Episode 68: Mnemonic Device for Erikson’s Eight Stages of Development

MichaelDevelopment, Learning/Memory111 Comments

Memorize Erik Erikson‘s Eight Stages of Psychosocial Development once and for all! In this video episode I have a little fun using the peg word mnemonic device and ordinary household objects to show how mnemonics work and how to apply them to the challenge of memorizing Erikson’s eight stages. By the way, the correct spelling of Erik Erikson’s does indeed leave out the “c”, so remember NOT to spell his name as “Erickson”.

No time to watch the video? Click the image below to download my brief PDF and memorize Erikson’s Eight Stages of Psychosocial Development in minutes!

Episode 20 on Erik

Remember not to spell Erikson with an extra c as in Erickson – you’re probably thinking of psychologist Milton Erickson

111 Comments on “Episode 68: Mnemonic Device for Erikson’s Eight Stages of Development”

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  2. Lisa

    I just wanted to tell you I am studying for my nursing boards and was struggling with trying to remember all the stages. This helped so much!!! I wanted to say it was awesome, entertaining and thank you : )

  3. Michael Britt


    Thanks so much! It’s interesting – I’ve had a number of nursing students either leave comments or email me about how this episode and the brain mnemonics have been helpful. I didn’t anticipate this, but I’m glad to see it.

    Thanks again,


  4. Pennie Clinton

    Thank you so much. I am a graduate nurse who is preparing to take my nursing N-Clex exam. I have such a hard time remembering Erikson’s stages. This really helped. I remembered this within a matter of a few minutes. Thanks again.

  5. Holly

    It was interesting to read all of your comments. I am also a nursing student trying to remember these stages… Well done, I’ve studied these many times and for what ever reason I can never remember them, I watched this once and now I’ve got it! Thanks

  6. Michael Britt


    Another nursing student on The Psych Files. Glad to hear that you found this useful. There’s more crazy and – hopefully – memorable mnemonics for additional parts of the brain on my brain mnemonics PDF. Check it out (click on the picture of Freud in the left side of the page).



  7. Erin

    I’m also a nursing student. I used this on my last test. Thanks for the great visuals. They have really helped me.

  8. Haley

    I just wanted to say thanks for this episode. I have a interest in the medical and physiology field and this really speed up the process of me memorizing the 8 stages!

  9. Katharine S.

    I’m so glad I stumbled across this site — as a social work student, I need to memorize not only Erikson’s stage theory, but also the parts of the brain. Your episodes about both are amazing — I watched them last night and reviewed them this morning in myhead, and I had retained almost everything!

    A suggestion, however, if you will permit. The Four is a Dinosaur — the dusty (inDUSTry) dinosaur is fearful (inFEAR-iority) to remember the second half. Also, in Five is Sky-dive, the guy falls and dents the auto (iDENTity) and then rolls off the car and is knocked around so much, he is confused (ROLL/ROLE CONFUSION).

    Those additions helped me remember the second parts to those stages.

    But your presentations are wonderful — THANK YOU Mr. Britt.

  10. admin

    Katherine – glad you found the episode helpful. I love your idea of the guy who dived into the car and then gets up and is confused – excellent!

    Regarding the dinosaur: I said that the dinosaur was feeling inferior because of the dust on him (which, I admit, is not the best mnemonic for the second half of this stage) – but I’m not clear: why is your dinosaur fearful?

    Thanks again for your comment!


  11. Amy

    Thanks so much for posting your method of memorizing Erikson’s stages (and the brain). I found it to be quite valuable. I think I have finally memorized it after years of attempting to do so for this or that test. I am a nursing student and would like to apply this method to other areas, such as cranial nerves. I have a question about creating the mnemomics for the numbers that are associated (like Erikson’s stages). Should we use bun, shoe, etc. and create new images, or change the rhyming words to eliminate confusion during recall?
    Thank you for your presentations, they are gems!

