Marcia mckittrick where is she now

Identity finding in adolescence

Interpret the song "The Feeling" (text: Frank Ramond) from the album "Bohéme" by Annett Louisan on the background of individual and social psychological models of identity development (e.g. Freud, Erikson, Marcia).

The feeling

Again it sneaks up from behind
and it asks me if it can help
It flatters me with plush and velvet
and says "Look at you".
The feeling is out of the box
and it looks so great again,
and life becomes a warehouse
I'll keep it on
Forever come and go
tried them on more than once.
Too narrow here, too strict there
I'm pinched somewhere.
Too bizarre, not my style
the feeling doesn't suit me.
I'm just looking around
just look around
The feeling creeps up on me again
asks me quietly what I really want.
And then it sends me to April
and says "We're not there!"
The feeling is like the latest craze
it hardly disappears and passes.
Then you laugh at it and think along the way
"Oh how stupid I was"
Forever come and go
tried them on more than once.
Too narrow here, too strict there ...

The feeling is out of the box
and it's already taking off my shoes.
But life is not a department store
because it takes nothing back.
Too narrow here, too strict there ...

Identity describes the unique combination of personal, unmistakable data of an individual such as name, age, gender and occupation, by which the individual is characterized and can be distinguished from other people. In the narrower psychological sense, identity is the unique personality structure, connected with the image that others have of this personality structure and the understanding of one's own identity, self-knowledge and the sense of what one is or wants to be. Identity formation describes that a person becomes aware of his character or his position in the world (pupil of a certain school, member of a religious or social group, citizen of a certain country).

According to Marcia (1993), identity formation is to be distinguished from Identity constructionwhich comes about on the basis of individual decisions, in that someone deals with who he wants to be, which group he wants to join, what beliefs he wants to adopt and what profession he wants to take up. Most people initially only have one identity, which is composed on the basis of external appearances (= identity formation) and only a few acquire an identity that they have constructed themselves and are thus based on a process of individual decisions (= identity construction).

The experience of having an identity is that someone has a center, a center in themselves to which experiences and actions are related. One can meaningfully translate a person's past into the present and continue that line into the future. Individuals who have constructed their identities make sense that they have participated in this process. Not only do they know who they are, they also know how they became. In doing so, they have developed useful skills. Those who have an inherited center point, on the other hand, experience their future as the fulfillment of existing expectations (Marcia 1993).

The youth phase is for Erikson (1988, 1991) that phase in which people have to consolidate their social role, for which Western society, which is usually a time for role experimentation, provides a "psychosocial moratorium" in order to find a place in it. In comparison to primitive or dictatorial societies, for example, in which roles are fixed, democracy requires a "self-made identity", which often requires an arduous selection from numerous possibilities. The individual identity is also always determined by a group identity, so that identity also expresses a mutual relationship. According to Erikson, identity consolidation does not take place until late adolescence. It is through them that childhood ends and adulthood begins. It involves the synthesis of childhood skills, beliefs and identifications into a unified, coherent whole. In doing so, she provides the young adult with a sense of continuityintegrating the past and the future. According to Erikson, two areas in particular are decisive for the formation of identity in adolescence: "occupation" and "ideology". In his analysis of the development of identity, Erikson remains in the open formulation "a feeling of", which indicates how difficult this development is for an operationalization necessary for empirical investigation.

A few things about the concept of identity and role

The term "Role diffusion“Was mainly coined by Erikson, but the term is also often used Identity Diffusion used and defined. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, identity was characterized as a group and role identity (cf. Baacke 2003, p. 180). Perhaps that is precisely why we are talking more about identity diffusion than about role diffusion. On the other hand, role diffusion could also be a preliminary stage of identity diffusion. If one does not manage to overcome the role diffusion, one ends up in an identity diffusion (cf. Pauls 1990, p. 79).

