Examining the light and dark sides of emerging Adults' identity: A study of identity status differences in positive and negative psychosocial functioning

Seth J. Schwartz, Wim Beyers, Koen Luyckx, Bart Soenens, Byron L. Zamboanga, Larry F. Forthun, Sam A. Hardy, Alexander T. Vazsonyi, Lindsay S. Ham, Su Yeong Kim, Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Alan S. Waterman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

157 Scopus citations

Abstract

Identity is a critical developmental task during the transition to adulthood in Western societies. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate an empirically based, cluster-analytic identity status model, to examine whether all four of Marcia's identity statuses (diffusion, foreclosure, moratorium, and achievement) would emerge empirically, and to identify different patterns of identity formation among American college-attending emerging adults. An ethnically diverse sample of 9,034 emerging-adult students (73% female; mean age 19.73 years) from 30 U. S. universities completed measures of identity exploration (ruminative, in breadth, and in depth) and commitment (commitment making and identification with commitment), identity synthesis and confusion, positive and negative psychosocial functioning, and health-compromising behaviors. The identity status cluster solution that emerged provided an adequate fit to the data and included all four of Marcia's original identity statuses, along with Carefree Diffusion and Undifferentiated statuses. Results provided evidence for concurrent validity, construct validity, and practical applicability of these statuses. Implications for identity research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)839-859
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Volume40
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2011

Keywords

  • Cluster analysis
  • Depression
  • Emerging adulthood
  • Health-compromising behavior
  • Identity
  • Psychosocial functioning
  • Well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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