  12. Michael


    Interesting question. Let’s see. I would change the rhyming words myself. I think it’s kinda easy to get your mnemonics mixed up, so I’d change them. One is a nun perhaps? Nuns are an easy image. Two might be tougher. Hmm….Two is a…..screw? You might want to use a rhyming dictionary to help out. Here’s one: http://www.rhymezone.com/. Have fun and let me know if you get stuck.


  13. Kay

    I’m studying for a pre-school/kindergarten teacher exam here in Germany, and I found this incredibly useful. After watching your video I tested myself right away and I was able to write out all eight stages without any difficulty at all. Thanks a lot!
    I found out some time ago that mnemonics are a great study aid, at first they seem like an awkward detour (and MORE to remember) but the system really works (as long as you conjure up bizarre enough images).

    This video made me subscribe to your podcast!

  14. Michael


    Fantastic! I’m really glad you liked this video. It was a lot of fun to make and I’m glad it’s helpful to a lot of people. Good luck on that test!


  15. Sarah

    This video was incredibly helpful, as I am studying for my Psychology AP test which I am taking tomorrow. I find your mnemonics very helpful and your videos very entertaining. Thank you again!

  16. Maria

    Thanks, Michael! I’m also studying for my nursing boards & this really helps =]
    I read your comments & they’re mostly in the nursing field! That’s awesome!
    Your video is waaaay better than memorizing the Erikson chart. =]

  17. Michael

    Thanks Maria. What else do nursing students have to memorize? Guess I better work on another mnemonic for that since I have so many nursing fans.


  18. Kay

    Hey Michael,

    just a quick update. I passed all three of my exams! I didn’t have to write anything about Erikson’s stages after all, but I had memorized a lot of other stuff I did indeed need by making up my own “mnemonic devices” — and that came in very handy.

    So, Thank You for reminding me what a great study aid mnemonics are!

  19. Michael

    Kay – fantastic! Congratulations! Three exam? Geez – that’s a killer. Glad you made up your own mnemonics – the ones we make ourselves can be the most powerful because only we know what will “stick” in our heads. Thanks for letting me know about your success on the tests.

  20. Courtney

    Thank you so much for your help!! I have a B.A. in psychology and a minor in sociology and now I am working on my masters. I’ve had many classes that cover these stages and I still can’t keep them straight! I take a huge test tomorrow and am so lucky to have found this site. Psych files is now saved to my favorites! :)

  21. Emerson Tay

    Heya Michael! Thanks a lot! I’m a Nursing student in Singapore. It really helped me a lot! Rock on! =)

  22. Michael

    Thanks Emerson. I’ve gotten so much positive feedback to this and my other mnemonics episodes. Guess it’s time to do another one on some other part of the body, or some other hard-t0-remember theory in psychology. Hmm….

  23. Matt Lawson

    Thanks Michael,

    I just happened upon your site here even though I have been listening to your podcast for a while. Thank you so much for this mnemonic I have a test next week and the rogue memorization just isn’t my thing.


  24. Lauren Becker

    This helped me so much! Thank you, I am in tenth grade and in AP Psychology and I already have enough on my plate. This was actually a nice break from work and helpful. Thanks again! (:

  25. Nancy

    Thanks for taking the time to show us the 8 Stages in menomics. It was super fun to watch and very helpful.

  26. Vickie

    I’m impressed. I’m not usually into memorizing per se, but felt a little desperate since not only do I need to remember these 8 stages of psychosocial development (& their virtues), but also the 7 parts conflict theory, ID status & 3 areas of importance for my psych exam tomorrow. I’m happy to report that I have at least the 8 stages down. :) Thank you for your hard work & help… now on to all the rest!

  27. Michael

    Thank you Nancy, Vickie and Joyce. Glad you enjoyed this episode. If you need more mnemonics don’t forget to check out the one on the parts of the brain. Just put “mnemonics” into the search field on the site. Thanks again for your comemnts – Michael

  28. Just

    omg i was using this to study for AP psych, and the whole time watching it I was thinking how lame it was and how it would never help me, but it helped me sooooooooo much
    thank you thank you thank you

  29. Michael

    Just – mnemonics HAVE to be weird and silly in order to work. Glad they worked for you. Thanks for the comment.