In the process of Self-discovery or the Identity finding, this mainly takes place in the period of development from child to adult (adolescence), young people ask themselves who they are, who they want to be, how they are seen by other people and therefore often change their roles. This can lead to conflicts if the young person fails to find his / her own role in society. The youngster feels imperfect, indecisive, and confused. This problem is called roll diffusion or Role confusion designated. Finding your own social role is an important part of finding one's identity. If there are disruptions in identity development, then it is difficult for the young person to build a stable identity. Society has expectations, so the young person is often automatically pushed into a role in which he / she adapts to the outside world and hides the true self. These role specifications can lead to a diffuse identity or role, which gives the young person the feeling of being alien to his / her body. If a person has not (yet) found their own identity, i.e. their place or role in society, one speaks of one Identity Diffusion. Identity diffusion can therefore be seen as the opposite of an identity that has already been found. This identity diffusion, which is also described as role diffusion, occurs especially in adolescence. Only when the young person has found his / her role identity and a kind of self-definition with development of a personality has taken place, is talk of a solution to the crisis (cf. Angehrn 1985, p. 260). In adolescence, the search for one begins new and reliable identity (cf. Erikson 1981, p. 87). "Where the [...] self-definition becomes too difficult for personal or collective reasons, a feeling of role confusion arises: the young person counterpoints his sexual, ethnic, professional and typological alternatives instead of synthesizing them and is often driven to to definitely and totally decide for one side or the other ”(Erikson 1981, p. 87). Role diffusion is also sometimes understood to be a confusion that occurs especially in adolescence when looking for an individual self-identity. The young person tries to coordinate his / her self-image with the image that others have of him / her and to decide on an identity. If the young person does not succeed in this development or coordination process, roles can diffuse (cf. Wendt 1997, p. 210). Especially in the phase of adolescence it can be the case Identity search to Conflicts come, because in this period of time many changes (body, sexuality, job) affect the young person. The young person is forced to choose a certain role model, to think about the future, to orientate himself, to ask himself who they want to be, or how they are seen by others. If the young person fails to successfully reconcile these elements and if the young person is unsure about his / her identity or role, there is a risk of identity diffusion. This kind of confusion often triggers problems that can end in radicalism, drugs, sects or with the flight into an unreal world (cf. Rossmann 1996, p. 147 f).

Social networks and identity

Exercise a massive influence on the development of the self-image through the new media social networks in which young people can try out and present themselves in different ways. Experimentation and feedback from others help them develop their self-image, because who they are and what they can do they experience through interaction with others, with social networks providing young people with an easier way to present and share different designs of themselves check how they arrive. Often young people use it Facebook also to cope with the outward changes of puberty, d. In other words, many upload photos in order to find a positive attitude towards their own body, as they receive feedback more quickly in the network than in real life. Research has now shown that peers influence the development of ethnic identity in early adolescence, with some indications that peers of the same ethnic group, but not multiethnic ones, are particularly important for the development of this identity. Using a longitudinal analysis of social networks, Jugert, Leszczensky & Pink (2019) examined the peer influence of same- and multiethnic friends on the ethnic-racial identity bond, and it was shown that young people orientate themselves primarily towards same-ethnic friends while other-ethnic friends Friends, on the other hand, have little influence. This effect was at Young people with a migration background also more pronounced than in adolescents without one. Therefore, considering the ethnicity of peers is critical to understanding the impact of peers on development in adolescence.

Years of schooling abroad and identity development among adolescents

Psychologists have examined the effects a school year abroad has on the development of young people's identity, because they get to know other people and cultures, improve their language skills, become more independent and they experience identity crises that may shake them for a short time, but ultimately strengthen them in the long term. As a rule, the development of identity progresses relatively straightforwardly during growing up, but it has been shown that it can also go up and down in this process. For this purpose, pupils were surveyed before, during and after their year abroad (Greischel, Noack & Neyer, 2018). Because of the new impressions, young people clearly questioned their self-image and went through identity crises during which the students did not necessarily feel good, but the experiences later turned out to be positive and important.

When evaluating the development of identity, particular consideration was given to the relationship to the home country and the concept of friendship of the respondents. The international students identified themselves particularly strongly with their home country shortly after they left it, but after their return these values ​​weakened significantly. By broadening their own horizons, the students ask themselves questions that those who stayed at home don't think about, such as where they actually come from, whether they like to live in Germany or whether they can imagine a life in another country. The situation is similar with the social environment, because the ties to friends and parents also strengthened at the beginning of the stay abroad, but are more questioned after the return. Thoughts like "Does this circle of friends suit me?" and "How much do I identify myself through my friends?" emerge, causing an intense reflection process that can later turn out to be valuable. Such effects could not be determined in a comparison group.

When evaluating the results, however, it must be taken into account that most of the students who complete a year abroad are also more open and extroverted beforehand.

