Good Choices, Poor Choices: Relationship Between the Quality of Identity Commitments and Psychosocial Functioning

Alan S. Waterman, Seth J. Schwartz, Sam A. Hardy, Su Yeong Kim, Richard M. Lee, Brian E. Armenta, Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Byron L. Zamboanga, Elissa J. Brown, Michelle K. Williams, V. Bede Agocha

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Research indicates making identity commitments on the part of emerging adults is associated with a wide range of psychosocial benefits. Data from a large research collaborative were used to evaluate hypotheses drawn from eudaimonic identity theory that the benefits of commitment are attributable to the quality of the commitments held. Findings from a study with 9,650 students attending 30 colleges and universities replicated previous research indicating the benefits of identity commitments with respect to subjective well-being, psychological well-being, self-esteem, an internal locus of control; and reduced likelihood of symptoms of general anxiety, social anxiety, and depression. However, when a measure of the quality of identity commitments was added to the analyses, results indicated that commitment quality accounted almost entirely for the associations of identity commitments with psychosocial functioning. Identity commitments of low quality were found to be associated with psychological costs rather than benefits. Implications for helping emerging adults distinguish better identity choices are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-174
Number of pages12
JournalEmerging Adulthood
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • commitment
  • eudaimonism
  • identity
  • well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Life-span and Life-course Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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