Erikson’s fifth stage of psychosocial development occurs during age 12-18 years old.
At this age, adolescents must develop a sense of who they are, and develop an identity for themselves. This transition from childhood to adulthood is very important, as many adolescents struggle with social interactions, with “fitting in,” and learn to develop a sense of morality at this age. During this stage, an adolescent will learn their role in society and who they want to become as an adult. Adolescents may feel uncomfortable about their body for some time, until they can adapt and mature as their body grows and matures. Success in this stage leads to the virtue of fidelity.
In the process of defining who we are and developing an identity for ourselves, we attempt to find where and how we belong with others during adolescence. Learning how we fit in with other people and how we interact in social relationships is an important step towards developing romantic relationships in the the next stage, during early adulthood.
Fidelity involves the ability to commit one’s self to others and accepting others, even when there may be ideological differences. Fidelity and devotion are necessary to freely associate with others, and they are concepts based on loyalty, social and interpersonal integrity, personal standards and dignity.
Fundamentally, the genital stage would be compared to puberty. Hormonal and physical changes in the adolescent’s body cause a surge in sexual thoughts, feelings and behavior. This is the time of adolescent sexual experimentation. The successful resolution after this stage would be settling down in a loving relationship with another person.
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