Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages of Development – Identity vs. Identity Confusion

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In Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages of development theory, the fifth stage of ego is Identity vs. Identity Confusion. This period occurs between the ages of 12 and 18 throughout adolescence. Adolescents embrace their freedom and build a perspective of self at this time.

What is the difference between identity and identity confusion?

Identity success indicates that the individual assesses his or her own strengths and limitations and decides how to cope with them. The search for identity entails the formation of a meaningful self-concept in which the past, present, and future are merged to form a coherent whole. Personal effort must be put in to develop one’s identity throughout time. A person can face many psychological conflicts in this stage (Erikson, 1950).

Lack of willingness to consciously engage in one’s identity construction raises the risk of Cole dispersal, which may lead to alienation, loneliness, and confusion.

Identity is not simply provided to the individual by societal structure, and it does not arise as a maturational phenomenon as time passes, as secondary sex traits do.

Psychosocial reciprocity

Because identity can only be discovered by connection with influential individuals, a process Erikson refers to as psychosocial reciprocity, the teenager frequently passes through a time of intense demand for peer group recognition and nearly obsessive peer group activity. Conforming to peer norms might help teenagers discover how particular calendars fit them. Still, it can also develop a new sort of dependence, in which the individual embraces the values of others relatively readily without genuinely addressing the identity question of how well they do suit him or her (Waterman, 1999).

Love engagements and relationships

The different love engagements that a teenager experiences may help form an identity. The mutually shared personal feedback in a love relationship assists the individual in establishing and rewriting his or her own self-definition. It helps them clarify and reflect on a personal definition of the ego.

In a society like ours, where numerous ideas fight for adherents and new ideologies regularly develop, forming a personal ideology based on integrity and conviction is becoming increasingly difficult.

Check the following reference sources to learn more about Identity vs. Identity Confusion.

Waterman, A. S. (1999). Issues of identity formation revisited: the United States and The Netherlands. Developmental Review, 19(4), 462-479.

Rosenthal, D. A., Gurney, R. M., & Moore, S. M. (1981). From trust to intimacy: A new inventory for examining Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 10(6), 525-537.

Erikson, E. H.  (1950). Childhood and society. Psychology in the Schools, 32(3), 243-243.

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