusion, in a healthy way and are still questioning who they are. These adults may not yet have a strong sense of self, making it difficult to share in a close, loving relationship. As they witness friends finding love and perhaps even getting married, they feel a sense of loneliness according to Erikson. Others in this stage may experience an even greater loneliness of not having close friends at all.

Numerous dating websites are evidence of how important the intimacy vs. isolation stage is in our lives. You only have to turn on the television to see the intimacy vs. isolation stage in action on reality TV.

Match-making shows like ‘The Millionaire Matchmaker’ and dating shows like ‘The Bachelor’ demonstrate how people move through this stage, sometimes with dignity and sometimes without. Erikson believed the way we navigate the challenges in the intimacy vs. isolation stage would set the tone for our next stages of development.

Lesson Summary

Erik Erikson (1902-1994) was a stage theorist who believed we move through social stages of development, and one stage of interest is the intimacy vs. isolation stage. Erikson believed that social development is a central motivating theme in our lives, and social development can influence how we see ourselves. For that reason, Erikson’s stages are often called Stages of Psychosocial Development.As we enter young adulthood in our early 20s, we also enter Erikson’s stage known as intimacy vs. isolation.

During this stage, young adults face the challenge of forming close relationships with others. They develop intimate friendships and partnerships. Intimacy is commonly associated with a sexual relationship, but it’s possible to have intimate friendships as well. To Erikson, intimacy means having a close, loving relationship characterized by honesty. Other young adults do not navigate this stage as successfully, and they are left feeling isolated and alone.

Learning Outcomes

Examine all aspects of this lesson, and then test your ability to:

  • Provide background information on Erik Erikson
  • Recite Erikson’s stage theory and identify the eight stages
  • Discuss the intimacy vs isolation stage of development
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