Stages of Shaping Personality

Stages of Shaping PersonalityPersonality development is the development of the organized pattern of behaviors and attitudes that makes a person distinctive. Personality development occurs through the ongoing interaction of temperament, character, and environment.

How personality develops from its infant to the grown-up stages is an interesting and useful study.

Psychologists have come out with different stages in the development of personality. The most important of them have been explained here.

Freud’s Stages

Sigmund Freud is probably the most well-known theorist when it comes to the development of personality. Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual Development are, like other stage theories, completed in a predetermined sequence and can result in either successful completion or a healthy personality or can result in failure, leading to an unhealthy personality. In 1905, Freud said about the stages of personality development. Freud believed that the human personality consisted of three interworking parts: the id, the ego, and the superego; According to his theory, these parts become unified as a child works through the five stages of psychosexual development. These stages are:

Oral/Dependency: This stage takes place from birth to age one. During the oral stage, the infant’s primary source of interaction occurs through the mouth, so the rooting and sucking reflex is especially important. If a child’s oral needs are not met during infancy, he or she may develop negative habits such as nail biting or thumb sucking to meet this basic need.

Anal/ Potty Training

In this second stage, the child leams to control their bodily functions. If not handled properly, then he or she might become anal retentive, controlling, or rigid. This stage takes place from one to three years.

During the anal stage, Freud believed that the primary focus of the libido was on controlling bladder and bowel movements. The major conflict at this stage is toilet training— the child has to learn to control his or her bodily needs. Developing this control leads to a sense of accomplishment and independence.

According to Freud, success at this stage is dependent upon the way in which parents approach to toilet training. Parents who utilize praise and rewards for using the toilet at the appropriate time encourage positive outcomes and help children feel capable and productive.

Read More: Theories of Personality

Phallic Stage

In this stage, the child becomes aware of male and female.

Personality is fully developed by this stage. During this stage, preschoolers take pleasure in their genitals and, according to Freud, begin to struggle with sexual desires toward the opposite sex parent (boys to mothers and girls to fathers).

For boys, this is called the Oedipus complex, involving a boy’s desire for his mother and his urge to replace his father who is seen as a rival for the mother’s attention. The Electra complex is the female version where the female child has anger toward her mother.

StageAgeMajor Chara
OralBirth to one yearInterest in oral gratification from sucking, eating, mouthing, and biting.
AnalOne year to three yearsGratification from expelling and withholding forces; coming to terms with society’s controls relating to toilet training.
PhallicThree to four yearsInterest in the genitals, coming to terms with Oedipal conflict, leading to identification with the same-sex parent.
Latency4-6 years to adolescenceSexual concerns are largely unimportant.
GenitalAdolescence to adulthoodThe reemergence of sexual interests and the establishment of a mature sexual relationship.


Latency Period

The stage begins around the time that children enter school and become more concerned with peer relationships, hobbies, and other interests. Children begin to behave in morally acceptable ways and adopt the values of their parents and other important adults.

The latent period is a time of exploration in which sexual energy is still present, but it is directed into other areas such as intellectual pursuits and social interactions. This stage is important in the development of social and communication skills and self-confidence.


Starting from age 12 to the peak of puberty, this stage is classified by the reawakening of sexual interest. During the final stage of psychosexual development, the individual develops a strong sexual interest in the opposite sex. This stage begins during puberty but last throughout the rest of a person’s life

If the other stages have been completed successfully, the individual should now be well-balanced, warm, and caring. The goal of this stage is to establish a balance between the various life areas.

For Freud, childhood experiences shape our personalities and behavior as adults. Freud viewed development as discontinuous; he believed that each of us must pass through a series of stages during childhood and that if we lack proper nurturing and parenting during a Stage, we may become stuck in that stage.

Erik Erikson’s Stages

Erik Erikson gave a new dimension to the development of personality, which he claimed was nothing more than a systematic extension of Freud’s psychosexual development.

Erikson felt that relatively more attention should be given to the social rather than the sexual adaptations of the individual. Erikson asserted that a psycho-social crisis occurs within each of the stages and that in order for the person to have a normal, fulfilling personality; each crisis should be optimally resolved.

For Erikson, a crisis is not a catastrophe but a turning point in an individual’s development. Erikson’s eight stages of psychological development are shown below;

StagesBasic ConflictImportant EventsOutcome
Infancy (birth to 18 months)Trust vs. MistrustFeedingChildren develop a sense of trust when caregivers provide reliability, care, and affection. A lack of this will lead to mistrust.
Early Childhood (2 to 3 years)Autonomy vs. Shame and DoubtToilet TrainingChildren need to develop a sense of personal control over physical skills and a sense of independence. Success leads to feelings of autonomy, failure results in feelings of shame and doubt.
Preschool (3 to 5 years)Initiative vs. GuiltExplorationChildren need to begin asserting control and power over the environment. Success in this stage leads to a sense of purpose. Children who try to exert too much power experience disapproval, resulting in a sense of guilt.
School Age (6 to 11 years)Industry vs InferioritySchoolChildren need to cope with new social and academic demands. Success in this stage leads to a sense of competence, while failure results in feelings of inferiority.
Adolescence (12 to 18 years)Identity vs. Role ConfusionSocial RelationshipsTeens need to develop a sense of self and personal identity. Success leads to an ability to stay true to oneself, while failure leads to role confusion and a weak sense of self.
Young Adulthood (19 to 40 years)Intimacy vs. IsolationRelationshipsYoung adults need to form intimate, loving relationships with other people. Success leads to strong relationships, while failure results in loneliness and isolation.
Middle Adulthood (40 to 65 years)Generativity vs. StagnationWork and ParenthoodAdults need to create or nurture things that will outlast them, often by having children or Creating a positive change that benefits other people. Success leads to feelings of usefulness and accomplishment, while failure results in shallow involvement in the world.
Maturity (65 to death)Ego Integrity vs. DespairReflection on lifeOlder adults need to look back on life and feel a sense of fulfillment. Success at this stage leads to feelings of wisdom, while failure results in regret, bitterness, and despair.

Jean Piaget’s Stages

Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist is credited with ‘cognitive’ or ‘conscious’ stages of personality development. For Piaget, it is conscious instincts which are important variables in the development of personality.

Being a lover of children, Piaget spent most of his life observing children in order to understand when and how they developed their reasoning abilities. He identified four stages of personality development (Aswathappa, 2002).

StagesAge RangeDescription
Sensorimotor0-2 YearsCoordination of senses with a motor response, sensory curiosity about the world. The language used for demands cataloging object permanence developed.
Preoperational2-7 YearsSymbolic thinking, use of proper syntax and grammar to express full concepts. Imagination and intuition are strong, but complex abstract thought still difficult. Conservation developed.
Concrete Operational7-11 YearsConcepts attached to concrete situations, Time, space, and quantity are understood and can be applied, but not as independent concepts.
Formal Operational11+ YearsTheoretical, hypothetical, and counterfactual thinking. Abstract logic and reasoning. Strategy and planning become possible. Concepts learned in one context can be applied to another.


By sensorimotor, Piaget meant that the infant responds to stimuli quite directly with little in the way of complex information processing. During the preoperational stage, the child learns to separate himself from the environment and initially classify objects through the use of symbols and words.

The concrete operational stage is characterized by an intellectual understanding of the concept of conservation of a mass, irrespective of its shape. In the final stage, the formal operational stage, reasoning can take place on abstract as well as concrete levels.

At this stage, concrete things need to be manipulated to cause behavior as employees are capable of analyzing, reasoning, imagining, and evaluating objects.

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