  30. Jonatah

    Wow, I got it the first time. I’m taking the winter psych into class its only 13 days long. Professors first thought shared is that we (the students) must be crazy to have put ones self in this situation, we test on ch1 and ch6 this week- know I know Eriksons stages (great!!!!). Thank You!!!!

  31. Sheldon W. Helms

    Rather than shoving the AUTO into the shoe, I just imagined the old Disney film about “Mr. Leadfoot” (portrayed by Goofy, of course). Half the film is his foot pushing down on the gas pedal, so it’s easy for me to associate AUTO with SHOE. : )

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  33. Michael

    Sheldon: I am not familiar with “Mr. Leadfoot”, but I like your association. Mnemonics always work better when you use your own imagery. Great.

  34. Sharon

    I found your episode on Erikson by doing a google search on Erikson mnemonics. I am also a nursing student, and I was looking for a clever way to remember the stages. I have never used the peg technique before … Wow! Thanks so much.

    I posted a link to your video on my class discussion board. Very helpful.

  35. D.Rodriguez

    I’m a Human Development major. I never seem to remember the stages..but this was so helpful. I busted out laughing with the “Dis-Pear” comment and the inferior dinosaur :)

  36. Tawne Pauly

    I learned Ericksons Freud and Piget within one hour by using ur system!!!!

  37. Jamie English

    My kids watched this video with me….they now know Erikson’s stages….of course, they don’t have a full comprehension of what they are, but you pick a number and they’ll tell you what the stage is!! AND….they “get” the system and were adding things to help….like the dent in the car when the sky diver landed….the car rolled when it was dented! I love it!!

  38. Michael

    I really had no idea when I put this video together that so many people would find it not only helpful but also funny. I can see how kids especially might “run away” with the idea of taking numbers, creating rhymes and adding to the list. Sounds great. Glad everyone is finding the video useful and fun. Thanks for your comments!

  39. Heather

    Yes another nursing student who had to pass two CLEP exams. I passed both thanks to your Erikson’s video and your nice review of the brain. I imagined a smart hippo walking through campus to remember the hippocampus and memory. Very helpful.

  40. Jewels

    Studying for my LSW, and i get all the developmental stages mixed up. This really helped. Just a tip to other followers:
    Stage 7: Generativity vs. Stagnation
    “The GENERATOR broke, bringing you back to our NATION” (imagine falling from heaven).

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  43. Nicole

    I love this!! I found a link to it on a nursing forum, and am sharing it with my tutoring students. I’ll definitely be checking out your other videos for more resources to share.

    On another note, in my “first life” I got my MA in Clinical Psychology, intended to get my PhD but life happened and I changed my mind. I went into nursing and have never regretted it, but remain very thankful for my Psych roots. Wish this site had been around when I was TA-ing for Psych!

  44. Adam

    Thanks so much for taking the time to put this video together. I’ve been putting off learing Erikson’s stages for so long now!
    I’m studying for Royal College of Psychiatry exams in UK, and your video is going to be invaluable. Thought you might like to know that you’re influencing people across the world!

  45. Michael

    I had fun making this video but never thought that it would have this much appeal. I also never realized that nursing students would find it so helpful. Thanks so much for all the feel-good comments!

  46. Andrea

    I just tested myself and, thanks to your masterful instruction, retained all 8 stages. I am returning to university to complete a psychology degree I abandoned 40 years ago. My heartfelt thanks for making this available.

  47. Andrew

    Psychology/social work student here. I found this video very helpful and I am glad I found it. :) It’s always good to learn in exciting and new ways. Thank you.


  48. Victoria

    You are a genius for creating this mnemonic device! Thank you so much for saving me time studying these stages!

