Characterizing the Self-System over Time in Adolescence: Internal Structure and Associations with Internalizing Symptoms

Seth J. Schwartz, Theo A. Klimstra, Koen Luyckx, William W. Hale, Wim H.J. Meeus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Scopus citations


The longitudinal effects among self and identity processes, and between these processes and internalizing symptoms, are not well understood. As a result, the present study was designed to ascertain the over-time effects among identity commitment, reconsideration of commitments, and self-concept clarity, as well as to map the interplay of these self and identity processes with anxiety and depressive symptoms in early adolescence. A sample of 923 Dutch adolescents (mean age 12. 4 years at Time 1; 49. 3% female) participated at each of five annual assessments. Multivariate growth curve and cross-lagged panel models indicated that the association between self-concept clarity and commitment was bidirectional, that reconsideration occurs based on problems or dissatisfaction with self-concept clarity and with identity commitments, and that self-concept clarity (but not commitment or reconsideration) temporally precedes depressive and anxiety symptoms. Results are discussed in terms of the structure of the self-system and its associations with internalizing symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1208-1225
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012



  • Anxiety symptoms
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Early adolescence
  • Personal identity
  • Self-concept clarity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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