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01-07-2011 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 7/2011

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 7/2011

Examining the Light and Dark Sides of Emerging Adults’ Identity: A Study of Identity Status Differences in Positive and Negative Psychosocial Functioning

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 7/2011
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


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.

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