  49. Anonymous

    Love this site. I really appreciate your efforts and this helps me remember these God awful stages. (studying for the lcsw exam). I laughed out loud to hear you say in the beginning, that we are going to learn these stages “once and for all.” I have been reading and re-reading the boring stages and basically falling asleep. I think I finally got it!! Thanks very much.

  50. Michael

    Thanks everybody! It gives me so much satisfaction to read how this episode has been so helpful. Guess I gotta find another topic and create some more. Thanks for the comments!

  51. Chantelle

    This was so helpful and fun at the same time! Studying for the Praxis. Thank you!

  52. Michael

    The “Praxis” – a nursing exam? Even the name sounds daunting. Glad the mnemonics will come in handy.

  53. Edie

    Taking NCLEX soon. I still couldn’t keep the middle stages in order after all of this time. Now I will never forget. Thank you!

  54. Evee

    Thanks this helped me for a nursing exam tomorrow. I cant wait to share with my fellow nursing sudents. They might thinks ive cracked under the pressure so Im going to take my labtop to school and let them watch for themselves! You are awesome Thank you!

  55. Michael

    Evee – I love that idea of bringing your laptop to school to show the video to your friends. Did you do it?

  56. Sarah

    The “inferiority” reminds me of “furry” because he’s furry from the dust. But thank you so much for this!

  57. eilish

    Thank you so much, for the life of me I couldn’t remember erikson’s stages and exams are next week. Stumbled on your website and I can remember them all now….gonna get some funny looks rhyming to myself but I am THRILLED I found you.
    Keep up the good work
    From Ireland :)

  58. Eleina

    You are amazing Michael.. like… seriously.
    It really worked. HAHAHA!
    This would definitely help me on my NCLEX.

    Never knew memorizing long lists of stuffs can be sooooo entertaining! :O
    Keep it up sir! 😉

  59. Terry

    This is really great! Thank you for taking the time to do this and share this! I was having such a difficult time trying to figure out a way to memorize these and this helped so much!

  60. shirley

    I have been trained in a child care field,I wish I knew this b4 writing my assignment

  61. Jean

    Studying for the Psych GRE Subject Test over here. This was so helpful, thank you for putting the time in to it! I really hope you make more of these!

  62. KRP

    I am also a nursing student and this has helped me tremendously! This is awesome! Thank you so much!

  63. ED

    Thank you, this was so helpful. Been putting off memorizing this one, this really helped. Awesome:)

  64. YUP

    I had to take the time to say thank you, since you took the time to make this awesome video. I couldn’t grasp the concept and thanks to you it finally makes sense. I’m looking at the page in my text now and thinking, how could I not understand this!!! Now I get it!!! sincere thanks from a medic and nursing student!!

  65. Natalie

    Using to study for the GRE subject test, and it is helping sooo much! Thank you!

  66. jessssica:)

    omg i love you thanks for making this videooo i dont have to skip my psychology testt again tomoroooow=]

  67. Michael

    Don’t skip your psyc test! Go in there with a fighting attitude! Glad you liked the video :)

  68. Tae

    This has helped me memorized Erikson’s 8 stage in like 4 mins, how cool is that…..(Thumbs up)

  69. John

    Wow! I cant believe it worked! I was laughing as I could repeat everything without notes! It really works!!!

  70. Oddie Girl

    This is genius!!! I wish I found this when I was in nursing school, it’s extremely helpful! I could never figure out how to memorize this before, but I really appreciate you taking the time to make this because it’ll help me when I take my nursing boards :)

  71. Surita

    This is the way to learn remember the stages in order for me ! Thanks for the video !

  72. Nursing Student

    This is SO incredibly helpful! Can you help with Pharmacology drug cards, too?? Fantastic test help! Thank you!

  73. David

    Wow! I have to admit, when I first started watching, I was a little skeptical, but this worked really well. I’m getting my BSN right now and I have always struggled with Erikson’s stages. The worst part is that we need them for our clinical care plans which are worth a large percentage. I can’t wait to use this in school! Thanks so much for your help, and keep up the good work!! You’re a godsend!!

