Summary / Abstract

Title: A developmental social psychology of identity: understanding the person-in-context

Synopsis: This essay focuses on the socialization of identity formation. It provides a theory about thedevelopmental social psychology of identity. A set of propositions are derived from the authors'reading, research, culturalobservations and clinical experience regarding adolescent identity formation. The essay covers the socialization process, nature ofthe self, processes of growth and development, person-in-context, and a statement on the linkage between macro- andmicro-environmental influences on identity. The theoretical propositions are offered for their potential heuristic utility in thestudy of identity formation during adolescence and young adulthood. self, adolescence, social psychology, Adams, socialization, influence, identity formation, context, nature, propositions, micro, environments, macro, essay, understanding, growth, life system, differentiation, young adulthood, integration, human development, York Free Press, ego identity, theoretical propositions, micro level, perspectives, University Press, diverse academic disciplines, Professionals, heuristic utility,

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journal adolescence 1996 19 429 442 developmental social psychology identity understanding person context gerald r adams sheila k marshall essay focuses socialization identity formation provides theory developmental social psychology identity propositions derived authors reading research cultural observations clinical experience regarding adolescent identity formation essay covers socialization process nature self processes growth development person incontext statement linkage macro micro environmental influences identity theoretical propositions offered potential heuristic utility study identity formation adolescence young adulthood 1996 association professionals services adolescents introduction varying uses concept identity found diverse academic disciplines mathematics biology chemistry art history psychology sociology e g see bosma et al 1994 psychologists psychiatrists sociologists particular means understanding selfhood individuality e g see yardley honess 1987 lapsley power 1988 breakwell 1992 kroger 1993 archer 1994 scholars adolescence trained psychological sciences refer writings erik erikson 1968 inspiration theoretical guidance erikson neopsychoanalytic writings based sexual drive system detailed sigmund freud focused sharply psychosocial system interconnections individual development perspective inspired highly productive line research marcia 1967 conceptualization identity status paradigm inspired extrapolated erikson writings research identity statuses focused validation identity types possible stage like relationships identity states association identity intimacy e g see kroger 1989 1993 marcia et al 1993 study selfhood individuality adolescence psychiatric sciences remained long committed fundamental writings identity connections puberty conflict free conflict laden energies changes family dynamics second final resolution oedipal complex e g see freud 1936 1965 blos 1962 unfortunately mere scant number empirical investigations undertaken study identity perspectives see bosma et al 1994 1 sociological sciences self identity form individual reprint requests correspondence addressed dr g adams department family studies university guelph guelph ontario canada n1g 2w1 0140 1971 96 05042914 18 00 0 1996 association professionals services adolescents 430 g r adams k marshall group considered numerous influential sociologists e g charles horton cooley talcott parsons emile durkheim single school thought sociology appears greater focus self symbolic interactionism mead 1934 multitude scientific investigations based components mead writings observations see cook et al 1995 treatise extrapolates scholars contemporary colleagues social sciences build theoretical propositions regarding identity formation individual social contextual planes indicated apparent source evidence observation stimulated formulation proposition nature socialization individuality relatedness multidisciplinary reading family relations human development literature resulted general assumptions nature socialization fundamental necessity assure individual social survival e g damon 1983 blos 1985 grotevant cooper 1986 hauser et al 1991 schlegel barry 1991 socialization broad sense tendencies establish maintain relations individuals ensure integration respect individuals participants society regulates behaviours societal codes damon 1983 glance process socialization human development appears based paradoxical association two opposing factors duality agency communion individuality vs collectivity self vs agency individual function socialization focuses need processes associated individuation uniqueness separateness communion social function socialization centres need processes facilitate belongingness connectedness union opposites actually false oppositions term damon 1995 false opposition readily seen damon 1983 concluding analysis writings james mark baldwin early pioneer field child development states communion individuation extent distinct possibility actions service stand opposition normal course development go hand hand supporting growth creative tension two dialectical interplay needs individual maintain relations needs individual construct separate self individual construct self context relations time individual step confines relations forge unique destiny p 5 individuals need sense uniqueness sense belonging socialization literature ways argue demonstrate individual social functions socialization serve psychological social feelings self significant matters defined self esteem perceptions mattering see erikson 1964 rosenberg 1985 feeling significant mattering individual feeling counts makes difference signifies rosenberg 1985 p 215 individual level involves personal agency group level mattering signifies communion