The Transitional Years
1983, Pages 66-97

3 - IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT rights and content

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This chapter discusses identity development in adolescence. Adolescence is the stage of the life cycle that is most crucial in the crystallization of identity. Identity as a concept refers to a collection of traits and personal characteristics. Traits are habitual patterns of behavior, such as honesty/dishonesty, happiness/sadness, or intelligence/stupidity. Personal characteristics include physical attributes, such as height, color of hair and eyes, and condition of skin; and background factors, such as ethnic-group membership and religion. Because identity is so central to psychological functioning, it is important throughout the life cycle. Identity in adolescence is shaped by resolutions of earlier crises and will evolve further in later stages. Infancy and childhood are important because they result in identifications and identity elements that contribute to the resolution of the adolescent crisis of identity. These early stages are preludes to the central normative crisis of identity in adolescence. When an adolescent makes commitments contributing to an adult identity, particularly occupational decisions, before having a chance to experiment freely with possible roles, the sense of identity that results has no proper foundation. Such an identity results from commitment before the experience of an identity crisis has run its course.

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