Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Rigaud, Joseph


Theories shape society and become a powerful influence on major social decisions. While society has changed over time, some theories—developed decades ago—have remained the same. Among them is the Psychosocial Development Theory developed in the early 1960s by German-American developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst Erik Erikson. Because theories inform practice, it is important to assess their validity. Although widely used over the years and across many disciplines, this theory has not been adequately tested, as the body of scholarship that assesses its empirical contribution is relatively limited in scope. That is, to the researcher’s knowledge, no studies have been conducted under a retrospective perspective that uses all stages of Erikson’s Psychosocial Development Theory. This study determined the extent to which the aforementioned theory holds true in the 21st century. Using descriptive statistics and Mann-Whitney U Test on a sample of 25 participants, this study found that (1) the Eriksonian model has a 52 percent validity rate and (2) gender and race do not correlate with life satisfaction across the lifespan at the 95 percent confidence interval. These findings have implications for theory, research, social work practice, and social work education.