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A Longitudinal Examination of Identity Status Interview Narratives: How Stable is Stable?

Conference contribution
Authors Johanna Carlsson
Maria Wängqvist
Ann Frisén
Published in Paper presented at the 14th biennial conference of European association for research on adolescence. September 3-6, 2014, Çeşme, Izmir, Turkey.
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Subject categories Psychology


A Longitudinal examination of identity status interview narratives: How stable is stable? The purpose of this research was to investigate how individuals maintain and develop their identities across time, and to identify processes that might prevent identity development. The research aimed to investigate aspects of identity development that are not captured by identity status codings, by focusing on individuals who did not change identity status between measuring points. The identity status interview (Marcia, Waterman, Mattesson, Archer, & Orlofsky, 1993) was performed with 124 Swedes, at age 25 (Frisén & Wängqvist, 2011) and at age 29. Individuals who were stable in committed identity statuses (identity achievement or foreclosure; n=55), and individuals who were stable in uncommitted identity statuses (moratorium or identity diffusion; n= 8), were studied in two separate analyses. Differences and similarities between interview narratives from both interview occasions were summarized, separately for each individual. Inductive thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) was applied to these summaries. The analysis of identity narratives from individuals in committed identity statuses resulted in a model that suggests that identity development among these individuals may be understood in terms of the deepening or weakening of three dimensions: approach to changing life conditions, meaning making, and development of personal life direction. Interview narratives from individuals assigned to the same uncommitted identity status at both ages were analyzed in a similar way. A combination of deductive and inductive approaches was used, as this allowed both testing of the model derived from the analysis of individuals in committed identity statuses, and for the model to be expanded beyond this original form. The results from this analysis showed that only the dimension meaning making could be applied to individuals assigned to the same uncommitted identity status. The other two dimensions from the first analysis were revised to fit this new group. In addition to the model, the Interview narratives for individuals with uncommitted identity status included elements of procrastination of exploration and commitment-making, problems integrating different identity domains, elements of dismissing available alternatives without choosing anything, and difficulties with more complex reasoning. The study indicates that continued identity development is one of the key processes through which an established sense of identity can be maintained. Moreover, the study identified processes that might prevent identity development among individuals repeatedly assigned to uncommitted identity statuses. In conclusion, the model that derived from this study captures some aspects of identity development among individuals who are repeatedly assigned to the same identity status.

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