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Written by Tazman Abramowicz, Olivia Veserat, Dieu-Hien Le, Mattew Sobel, Amy Severinsen, and Tyler Scher

About General Adolescent Identity Development

  • The identity development process is the individual’s discovery of their full potential.
  • Four “states” of adolescent’s identity status (Meeus, 2011; Meeus et al., 2012):
    • Identity achievement (the individual has established a coherent sense of identity–that is, has made commitments after a period of exploration)
    • Moratorium (the individual is in the midst of a period of exploration)
  • Identity foreclosure (the individual has made commitments but without a period of exploration)
  • Identity diffusion (the individual does not have firm commitments and is not currently trying to make them)
  • Psychosocial moratorium in identity development is the break from excessive obligations/responsibilities that could impact an adolescent’s self-discovery. This allows adolescents to have time to think about their future. For adolescents in the US, it means staying in school for a longer period of time so that they can think long and hard about what they want to do with their life (Becht et al., 2016; Meeus, va n de Schoot, Keijsers, & Branje, 2012).
  • When approaching identity development or resolving the identity crisis, there are three different orientations (Berzonsky, 2004; Syed & McLean, 2016):
    • Informational orientation (those who actively seek information and approach identity-related decisions with an open mind)
    • Normative orientation (those who attempt to conform to family and other social expectations and try to get identity-related decisions over as quickly as possible)
    • Diffuse/avoidant orientation (those who tend to procrastinate and avoid making identity-related decisions)
  •  Typically, informational orientation relates to identity achievers, normative orientation related to those who are identity foreclosed, and diffuse/avoidant orientation relates to identity diffusion (Clancy & Dollinger, 1993).