belonging 431 developmental social psychology identity individual function restate position individual function socialization enhances sense self unique individuated person underlying process supporting features differentiation intrapersonally process centres differentiation aspects self interpersonal differentiation focuses emergence autonomous self socialization facilitates differentiation result sense mattering feeling significant self autonomous individual varying differentiated valued salient important self features turning research identity parallels individual function socialization autonomous self investigated form ego identity ideological identity personal identity marcia et al 1993 studied behaviourally form self assertions social function social function socialization enhances sense belonging caring significant underlying process social function integration intrapersonally involves selection organization aspects social context personally meaningful individual constructs identity socially possible faces voices interpersonally integration centres involvement connection communion socialization facilitates integration result sense mattering form social collective identity social function socialization paralleled themes integration relatedness identity literature relational themes identity social function josselson 1987 sampson 1989 propositional form condense follows 1 social individual functions socialization indicate underlying need identity human individual dynamic need individuated unique special social dynamic need belong connected union fellowship dynamics serve psychological social feelings self perceptions mattering oneself 2 individual dynamic need enhance sense self unique individuated person intrapersonally centres differentiation aspects self interpersonal processes focus emergence autonomous self socialization facilitates individual dynamic result sense mattering self autonomous individual varying differentiated valued self features 3 social dynamic need enhance sense belonging mattering significant intrapersonal processes focuses construction self socially possible faces voices interpersonal processes centre communion connectedness socialization processes facilitate need result sense mattering form social collective role interpersonal group identity balance processes interpersonal differentiation integration critical healthy human development erikson 1968 grotevant cooper 1986 papini 1994 high degree differentiation results extreme uniqueness individual 432 g r adams k marshall likely met lack acceptance communion low interpersonal integration individual lead marginalization drifting periphery life system individuals community marginalized persons build join life system meets need communion low integration life system diminish individuals sense mattering commitments particular social roles schlossberg 1989 conversely extreme connectedness low interpersonal differentiation life system curtail individuals sense uniqueness agency leave individuals prone difficulties adapting new circumstances e g see josselson 1987 point individual social functions socialization considered light influence human development individuals identities seen living growing active evolving life systems individuals shape shaped essence physical social economic spiritual personal lives ford lerner 1992 individual essential unit group family school community living individual actions affects state proposition 4 individual personal social identity shaped living systems individual individual identity shape change nature living systems essence processes differentiation integration undergird socialization human development function support life growth living systems conceptual analytic literature family theory minuchin 1974 sociology social psychology manheim 1952 martindale 1960 gergen 1982 human development ford lerner 1992 influential shaping notions nature life systems differentiation individuals system interpersonal differentiation intra system differentiation allows individuals make unique contributions facilitate adaptive evolution life system inter system differentiation groups centres emergence autonomous group identity communion individuals group interpersonal connectedness intra system connectedness supports communal life constructing cohesive structure inter system communion focuses connections life systems connections life systems support intergroup compatibility acceptance tolerance diminishing defensiveness friction discrimination communion life systems effects permeability individual systems interactions systems result exchanges facilitate adaptative evolution systems threaten uniqueness identity life system founded dynamics integration relatedness underlying need identity human paralleled need life system identity individuals balance differentiation integration critical life system high valuation emphasis differentiation individuality system likely result difficulties maintaining continuity cohesion members time system disintegrate differentiation members high high valuation differentiation systems inhibit permeability functions facilitate adaptive nature 433 developmental social psychology identity system autonomous nature system emerge sharp contrast systems emphasis connections system diminish individual autonomy hamper emergence new ideas allow group evolve adapt time high valuation connections systems result permeability system lack distinctive features propositional form advance 5 differentiation integration serve shape identity life systems identity necessary human social groups contributes structural characteristics permeability continuity coherence life system permeability adaptive nature system relationship systems continuity coherence give structure identifiable features time nature selfhood numerous essays analyses treatises essence nature self identity particular see bourne 1978a b marcia 1980 co te levine 1988 waterman 1988 earlier conceptual theoretical writings e g adams 1977 adams et al 1992 thoughts influenced