identity achievement erik erikson and james marcia n.
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IDENTITY ACHIEVEMENT ERIK ERIKSON AND JAMES MARCIA. DANIEL AREVALO. BIOGRAPHY . ERIK H. ERIKSON. JAMES E. MARCIA. Current Professor of Psychology at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver Ph.D. at Ohio State University. Born June 15, 1902 Frankfurt , Germany

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Current Professor of Psychology at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver

Ph.D. at Ohio State University

  • Born June 15, 1902
  • Frankfurt , Germany
  • Mother raised him alone because of affair
  • 1904: his mother marries again.
  • Both parents Jewish
  • Becomes wandering artist
  • 1927: teacher at Freudian school.
  • Exiled to United States 1933
  • Died 1994

Erik Erikson

what s in a name erik erikson
What’s in a Name?ERIK ERIKSON
  • Erikson's interest in psychological identity may be traced to his early life. He was born as a result of his mother's extramarital affair and the circumstances of his birth were concealed from him in his childhood. His mother, Karla Abrahamsen came from a Jewish family in Copenhagen with German roots. Since Karla Abrahamsen was officially married to a Jewish stockbroker Waldemar Isidor Salomonsen at the time, her son, born in Germany, was registered as Erik Salomonsen.
  • There is no more information about his biological father, except that he was a Dane and his given name probably was Erik. Following her son's birth, Karla studied for a nurse, moved to Karlsruhe and in 1904 married a Jewish pediatrician Theodor Homburger. In 1909 Erik Salomonsen became Erik Homburger and in 1911 he was officially adopted by his stepfather. The development of Identity seems to have been one of his greatest concerns in Erikson's own life as well as in his theory. During his childhood and early adulthood he was known as Erik Homburger, and his parents kept the details of his birth a secret. He was a tall, blond, blue-eyed boy who was raised Jewish.
  • However, when he was forced out of Germany by increasingly hostile Nazi influences and moved to the United States, he changed his name to Erik, son of Erik: Erikson.
biography cont
Biography Cont.
  • Erik Erikson, while still in Germany, studied psychoanalysis of children under Anna Freud and was even analyzed by her.
  • Developed Stage Theory in 1950 with Childhood and Society.
epigenetic principle
Epigenetic Principle
  • Development, he says, functions by the epigenetic principle. It says that humans develop through a predetermined unfolding of personalities in eight stages. Our progress through each stage is in part determined by our success, or lack of success, in all the previous stages.
  • Uses an analogy of fetal growth: “epigenetic development, the step-by-step growth of the fetal organs” (Erikson, Childhood and Society, pg. 65)
erikson s stage theory
Erikson’s StageTheory

Freud’s Stage Theory

  • Trust v Mistrust
  • Autonomy v Shame & Doubt
  • Initiative v Guilt
  • Industry v Inferiority

Erikson then goes further than Freud

  • Intimacy v Isolation (Young Adults)
  • Generativity v Stagnation (Adults)
  • Integrity v Despair (Elderly)
  • With every stage there is great vulnerability but also great potential for the individual to grow
  • Oral: 0-1
  • Anal: 1-3
  • Phallic: 3-6
  • Latent: 6-10
  • Genital: 10-end of adolescence









Like Piaget, Erikson postulated that these stages were cross-cultural and that in accordance to the epigenetic principle, one must go through the stages as life progresses.

