Adolescence: The Self and Identity. The Development of Self. Self-Understanding . The Adolescent’s cognitive representation of the self, the substance and content of the adolescent’s self-conceptions. Portfolio of Experiences Abstract Thinkers Introspection Improved Problem-Solving Skills
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Self-Understanding. The Adolescent’s cognitive representation of the self, the substance and content of the adolescent’s self-conceptions.
Portfolio of Experiences
Improved Problem-Solving Skills
Family & Peer Support/Experimentation
Ideal-Self vs. Actual-Self.
Disparity between ideal and actual self can produce confusion and maladaptation.
It can be a source of motivation and aspiration for adolescents who are searching for identity.
Harter’s Notion of Identity
Susan Harter identifies the process of identity development as "the search for self" in which she defines it as a major drama that unfolds on center stage during adolescence, with a complicated cast of characters who do not always speak with a single voice.“
-Susan Harter goes on to say that adolescence represents a fascinating transitional period, marked by the emergence of newfound cognitive capacities and changing societal expectations that, in consort, profoundly shape and alter the very nature of the self-concept. Teenagers who successfully navigate the journey of self-development should acquire a clear and consolidated sense of true self that is realistic and internalized, one that will lay the basis for further identity development. Failure to chart the waters successfully may result in a number of potential psychological risks:
1. Distorted or unrealistic self-concept
2. Failure to integrate the self across multiple roles
3. Maladaptive or distressing displays of false selves
4. A definition of self that rely primarily on the opinions of others
Adolescents begin to integrate all of their experience and their understanding of themselves into a more unified sense of identity.
According to James Marcia (1996), changes in the self during adolescence consists of a transition from the following:
Self-Esteem and Self-Concept
Self-Esteem. The global evaluative dimension of the self. An individual’s evaluation of self-worth or self-image.
Self-Concept. Domain-specific evaluations of the self.
Unidimensional vs. Multidimensional approach to understanding self-esteem.
Self-Perception Profile for Adolescents (Harter, 1989)
Physical appearance and peer social acceptance are more strongly correlated to global self-esteem.
Parental Influence on Self-Esteem Development
Parental factors highly correlated with high self-esteem in boys (Coopersmith, 1967)
Expression of affection
Concern about the boys’ problems
Harmony in the home
Participation in joint family activities
Availability to give competent, organized help when needed
Setting clear and fair rules
Abiding by these rules
Allowing the boys freedom within well-prescribed limits
Peer Influences on Self-Esteem
Peer factors influencing self-esteem
Positive classmate support and close friend support were found to be highly correlated with positive self-esteem
Low self-esteem is highly correlated with depression, suicide, anorexia nervosa, delinquency.
Four ways adolescents self-esteem can be improved:
Identify the causes of low self-esteem
Emotional support and social approval
Achievement. Self-esteem improves when adolescents succeed at tasks or identified competencies.
Coping. Self-esteem often improves when adolescents apply coping strategies when faced with problems as opposed to avoiding behaviors.
Erikson: Identity vs. Identity Diffusion
Psychological Moratorium. Erikson’s term for the gap between childhood security and adult autonomy that adolescents experience as part of their identity exploration.
James Marcia: Four Statuses of Identity (1980;1994)
Identity Diffusion. Adolescents have not yet experienced a crisis or made any commitments.
Identity Foreclosure. Adolescents have made a commitment but have not experienced a crisis.
Identity Moratorium. Adolescents are in the midst of a crisis, but whose commitments either are absent or are only vaguely defined.
Identity Achievement. Adolescents have undergone a crises and made a commitment.
Michael Berzonsky (2000)
Conceptualized a social cognitive view of adolescent identity development.
This view focus on how individuals process information when faced with relevant conflicts regarding identity development.
Informational. Individuals actively seek out, process, and use self-relevant information when dealing with identity issues/forming commitments.
Normative. Individuals conform to the expectations and prescriptions of significant others.
Diffuse/avoidant. Individuals deliberately avoid having to deal with personal conflicts and decisions.
Cultural and Ethnic Aspects of Identity
Adolescence represents a period when many explore and make serious commitments about their ethnic identity.
Asian adolescents face challenges and make commitments involving academic achievement and school enrollment.
African-American adolescents face challenges of societal discrimination and stereotypes around physical attraction.
Latino adolescents noted discrimination as a current issue in ethnic identity development and the challenge of acculturation.
Helms’ Model of Ethnic Identity Development
Janet Helms (1990, 1996) proposed a model of ethnic identity development that consists of four stages:
Preencounter. Ethnic minority individuals prefer dominant cultural values to those of their own culture.
Encounter. Ethnic minority individuals may develop a gradual reinvestment in their own unique minority group due to particular experiences in society.
Immersion/Emersion. Ethnic minority individuals reject dominant culture values and completely endorse the values of their own unique group.
Internalization/Commitment. Individuals experience a sense of fulfillment that arises from the integration of their personal ands cultural identities. Commitment is to multiculturalism and the elimination of discrimination.
Gender and Identity Development
In relation to identity development.
Males focus on career and ideological commitments.
Females focus on marriage and childbearing.
Some researchers suggest that males and females enter Erikson’s stages in a different order.
Erikson’s Intimacy vs. Isolation. The challenge of finding oneself through another.
Jacob Orlofsky (1976): Types of Intimate Interaction
Intimate. The individual forms and maintains one or more deep and long-lasting love relationships.
Preintimate. The individual shows mixed emotions about commitment, an ambivalence reflected in the strategy of offering love without obligations.
Stereotyped. The individual has superficial relationships that tend to be dominated by friendship ties with same-sex rather than opposite-sex individuals.
Pseudointimate. The individual maintains a long-lasting sexual attachment with little or no depth or closeness.
Isolated. The individual withdraws from social encounters and has little or no attachment to same- or opposite-sex individuals.
Katherine White (1987): Model of Relationship Maturity
Self-Focused Level. The first level of relationship maturity, at which one’s perspective of another or of a relationship is concerned only with how it affects oneself.
Role-Focused Level. The second or intermediate level of relationship maturity, at which perceiving others as individuals in their own right begins to develop. However, at this level the perspective is stereotypical and emphasizes social acceptability.
Individuated-Connected Level. The highest level of relationship maturity, at which there is evidence of an understanding of oneself, as well as consideration of others’ motivations and anticipation of their needs. Concern and caring involve emotional support and individualized expression of interest.
Loneliness tends to be quite high in late adolescence and has been found to be linked with the following:
Gender Differences. Studies have found loneliness to be associated with depression in girls while linked to scholastic performance in boys.
Attachment History. Lonely adolescents tend to come from a background linked to few interactions with others (parents, peers).
Going off to college denotes a time when some adolescences experience a great sense of loneliness. One study found the occurrence of loneliness in 75% of the sample of freshman college students.
Robert Weiss (1973): Identified Two Types of Loneliness
Emotional Isolation. A type of loneliness that arises when a person lacks an intimate attachment relationship.
Single, divorced, and widowed adults often experience this type of loneliness.
Social Isolation. A type of loneliness that occurs when a person lacks a sense of integrated involvement.
Being deprived of participation in a group or community involving companionship, shared interests, organized activities, and meaningful roles causes a person to feel alienated, bored, and uneasy.