perspectives egopsychology erikson 1964 loevinger 1976 sociology self image rosenberg 1989 psychology individualism waterman 1984 decision making informational styles identity berzonsky 1992 psychology developing self damon 1983 leahy 1985 social psychological interdisciplinary analyses e g baumeister 1986 1991a b strengths diversified perspectives drawn working propositions central understanding selfhood study identity shall merely state propositions referring readers foundation sources greater consideration undergirding evidence move focal concerns special issue identity context 6 identity social psychological construct reflects social influences imitation identification processes active self construction creation important self 7 active self constructive aspects identity founded cognitive ego operations organize structure construct reconstruct knowledge self 8 identity psychological structure self regulatory system functions direct attention filter process information manage impressions select appropriate behaviours 9 like social psychological constructs identity functional purpose five commonly documented functions identity providing structure understanding b providing meaning direction commitments values goals c providing sense personal control free d striving consistency coherence harmony values beliefs commitments e enabling recognition potential sense future possibilities alternative choices 434 g r adams k marshall processes growth development baumeister 1986 historical analysis identity reveals different societies society different times provide different levels choice construction self extreme society provide social structure identity assigned lineage gender primarily determined imitation identification processes extreme society require choice incompatible alternatives e g motherhood vs career two extremes societies degrees choice achievement self transformation baumeister 1991a b wrote self search meaning argues need escaping self burden finding meaning placed individual construct maintain concludes apocalyptic tone movement modern society critically weakened culture powerful value bases e g religion marriage work ethic result value gap severe shortage firm bases distinguishing right wrong justifying legitimizing actions guiding individual moral choices value gap serious problem life meaning characterizes modern society modern life offers abundant ways satisfying needs meaning value culture responded value gap ways important transformation selfhood major value base baumeister 1991b p 365 parentheses added generous extrapolations baumeister work suggests identity founded meanings values assigned selected western societies identity thought heavily selected available choices subcultural differences likely society value base principles goals assigned societal institutions acquired identification imitation created established individual selfconstructed ford 1992 provided list goals life likely fill major value base maintenance promotion self maintenance promotion people social groups p 92 values goals feeling unique freedom act valued cared keeping interpersonal commitments fairness caring goals erikson 1964 notions ego strengths healthy psychological functions believe value goals new emerging value bases selfhood identity formation drives construction reconstruction identity compels individual select value base underlies meaning early research child development focused identification imitation major mechanisms social development e g sears et al 1957 comparison psychoanalytic theory places driving mechanism form conflict emotional resolutions blos 1962 lead idealization ego ideal autonomy cognitive life span development theorists placed dissonance dialectics e g festinger 1957 riegel 1976 social psychologists e g wicklund 1975 argued self awareness central motivator change perspectives share mechanism mild moderate self awareness distress discomfort confrontation resolution work self consciousness perspective taking dialectic thought adams fitch 1983 adams et al 1987 markstrom adams et al 1993 leads believe processes identity formation influenced dialectic like processes involve distress 435 developmental social psychology identity incompatibility incompleteness inconsistency confrontation followed synthesis resolution childhood socialization processes identification imitation identity formation completely replaced adolescence adulthood dialectic processes processes mutually exclusive identification imitation useful processes adolescence adulthood individuals experiment alternative values beliefs ways function resolving distress arises awareness need change processes identification imitation varying degrees individuals processes associated dialectic processes leading synthesis resolution identity status literature suggests individuals likely explore options likely identify imitate marcia et al 1993 conversely individuals experience greater awareness incongruities distress turn seek information arrive resolution see identity styles described berzonsky 1989 degree individuals identification imitation dialectic processes simply function individual differences structure life systems individual embedded function shape processes involved identity formation social settings source influence shaping identity formation processes societies provide institutionalized situations individuals identify imitate roles western society fan clubs movie stars sports heroes fashion models build notion expectancy conformity high cohesion group members facilitate identification imitation contrast social settings provide awareness distress confrontation resolution institutionalized experience leads dialectic processes native american practice marking transition childhood adulthood long periods isolation fasting meditation wilderness search spirit guardians experiences create self awareness force confrontation self create expectation discovery institutionalized circumstance identity formation based primarily individuals establishment meaningful value