identity achievement
Identity Achievement
  • According to Erikson, children, approximately between the ages of 10-21, undergo an identity crisis.
  • During this crisis, a youth begins to worry about their own place in society and begin to search for their meaning.
  • This is largely an unconscious process
  • You must create a “central perspective and direction, some working unity, out of the remnants of his childhood and the hopes of his anticipated adulthood” (Erikson, Identity and the Life Cycle, 1958, pg. 98)
  • It is important to note: “Ego Identity, then, develops out of a gradual integration of all identifications, but here if anywhere the whole has a different quality than the sum of its parts” (Erikson, Identity and the Life Cycle, pg. 95)
ego identity cont
Ego Identity cont.
  • Ego identity then, in its subjective aspect, is the awareness of the fact that there is a selfsameness and continuity to the ego’s synthesizing methods, the style of one’s individuality, and that this style coincides with the sameness and continuity of one’s meaning for significant others in the immediate community” (Erikson, 1968, pg 50)
  • “The term identity…connotes both a persistent sameness within oneself (self-sameness) and a persistent sharing of some kind of essential character with others” (Erikson, 1956, pg. 57)
  • Throughout his writings Erikson proposed that the self-sameness and continuity is expressed through a “conscious sense of individual identity,” an unconscious striving for a “continuity of personal character,” a continuing process of “ego synthesis,” and an “inner solidarity” with a group’s “ideals and social identity.” (1957)
identity moratorium
Identity Moratorium
  • Erikson briefly treats the subject of moratorium in his works.
  • He describes the adolescent mind this way, saying that it is: “a psychosocial stage between childhood and adulthood and between the morality learned by the child and the ethics developed by the adult” (Erikson, Childhood and Society, pg 263)
identity diffusion
Identity Diffusion
  • Erikson continues his theory by describing the failure to identify.
  • Identity diffusion occurs when a youth is unable to “settle on an occupational identity which disturbs [the individual]. To keep themselves together, they temporarily over-identify, to the point of apparent loss of identity, with the heroes of cliques and crowds” (Erikson, Childhood and Society, pg. 262)

These Individuals dress the same way: and example of over-conforming, thus losing their sense of identity

james e marcia
James E. Marcia
  • Published Article in 1966
  • Development and validation of ego-identity status in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
  • This redefined and sharpened Erikson’s Theory of Identity Achievement
  • Defined the four sub-categories of Identity
    • Achievement
    • Foreclosure
    • Moratorium
    • Diffusion
marcia s identity achievement statuses
Marcia’s Identity Achievement Statuses

Theorized that during Erikson’s Achievement Stage, these would be the different ways that a person could be. (Note: not one person is ever fully one or the other. People have all kinds of ideals that they hold and some might be under one status while other times they may be another.)

marcia s identity statuses
Marcia’s Identity Statuses


When a Person is in diffusion, their sense of identity is largely derived from those people around them. There is no commitment to this identity but it is a temporary state that can be released and another sense can be just as easily absorbed


This status describes individuals who are actively seeking out their own identity but have no real commitment to who they are.

They are aware however of the alternatives and are exploring them as possible choices.


Under this status are individuals who have explored the alternatives to their life and have come to a conclusion of who they are and what they should be. They commit to this idea of the self .


Individuals who are foreclosed, says Marcia, have simply accepted the norms and customs of their parents (or government) and committed to remaining true to them. There has been no exploration of alternatives.

case study

Identity Crisis

Case Study

Political Identity

critical questions
Critical Questions
  • Do public school children tend to have a higher incidence rate of Identity Achievement then Catholic School Children?
  • Will attendance at a private school influence the children at Holy Family and affect their status of Identity?
  • Will being at a public school influence the incidence of identity?

Minor Questions

How will divorce factor into the incidence of Identity achievement?

Will the children with higher socio-economic backgrounds be more or less achieved?