  74. Melanie

    This video was extremely helpful…I’ve got them down pat now! Thank you SO much!!! =)

  75. Audra

    I have a HUGE Theories of Personality midterm in a little over an hour and I was having the hardest time remembering all 8 stages, and in order. While the video was silly, it helped tremendously and now I will never forget these stages! Thank you so much for this!

  76. Anonymous

    Thanks so much for this!
    I’m have a BA in Psych and could never remember these. Now I’m in nursing school and so glad I found this.
    Thanks for the help!!!

  77. Anum

    Your creativity in this video made me beam!
    I remember all the stages now after watching the video just once.. And i’ve never been able to memorize the 8 stages (i’ve always thought rote learning was a waste of space!)

    Thanks! :)

    I hope this comes on my exam now. :)

  78. Sarah

    I’m also a nursing major sitting here freaking out about all my exams…but this video is AMAZING!! Helps me memorize Erikson’s stages quickly and helpfully. If only I could find videos like this for all my classes…Thanks SO MUCH! :)

  79. Michael

    Thanks for the comments everyone! Hope you “kill” that test. Feel free to let me know if there’s some other topic that you need a mnemonic for.

  80. Olivia

    THANK YOU so much for making this!!! Studying for the LCSW exam, and for the life of me could not get these stages down…I watched your video once, and can now name all the stages perfectly! THANK YOU again!!!!

  81. Sierra

    OMG I have been trying to learn these all day and I had them all down by the end of your video. You are a life saver (I have a midterm tomorrow.) keep the videos coming!

  82. Taryn

    YES! Thank you so much for posting this. Yet another Nursing student here and Erickson was just not sticking in my brain.Now I’ll always remember the stages. Though I’ve heard it described before, this is the first time I’ve seen the mnemonic peg word technique used. I’ll definitely be using it from now on for those concepts that just won’t stick. “Dis Pear” and the dusty afro on the dinosaur had me cracking up!

  83. Anon

    Thanks so much. Preparing for NCLEX, at first I was like what is this? Then I paused it and realized that I had already got half memorized just from watching! Its amazing! Wish I have known this when I was in nursing school. Genius! Thanks a bunch!

  84. Lydia

    Thank you so much for the help! I'm taking the NCLEX in a few hours and with everything I have to know just couldn't seem to shove Erickson's stages in there as well! Now I've got them!

  85. Nursing Student

    Thank you so much!! I've come across this soooo many times in my academic career
    and I just have not been able to make it stick! now desperate for help while studying for my nclex I am looking up mnemonics for basically everything and this really does work!! thank you so much for making this fun video!! wish I had found it YEARS ago! I do wish you had included the 'ages' that correlated with each stage.

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  87. Dayana

    It would help those better to actually act it out, draw or physical activities related to the video to remember. Memorizing by experience is what helps me best and I’m sure others can find it helpful to use other helpful ways to remember other them visual or audio. It was a funny video and I know that can also help remember quite a bit. Thank you.

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  89. Nursing Student

    It worked! I remember all of them now. Now I must resist giggling to myself due to my funny imagery during exams :)
    Thanks for this very helpful and fun video.

  90. Michael

    No problem. I get your reaction all the time – people don’t think it’ll work because it’s silly. Doesn’t matter how silly mnemonics are – they simply work.

  91. ness

    Before I watched your video, I was thinking to myself “Lord… How am I going to memorize all these?” :O I’m so happy that I discovered your video. Thank you! It made me laugh SO much and helped me memorized it! You made learning so much fun. You rock!

  92. Deepa

    Hey Michael, I am appearing for my Learning Disability Diploma test this Saturday, I am so glad I stumbled upon this mnemonic of yours, thanks a ton.
    Deepa from Mumbai

  93. Anna

    Hi Michael,
    THANK YOU so much for this video! I am a nursing student and was having a hard time memorizing these developmental stages, after watching your video ONCE I got them down!! THANK YOU!

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