system type setting holds greater ambiguity selection psychological interpersonal goals circumstances greater opportunity individuals experience dialectic tension opposing choices resolution believe dialectic processes identity resolution function individual experiencing incongruity self known real self self ideal self large discrepancies create anxiety surrounding perceived distance sense yearning congruity coherence purpose yearning salient processes identification imitation processes utilized resolve incongruity underlying yearning human faith erikson 1968 refers fidelity faith ability know reach goal resolve incongruity essence aware incongruity resolve distress person degree faith metaphors shipwreck gladness amazement described parks 1986 understand human faith useful growth argued begins suffering let go level belief feel collapse self disorientation bewilderment feelings emptiness drained rich connections offer sense significance delight purpose feel shipwrecked parks 1986 states 436 g r adams k marshall shipwreck precipitated events loss relationship violence property collapse career venture physical illness injury defeat cause fateful moral choice irrevocably reorders life betrayal community government discovery intellectual construct inadequate p 24 shipwreck dissolves meanings served time ship travel new shore gladness shipwreck come transform discover move loss new robust ways knowing understanding gladness experience amazement survival shipwreck tells survive amazed strengthened parks 1986 states says metaphors shipwreck gladness amazement point dynamic transformative character faith add identity recover faith verb powerful activity provisionally distinguished static notions religion belief value bases faith dynamic composing multi faceted activity faith active dialogue promise motion shipwreck gladness amazement describes primary crises meaning punctuate story lives rocking flowing tumbling motion day dwell continual dialectic fear trust hope hopelessness power powerlessness doubt confidence alienation belonging p 26 process identity formation generate faith extent individuals experience incongruity loss crises meaning able determine resolution self work individuals erikson baumeister parks maintain propositions evolving developmental social psychology identity propositions focus forces transformation change 10 identity ongoing process altered processes identification imitation b self awareness self focusing self consciousness heightened incongruity exists self known real self self ideal self 11 identity assigned selected modern technologically complex societies selected selected psychological interpersonal goals based values individuation feeling unique self determination freedom act social approval valued belonging cared social responsibility keeping ideological interpersonal commitments equity fairness justice caring 12 society sensitive points life cycle rites rituals institutional expectations regulations heighten self focusing behaviours identity formation sensitive points referred life stages phases e g adolescence midlife crisis sensitive point socially recognized informally stated social expectations maturing individual expected address experience thought individual choices selftransformations person context original assumption treatise identity develops individual social functions identity processes differentiation integration 437 developmental social psychology identity undergird social experience dialogue knowledge transmission discussion forms human relatedness social psychological processes come influence sense self social experiences individuals shape social process society turn shapes individuals humans relationally embedded context essential feature self readily seen essays commentary empirical analyses contemporary social scientists interested adolescence young adulthood e g gilligan et al 1990 silbereisen todt 1994 grotevant cooper 1986 highly readable account adolescents parents adapt individual patterns growth life stage tasks provided steinberg steinberg 1994 examination adolescence trigger parental midlife crises broad analysis adolescence adams et al 1994 argue understand person context utilize developmental contextualist perspective see lerner 1995 excellent depiction contextual nature person context provided study family schools community structural expectations standards facilitate successful adolescent transition young adulthood ianni 1989 comparison thousands adolescents living urban suburban rural communities ianni demonstrates complex contextual influence shapes adolescents behaviours aspirations identities founded social comparison mechanism society shown sort youths mould sense self ianni reveals communities adults express consistent values expectations adolescents develop positive sense self aspirations goals purpose direction commitment identity personal social responsibility self perceptions power mastery contrast communities riddled conflict despair poverty family school community fail offer cogent consistent directional goals expectations result youth drifting unconventional behaviours role confusion cynicism diffused sense self ianni 1989 argues adolescents engaging search structure believable attainable expectations standards form loose collection shared understandings refers community youth charter words implications youth charter teenagers active constructive participants getting know social worlds community institutions environments adolescents observe interacting effects actions actions evaluate modify behavior response judgments youngster decide view behave like particular person group depending judgments attached model peers significant adults charter provides source feedback doing individual develops self evaluations son daughter student friend p 264 developmental contextualist perspective attention study individuals psychological processes meaning processes social physical economic contexts function study contextual features person embedded understand utility