Holy Family of Nazareth School

Harrison Lane Elementary

6th Graders

2 boys

2 girls

1 Caucasian/White

2 Hispanic

1 Afro-American

  • 6th graders
  • 2 boys
  • 2 girls
  • 4 Caucasian/White
  • Opting for less subjects but more rich data, the method of collecting information was though interviews
  • No real names are used but ages and some details are retained.
  • The interviews are recorded through video camera
  • Questions are pre-set and do not change from interview to interview to maintain some level of measurement
interview questions
Interview Questions
  • Good Afternoon
  • Well let’s get started.
  • What is your name?
  • How Old are you?
  • And what Grade are you in?
  • How do you feel about living in Texas?
  • Do you live with both of your Parents?
  • Do you live with both of your parents? (explain and expand upon)
  • Did your Father go to College?
  • What does he do for a living, I mean, where does he work?
  • And your mother, did she also go to College?
  • Is she working outside your home as well?
  • Do you have any brothers or sisters? How many? Which ones are older and which are younger?
  • Do you have any Political Preference? Like do you think you belong to a political party or do you consider yourself liberal or conservative or moderate?
  • How familiar are you with these terms?
  • What about your parents? Do they have any political preference?
  • Do they belong to any particular political party?
  • How important are political questions to your parents?
  • (which ones?)
  • Are there any political or social issues that you feel strongly about? (Yes or No)
  • Can you name the top 2 please? What would you like to see done about them?
  • Have you ever done anything political, like go to a rally or joined any groups or contacted politicians?
  • (If so) How did you get involved?
  • (If none) Do you think that politics is important to you right now or do you see politics as not as important in your life?
  • How do you get your information to make a decision?
  • How important is it for you to work out these ideas?
  • Was there ever a time that you found your political beliefs changing, When you found yourself having one idea, but then a few months later adopting a different one on the same issue?
  • Describe that please.
  • Why did that happen?
  • Was there anyone or anything that may have influenced that change?
  • How do you feel when you are engaged in political activities?
  • What do you parents think of your own political ideas?
  • Are there any important differences?
  • Do you think that your political ideas will stay the same or do you think they will definitely change?
  • How might they change?
  • What might cause that change?
  • Is this likely?
  • On a seven point scale tell me how important your political ideas are to you and your life?
  • 1=nothing
  • 7=extremely important
  • Do you have any Political Preference? Like do you think you belong to a political party or do you consider yourself liberal or conservative or moderate?
  • What about your parents? Do they have any political preference?
  • How important are political questions to your parents?
  • Are there any political or social issues that you feel strongly about
  • Which issues are important to your parents?
  • Do you think that politics is important to you right now or do you see politics as not as important in your life?
  • How do you get your information to make a decision?
  • Have you ever been politically involved and how did you become involved?
  • Was there ever a time that you found your political beliefs changing and if so, how?
  • Who or what influenced you to do that?
  • How do you feel when you are engaged in political activities?
  • What do you parents think of your own political ideas?
  • Are there any important differences?
  • Will your beliefs change? And How so? What might cause the change?
  • How important is politics in you life?

Using the questions shown on the previous slide, certain questions were pre-selected to be “weighted” questions.

Those questions had responses that would indicate the level of political achievement of the student.

The responses were then judged as indicating a particular status and then they were averaged to a percentage. Students having a higher degree of Foreclosure would by percentage have answered more questions with a foreclosed answer.

data collection tool
Data Collection Tool

Sample Question: How do you get your information to make a decision?

Achievement: I look it up myself in a news paper/online etc. and make up my own mind about it.

Foreclosure: My parents tell me about it.

Moratorium: I look for it online but I do not really make any final decisions

Diffusion: I do not/ My friends tell me.

  • While looking at a group of children who are at the early part of the Identity stage: specifically 6th graders from Holy Family and Harrison Lane Elementary School: the children from the public school will demonstrate a significantly higher rate of Identity achievement over those children at Holy Family.
  • Those of Higher socio-economic status will be less diffused than those of lower socio-economic families.
  • Those whose parents are divorced will show less achievement, less moratorium, less foreclosure and much more diffusion.
divorce results
Divorce: Results

A half of the number of students that I interviewed were only living with one parent . I wondered if this might affect the results at all so it was included as a minor question.

  • My Hypothesis was incorrect
  • Most of the Public school children were diffused at higher levels while the children in the private school were both diffused and foreclosed at about the same level.
  • Private school children were much more foreclosed than the public school children.
  • My minor hypothesis was correct: those with divorced parents were MUCH more diffused indicating a pretty strong positive correlation to divorce and diffusion.
  • My other minor hypothesis was correct as it did show that those of lower socio-economic status did tend to be more diffuse as well.
limitations and problems
Limitations and Problems
  • Cannot generalize: sample was too small however enlightening it was.
  • Limited interview: only covered political
  • Not enough racial diversity from HFNS
  • Same with the socio-economic factor, too little diversity
  • Public school interviews were conducted in a loud area
final thoughts
Final Thoughts

Erik Erikson

Nature Nurture

-Children at such a young age can hardly be expected to be achieved in any manner.

-It is in most cases that any kind of achievement occurs so early on.

-Lack of political knowledge indicated diffusion.

-According to numerous studies, those who are foreclosed tend to have conventional morality while those who are achieved will usually show more post-conventional moral thought.

-Interesting Side note: Erikson points out that those people living in totalitarian governments or households are much more likely to be foreclosed or diffused because of the environment.

special thanks
Special Thanks
  • Dr. Amy Fisher-Smith for helping me with my rubric
  • Mrs. Khirallah- For putting up with my delays.