Identity and gender

Judith Butler has the thesis of Performativity of Gender developed, i.e. that gender is not determined solely by biological parameters, but that it is first created through speaking and acting. So what people are depends on what they do, and what they do is often beyond their control. In a person's life there are innumerable regulations and restrictions on acting according to and there are only a few possibilities existing patterns, rules and regulations to dismantle and new scope for action to tap into. In her book "The Uneasiness of the Sexes" Butler deals with the materiality of the body, the relationship between power and psyche, the political dimensions of psychoanalysis and the effects of legal discourse on those who are not authorized to participate in it. In essays, she examines the problem of kinship against the background of an ever increasing questioning of the family life form and the meaning and goals of the incest taboo, she questions the pathologization of intersexuality and transsexuality and subjects the phenomenon of sexual and ethnic panic in art censorship to a critical analysis.

Exam questions from developmental psychology:

a) Describe the basic assumptions of the model of identity development according to J. E. Marcia (1966, 1980).
b) Analyze the four levels of Marcia's identity with regard to the characteristics of self-esteem, autonomy and social interaction.

Marcia (1980) has Erikson's concept the establishment of identity and its psychosocial phases of ego development further differentiated and further developed, in particular he has made them accessible to empiricism (see below). Most identity researchers to this day rely on his approach and method. Marcia shares identity in four stages one, which he calls identity status and which are not determined solely by concrete content, but by the process variables "exploration of alternatives" and "entering into ties". The four groups resulting from this concept are the "Diffusion"who have not entered into any commitments that"Foreclosures"who have retained their childhood ties and" exclude "their own development who"Moratorium"who are in the search phase and who"Achievers"that have already formed bonds. The most important distinguishing feature between the groups is the degree of active identity search and finding." Most, though not all, individuals 'have' an identity; however, only some have a self-constructed identity based upon the superimposition of decision-making process on the given conferred identity "(Marcia 1987, p. 165).

The structure of identity is related to how experiences are treated and how important they are (cf. Marcia 1993). For him it's about the current identity status of an individual to identify using questions that capture the extent of commitment, crisis and exploration in different areas of life. With the help of the "Identity Status Interview" (ISI) the extent of the definition and exploration is measured. In terms of content, it is based on the areas of career choice, religious convictions and political ideologies, which already play an important role at Erikson. Only later was the area of ​​sexuality added.Almost all studies are based on samples from college students, however, because they are an easy-to-reach group and more complex interviews are easier to conduct with people of a higher level of education.

According to Marcia (1993), identity can be viewed under three aspects: structural, phenomenological and behavioral. The structural Aspect describes the structure of identity according to Erikson's eight-step model, the phenomenological Aspect refers to the way in which the person came to their identity and the behavioral Aspect examines the observable components of the process of identity formation and how identity ultimately shows itself in behavior. There are three central dimensions of identity status:
  • crisis: Degree of uncertainty, alarm and rebellion in an area.
  • Obligation: Amount of engagement and loyalty in an area.
  • exploration: Extent of exploration of an area of ​​life with the aim of better orientation and decision-making - crucial strategy for overcoming identity problems.

Marcia's four identity stages were known under the term Identity-Status-Model and are defined by the extent of the determination in different areas of life as well as by the extent of exploration in these areas.

The four States of identity according to Marcia (1980):

  • diffuse identity (no definition of values ​​and profession)
  • adopted identity (determination of professions or values ​​chosen by parents)
  • Moratorium (current discussion of professional or other questions of value)
  • Developed identity (determination of professions or value positions that were chosen by oneself)

Incidentally, Fend (1991) translates these status groups with the terms "diffuse", "fixed", "seeker" and "decided".

Marcia also distinguishes several possible ones Gradients in the struggle for identity:

  • Progressive courses: achieves the developed identity via the moratorium.
  • Regressive courses: end with a diffuse identity.
  • Stagnant processes: linger with the adopted or diffuse identity.

Due to a sharp increase in the proportion of diffuse identity (from 20% to 40%), Marcia (1989) analyzed the diffuse identity more precisely in a further study and distinguished four types (see also Oerter & Dreher 2002, Kraus 2003):

  • Developmental diffusion The person is developing. The conditions for a developed identity are given, but the status of the binding determination is temporarily suspended. This gives the opportunity to consider and explore alternatives. The development diffusion corresponds most closely to the original identity diffusion and is a transitional form to the moratorium or to the developed identity.
  • Carefree diffusion In this case, the person is inconspicuous and appears adjusted and sociable. But the contacts are only superficial and brief. The person is incapable of entering into professional or ideological commitments, i.e. there are no binding values.
  • Disturbed diffusion Disturbed diffusion often occurs as a result of trauma or an unresolved critical life situation. The person has a lack of internal and external resources and does not know how to cope with this life situation. As a result, she is often isolated and helps herself with unrealistic size fantasies, among other things.
  • Culturally adaptive diffusion (adaptive diffusion) For the multicultural society of the future, culturally adaptive diffusion will become increasingly important and possibly become a regular form of identity. It forms when non-commitment, openness and flexibility are required. The person feels it makes sense not to commit themselves professionally and privately in order to better meet the cultural requirements. With clear values ​​and established goals in life, the person cannot adapt so quickly to rapidly changing conditions. It is promoted by the various forms of society, with "normality" being the goal of identity.

