Identity Centrality and Psychosocial Functioning: A Person-Centered Approach

Alan Meca, Rachel A. Ritchie, Wim Beyers, Seth J. Schwartz, Simona Picariello, Byron L. Zamboanga, Sam A. Hardy, Koen Luyckx, Su Yeong Kim, Susan K. Whitbourne, Elisabetta Crocetti, Elissa J. Brown, Cynthia G. Benitez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


There has been increased recognition that identity operates within several “components” and that not every component is likely to be equally central to one’s sense of self. The aim of the current study was to determine the extent to which identity components (i.e., personal, relational, collective, and public) are differentially central to emerging adults’ identity. We used a two-step cluster analytic procedure to identify distinct clusters and determine how these configurations might differ in relation to psychosocial functioning (i.e., well-being, externalizing and internalizing symptoms, illicit drug use, risky sex, and impaired driving). The sample consisted of 8,309 college students (72.8% female; Mage = 19.94 years, 18–29, SD = 2.01) from 30 U.S. colleges and universities. Analyses identified six unique clusters based on the centrality of the four identity components. The findings indicated that a more well-rounded identity was associated with the most favorable psychosocial functioning. Results are discussed in terms of important directions for identity research and practical implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-339
Number of pages13
JournalEmerging Adulthood
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 9 2015


  • cluster analysis
  • college
  • identity
  • identity centrality
  • psychosocial functioning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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