Identity in young adulthood: Links with mental health and risky behavior

Seth J. Schwartz, Sam A. Hardy, Byron L. Zamboanga, Alan Meca, Alan S. Waterman, Simona Picariello, Koen Luyckx, Elisabetta Crocetti, Su Yeong Kim, Aerika S. Brittian, Sharon E. Roberts, Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Rachel A. Ritchie, Elissa J. Brown, Larry F. Forthun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The present study was conducted to contribute to our understanding of young adult identity development by deriving latent profiles from intrapersonal and interpersonal indices of identity synthesis and confusion. A sample of 9737 college-attending young adults completed measures of identity, mental health, and health risk behaviors. Four latent profiles emerged: Synthesized (high synthesis, low confusion), Diffused (moderate synthesis, high confusion), Elevated (high synthesis and confusion), and Moderate (moderate synthesis and confusion). The Synthesized profile was associated with the highest well-being and the lowest levels of internalizing, externalizing, and health risks. The Diffused and Elevated profiles were both associated with low well-being and with high internalizing, externalizing, and risky behaviors - with the Elevated profile highest on all of the negative outcomes. The Moderate profile scored intermediately on well-being, internalizing, externalizing, and health risks. These results are discussed in terms of the role of identity within a successful transition to adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-52
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Externalizing
  • Health risks
  • Identity
  • Internalizing
  • Well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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