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Identity Development in the Late Twenties: A Never Ending Story

Journal article
Authors Johanna Carlsson
Maria Wängqvist
Ann Frisén
Published in Developmental Psychology
Volume 51
Issue 3
Pages 334-345
ISSN 0012-1649
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Psychology
Pages 334-345
Language en
Subject categories Psychology


The aim of this study was to investigate identity development in the late 20s in order to learn more about the continued identity development after identity commitments have been made. The starting point for the study was the contradiction between ideas of identity development as a lifelong process and identity status research showing that stability in identity development is common, particularly so once identitydefining commitments have been made. Identity status interviews were performed with 124 Swedish individuals (63 women) at ages 25 and 29. The 4 identity statuses were equally common at both ages, and stability in identity status between measurements was a typical pattern for individuals assigned to all identity statuses, except moratorium. Longitudinal analysis of interviews from participants assigned to identity achievement, or foreclosure at both occasions, resulted in a model of continued identity development after commitments have been made. The model showed that relevant processes in this identity development are: the ways in which individuals approach changing life conditions, to what extent they continue to engage in meaning making, and how they continue to develop their personal life direction. Identity achievement was connected to continued identity development, whereas developmental patterns connected to foreclosure were more diverse. In conclusion, the study showed that, regardless of identity status change or stability, identity development continues in the late 20s, also beyond identity achievement. Moreover, continued identity development is needed for an established sense of identity to stay adaptive and flexible.

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