Reconciling Social Norms With Personal Interests: Indigenous Styles of Identity Formation Among Pakistani Youth

Bushra Hassan, Vivian L. Vignoles, Seth J Schwartz

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Research on identity formation has been conducted mostly in Western contexts. We extend and complement such research by exploring qualitatively the strategies and styles of identity formation employed by emerging adults in Pakistan. Whereas Western theories of identity formation often provide a negative view of normative orientation as “blind obedience” without exploring alternatives, our thematic analysis of semistructured interviews with 12 Pakistani emerging adults suggests a much more complex interplay between personal interests and normative influences on identity formation. Participants described various ways of reconciling normative expectations (parental, religious, and cultural) with their personal interests, preferences, and explorations, when deciding about their careers, relationships, and values. In Pakistani culture, normative influences seem to play a more positive and flexible role in identity formation than is suggested by previous Western research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEmerging Adulthood
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018



  • culture
  • identity
  • indigenous psychologies
  • normative orientation
  • Pakistan
  • thematic analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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