To be whatever you want to be, you still need to know what that is: Identity development in emerging adulthood

Detta är en avhandling från University of Gothenburg

Sammanfattning: DEGREE OF LlCENTIATE IN PSYCHOLOGY abstract Wängqvist, M (2010). To be whatever you want to be, you still need to know what that is: Identity development in emerging adulthood. Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. In western industrialized societies an expanded period of identity exploration and uncertainty of ten follows adolescence and precedes the entry into adult roles. This period has been labeled emerging adulthood and identity exploration is described as an important aspect of this stage in life. In this thesis two empirical studies that deal with emerging adults' identity development are presented. The objective of Study I was to examine the identity deve10pment of emerging adults in Sweden in order to discover how identity issues concerning love, work and family are dealt with, and how this is re1ated to their experiences with love and work. The study group comprised 136 24- to 26-year-olds (68 women and 68 men). The results revealed that less than half of the emerging adults had reached identity defining commitments subsequent to a period of active exploration of alternatives (identity achievement) and that there were differences between women's and men's positions in the identity formation process. Women were more likely "than men to have made commitments subsequent to a period of active exploration of alternatives (identity achievement), whereas men were more likely than women to lack identity defining commitments in combination with a lack of past or present active exploration (identity diffusion). AIso, the position in the identity formation process was different for different life-areas for the men, whereas for the women identity achievement was consistently the most common. Further, the results showed a relationship between identity formation and aspects of love and work. Those who had made identity-defining commitments after a period of exploration (identity achievement) were more likely to be in a long-term romantic relationship than those who had engaged in neither the exploration of, nor commitment to identity issues (identity diffusion). Additionally, the participants in the identity diffusion group were less likely to be enrolled in university education, whereas this was common in the group with identity achievement. In Study II the aim was to explore the relationship between identity formation, psychological symptoms and identity distress. The study group was the same as for Study I. Individuals who were involved in a process of active exploration (moratorium) reported more and higher levels of psychological symptoms, as weIl as higher levels of distress over identity issues. A mediational mode1 was tested and the results implied that the association between identity formation and psychological symptoms may be mediated by distress over identity issues. Key Words: Identity Development, Emerging Adulthood, Gender Differences, Occupational contexts, Romantic Relationships, Family Relationships, Psychological Symptoms, Identity Distress ISSN llOl-718X ISRN GUjPSYKjAVH--229--SE Maria Wängqvist, Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg, Box 500, 405 30 Gothenburg, Phone: + 46317864262, E-mail: [email protected])

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