individual personal social identity useful condensation nature self identity sociological perspective offers framework examining person context gecas burke 1995 suggest social psychological perspectives self identity characterized 438 g r adams k marshall four different foci 1 situational emphases placed emergence maintenance self face face person context interactions 2 social structural attention consequences role relationships features social groups 3 biographical historical self studied cultural historical construction 4 intrapersonal focus social cognitive processes self nature personality affects behaviour argued foci parsimonious productive understanding human social behaviour interface foci personin context research agenda understanding person context search macro micro level environmental features help shape fabric identity social experiences cooperative competitive contextual relational features knowledge generated shared relational contexts research literature cited propositions emerge 12 like personal knowledge self constructed relational context identity constructed person context 13 relational influences macro environmental features culture economics population demographics politics institutional values physical environments social class caste race ethnic membership micro level features interpersonal communication conversation written word media common routine daily interactions 14 macro micro environmental features influence identity formation shared values ideologies norms socially constructed communicated signs symbols meanings expectations found language discourse communication linkages macro micro environments argued macro micro environmental features combine interface influence identity formation erikson 1968 speaks social structural technological historical features influence identity baumeister 1986 written influences cultural change identity phinney 1993 addresses minority status identity formation adams fitch 1983 explored influences educational environments identity macro micro levels found varying forms influences identity formation contended essay primary mechanisms stimulate transformation identity self awareness self focusing self consciousness due dialectic incongruent thoughts feelings behaviours achieve coherence temporary balance mental states differentiation integration reduce incongruence imbalance whitbourne 1986 provides extensive detail disequilibrium process identity formation new transformation new self known brings real self closer ideal self ideal self fully obtainable self constructs identity searches acceptable employable values 439 developmental social psychology identity goals common values focus individuation self determination social approval belonging social responsibility equity caring sense identity attained functional purposes observed identity function provide structure understanding self sense meaning direction feeling personal control harmony values beliefs commitments recognition potential based possible goals alternative choices possible futures proposed links macro micro levels influence individuality shared ideologies signs symbols messages present cultural historical economic religious dimensions society day day social interactions occur people macro level messages expressed different forms leadership economic systems political ideologies social policies cultural messages signs symbols e g see co te allahar 1994 simonton 1994 micro level messages expressed forms dialogue conversation gossip discussion occurs face face recent report adolescents risk panel highrisk youth 1993 interface macro micro level influences described chapter neighbourhoods macro level influences poverty racial ethnic stratification crime rates policing practices forth determine availability micro level influences role models represent intact fully employed family members alternative ethnic cultural group behaviours values variations professional educational occupational life styles concentrations undesirable macrolevel features increase likelihood restricted role models identification imitation lead micro level behavioural interactions filled threatening constricted social interactions issues safety minimize secure sense community circumstances formation negative identity potential restricting choice present conclude agreement recent statement steinberg 1995 sufficient simply specify aspects proximal distal environments adolescents live link features aspects adolescent functioning examining social psychological processes mediate links field needs systematic discussion basic social psychological processes imitation social influence social comparison social referencing need keep mind contextual influence mediated sort interpersonal process need work development models specify processes operate adolescence p 252 preparing essay attempted make linkages outlined essential features socialization nature selfhood processes growth development person context links features social processes identification imitation social reference dialectic processes social comparison differentiation integration developmental social psychological view identity offers propositions heuristic utility directing research assessing degree evidence supports refutes assumptions detailed essay acknowledgements support preparation essay provided social sciences humanities research council canada research study leave first author 440 g r adams k marshall university guelph division family resources west virginia university morgantown wv graciously provided office space leave second author supported social science humanities research council doctoral fellowship version essay titled thoughts past present future identity research gerald adams invited address meetings society research identity formation dog island florida references adams g r 1977 physical attractiveness research developmental social psychology beauty human development 20 217 239 adams g r fitch 1983 psychological environments 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