Capturing ruminative exploration: Extending the four-dimensional model of identity formation in late adolescence

Koen Luyckx, Seth J. Schwartz, Michael D. Berzonsky, Bart Soenens, Maarten Vansteenkiste, Ilse Smits, Luc Goossens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

446 Scopus citations


Identity exploration has been associated with openness and curiosity but also with anxiety and depression. To explain these mixed findings, the four-dimensional identity formation model [Luyckx, K., Goossens, L., Soenens, B., & Beyers, W. (2006b). Unpacking commitment and exploration: Validation of an integrative model of adolescent identity formation. Journal of Adolescence, 29, 361-378.] was extended using data from two late adolescent samples (total N = 703). A fifth dimension, labeled ruminative (or maladaptive) exploration, was added as a complement to two forms of reflective (or adaptive) exploration already included in the model (i.e., exploration in breadth and exploration in depth). Results indicated that ruminative exploration was positively related to distress and to self-rumination. The two forms of reflective exploration, by contrast, were unrelated to well-being and positively to self-reflection. Ruminative and reflective exploration also helped to distinguish between two types of less adaptive identities (i.e., Ruminative Moratorium and Diffused Diffusion) in a six-cluster solution that also contained adaptive types of identity. Implications for current research on identity formation are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-82
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2008


  • Cluster analysis
  • Commitment
  • Exploration
  • Identity
  • Late adolescence
  • Self-rumination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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