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Industry Versus Inferiority

Stage Four of Psychosocial Development


Industry versus inferiority

Industry versus inferiority is the fourth stage of psychosocial development.

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  • Psychosocial Conflict: Industry versus Inferiority

  • Major Question: "How can I be good?"

  • Basic Virtue: Competence

  • Important Event(s): School

Industry versus inferiority is the fourth stage of Erik Erikson's theory of psychosocial development. The stage occurs during childhood between the ages of six and eleven. School and social interaction play an important role during this time of a child’s life. Through social interactions, children begin to develop a sense of pride in their accomplishments and abilities.

During the industry versus inferiority stage, children become capable of performing increasingly complex tasks. As a result, they strive to master new skills. Children who are encouraged and commended by parents and teachers develop a feeling of competence and belief in their skills. Those who receive little or no encouragement from parents, teachers, or peers will doubt their ability to be successful.

According to Erikson, this stage is vital in the development of self-confidence. During school and other social activities, children receive praise and attention for performing various tasks such as reading, writing, drawing and solving problems. Children need to cope with new social and academic demands. Success leads to a sense of competence, while failure results in feelings of inferiority.

Next: Stage 5 - Identity Versus Confusion

Return to The Psychosocial Stages


Erikson, E.H. (1968). Identity: Youth and Crisis. New York: Norton.

Erikson, E.H. (1963). Childhood and Society. (2nd ed.). New York: Norton.

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