Features of the development phases at a glance (after Tücke 1999)

Some characteristics of the identity states in different characteristics:

Examined feature
(e.g. in the field of work and values)

Diffuse identity
(no definition of profession or values)

(current discussion of professional or other questions of value)

Assumed identity (Determination of occupation or values ​​chosen by parents)

Developed identity (Determination of occupation and value positions that were chosen by yourself)

Self esteem



Low (male)
High (female)



Externally controlled

Internal control


Internal control

Cognitive style

Impulsive, extreme cognitive complexity

Reflexively, cognitively complex

Impulsive, cognitively simple

Reflexively, cognitively complex



Stereotypical relationships

Capable of deep relationships

Stereotypical relationships

Capable of deep relationships

Social interaction

Withdrawn, feel not understood by parents, listen to peers and authorities

Free, strive for intense relationships, compete

Quiet, well-behaved, happy

Show non-defensive strength, can stand up for others without self-interest

What educational measures and needs are there with regard to the four types of identity?

Young people with an identity

  • Giving responsibility according to their skills
  • Give space to try out other roles
  • Basing on decisions to build identity

Adolescents with anticipated identities

  • unsettle through critical argumentation (counter arguments)
  • to question an ideal world
  • help to break away from the parental home
  • Presupposition *) (encouragement)

Young people in the moratorium

  • Giving responsibility and time to act out a role
  • give trust
  • Help to make decisions (play through all possibilities)
  • Have time for them and talk to them

Young people with a diffuse identity

  • Help build bonds that enable stability
  • Obligations should be given to them and help you comply with them.
  • Clear advice
  • Avoid any form of cynical, sarcastic behavior

*) Presuppositions (from the Latin praesupponere - to presuppose) are implicit assumptions or language patterns with which one can assert things that one does not want to see questioned.

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Baacke, D. (2003). The 13 to 18 year olds. Introduction to the problems of adolescence. Weinheim: Beltz Verlag.

Erikson, E.H. (1988). Youth and crisis. Psychodynamics in social change. Munich: German paperback publishing house.

Erikson, E.H. (1991). Identity and Life Cycle. Frankfurt / M .: Suhrkamp.

Fend, H. (1991). Identity Development in Adolescence. Life plans, self-discovery and appropriation of the world in professional, family and political-ideological areas. Bern: Hans Huber.

Greischel, H., Noack, P. & Neyer, F. J. (2018). Oh, the Places You'll Go! How International Mobility Challenges Identity Development in Adolescence. Developmental Psychology, doi: 10.1037 / dev0000595.

Jugert, Philipp, Leszczensky, Lars & Pink, Sebastian (2019). Differential Influence of Same- and Cross-Ethnic Friends on Ethnic-Racial Identity Development in Early Adolescence. Child Development, doi: 10.1111 / cdev.13240.

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Marcia, J.E. (1988). Common processes underlying ego identity, cognitive / moral development, and individuation. In: Lapsley, P. K. & Power, F. C. Self, ego, and identity. Integrative approaches (pp. 211-225). New York: Springer.

Marcia, James E. (1989). Identity diffusion differentiated. In M. A. Luszcz & T. Nettelbeck (eds.), Psychological development across the life-span (pp. 289-295). North Holland: Elsevier.

Marcia, James E. (1993). The status of the statuses: Research review. In J. E. Marcia, A. S. Waterman, D. R. Matteson, S. L. Archer & J. L. Orlofsky (Eds.), Ego identity. A handbook for psychosocial research (pp. 22-41). New York: Springer.

Olbrich, E. & Todt, E. (1984). Problems of adolescence. Berlin: Springer.

Kraus, W. (2003). From identity armor to patchwork identity.
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Oerter, R. & Dreher, E. (2002). Identity: the central theme of adolescence. In R. Oerter & L. Montada (Eds.), Developmental Psychology. Weinheim: Beltz Verlag.

Pauls, M. (1990). Identity formation and self-awareness. Educational objectives in the technically rational society. Sankt Augustin: Academia Verlag.

Wendt, D. (1997). Developmental Psychology: An Introduction. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer GmbH.

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