Articles, Career Development

Developmental Psychology: Examining Erickson’s Stage of Industry vs Inferiority

Examining Erickson’s Stage of Industry vs Inferiority

by Denise N. Fyffe

The “industry vs. inferiority” is the fourth stage as dictated by Erikson’s psychosocial development theory. This is where children of school age achieve success by developing a sense of competency. This is ideal for the child, as he will carry this feeling in his academics and social interactions.


Children of school age who have a sense of competency are more confident in their abilities. They may tend to partake in physical activities, which boosts this confidence even more. For example, a boy would go on to play football and may do well. He then earns the respect and esteem of his peers and is boosted by their compliments and praise. The child’s relationship with peers in school and the neighborhood becomes increasingly important.


 A school-age child who does not successfully complete this stage has difficulty with the ability to move between the world at home, and the world of peers. This can then lead to feelings of inferiority.

In this ‘industry vs. inferiority’ stage children want to do productive work on their own because they feel competent in their abilities to do them. For example, students can water class plants, collect, and distribute materials for the teacher, and keep records of forms for the teacher. The teacher would congratulate them on their hard work, and this too produces revere from peers and other teachers.


This aids in their development and if they do not successfully achieve this stage, they may be shy and feel inferior in their abilities. Social interaction may be negative as they may be deemed as a ‘weirdo’ or teased by other children.

This child may also fail his tasks repeatedly and then receive no recommendations, or praise.

At this stage, children are learning to see the relationship between perseverance and the pleasure of a job completed. An important event at this stage is attendance at school. As a student, children have a need to be productive and do work on their own. Interaction with peers at school also plays an imperative role in child development at this stage.

The child for the first time has a wide variety of events to deal with, including academics, group activities, and friends. It is essential for the child at this stage to discover pleasure in being productive and the need to succeed, therefore developing competence.




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