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How identity status interviews may be used for in-depth studies of identity development: A two wave longitudinal study of identity in emerging adulthood.

Conference contribution
Authors Maria Wängqvist
Ann Frisén
Johanna Carlsson
Philip Hwang
Published in Symposium presentation at the 14th biennial conference of the European Association for Research on Adolescence, Cesme, Turkey, September 3-6, 2014
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Subject categories Psychology


The purpose of this presentation is to illustrate how the identity status interview may be used to study process, content, and contexts of identity development. To do so we draw on published (e.g., Frisén, Carlsson, & Wängqvist, 2014; Frisén & Wängqvist, 2011; Wängqvist & Frisén, 2011) and unpublished results from a longitudinal project (GoLD) with identity status interviews (Marcia, Waterman, Mattesson, Archer, & Orlofsky, 1993) with emerging adults. The interviews focused on occupation, romantic relationships, parenthood, and work/family priorities, with 136 Swedish 25-year-olds and four years later with 124 of these participants. The semi-structured interview format and coding procedure used enable both quantitative and qualitative analyse of identity development in emerging adulthood. This mixed methods approach (e.g., Lieber & Weisner, 2010) offers opportunity to study identity development in depth. For example, quantitative analyses showed that it was much less common for the 25-year-old participants to explore issues concerning romantic relationships and parenthood than it was to explore occupational choices and work/family priorities (Frisén & Wängqvist, 2011). Further qualitative analyses revealed that compared to occupational choices issues concerning romantic relationships were viewed more as facts than as issues that need to be considered from several perspectives (Wängqvist, Frisén, Ignell, & Fernros, 2011). Similar results were found in thematic analyses of how the participants talked about parenthood (Frisén et al., 2014). In the second wave the question: If, besides from the issues relating to work and family, there was something else in their lives that were salient to their views of themselves, revealed a variety of life areas that emerging adults view as important to their sense of identity besides issues of love and work. These life areas involved, for example, watching and practicing different sports, friendships, and music. In line with other Swedish studies (Bergh & Erling, 2005) religion and politics were uncommon. Another example of the explanatory mixed methods approach is the longitudinal analyses of the interviews. These analyses have revealed that there is continued identity development among individuals whose identities appear stable in identity status. This development involved people’s approach to changing life conditions, their tendency to continue to make meaning of their experiences, and their development of a personal life direction. The conclusions from our work within GoLD are that identity status interviews combined with a mixed methods approach would be useful for in depth studies of identity development in adolescence as well as in emerging adulthood.

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