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Links:      •  Self Test
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decorative star graphic  Adolescence:
Psychosocial Development
- The Self & Identity -

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"Who Am I?"

Ψ  During adolescence, the goal of many teens is to establish an identity.

Ψ  Identity: A consistent definition of one’s self as a unique individual, in terms of roles, attitudes, beliefs and aspirations.

Ψ  The 1st step in the identity process is to establish the integrity of personality - that is, to align emotions, thinking, & behavior be consistent no matter what the place, time, circumstances or social relationship.

Ψ  As they try to establish identities, adolescents encounter Identity vs Role Confusion: Erickson’s 5th stage of development in which the person tries to figure out "Who am I" but is confused as to which of the many roles to adopt.

    Throughout adolescence, a teen may experience more than one Identity Status:

Ψ  Identity Achievement: Erickson’s term for attainment of identity-ideally established by reconsidering the goals & values set by the parents &culture, then accepting some & rejecting others. Four specfic aspects / areas of identity achievement follow.

•  Religious
 •  Sexual / Gender
  •  Political / Ethnic
   •  Vocational

It's a Mickey Mouse World , isn't it?

    Foreclosure: When adolescents accept their parents or society’s roles and values without questioning them or exploring alternatives.

    Negative Identity: When adolescents adopt an identity that is opposite what is expected of them. Usually occurs when adolescents feel that the roles their parents and society expect them to fulfill are unattainable or unappealing, yet they cannot find any alternatives that are truly their own.

    Identity Diffusion: When an adolescent does not seem to know or care what his identity is. Typically, these teens have few commitments to the goals or values of their parents, peers, or larger society.

    Identity Moratorium: Erickson’s term for a pause in identity formation that allows young people to explore alternatives without making final identity choices.

Ψ  Institutions that permit a moratorium on finding identity:
    Peace Corp
     Religious Missions

Society & Identity

Ψ  Finding an identity is affected by forces outside the individual. The surrounding culture can aid identity formation in two major ways:

     By providing values that have stood the test of time and that continue to serve their function.
     By providing social structures & customs that ease the transition from childhood to adulthood.

Multiple Selves

    Adolescents display three distinct types of multiple (false) selves. (Harter et. al. 1996)

    The acceptable false self arises from the adolescent's perception that the real self is rejected by parents & peers. May cause a sense of worthlessness, depression, & hopelessness.
   The pleasing false self arises from a wish to impress or please others. Quite common. Better than false self arising from rejection.
   The experimental false self arises from the need to "try out" different identities to see how they feel. A.k.a the possible self.

Growth & Development
Robert C. Gates