Section 3, Article 1 - As individuals move into adolescence, Erikson () theorized that they enter his fifth stage of psychosocial development,. It is during this stage that the question “Who am I?” takes center stage. In adolescence, identity is often shaped by their impression of what others think of them as well as their own view of themselves (). Their improved cognitive functioning now allows them to view themselves from a psychological perspective, whereas before they defined themselves using only concrete and specific traits. When teenagers are younger, they may struggle to accept that their desired self-concept (social and friendly) differs from their behavior (wanting alone time). However, older teenagers are able to reconcile that conflict by understanding that their behaviors may be altered by situations and circumstances (). In Erikson’s fifth psychosocial stage, teenagers often test out various roles, activities, and ideologies in an attempt to reach.
Middle Childhood Self-concept | 02:20
Children previously described themselves in concrete terms while in adolescents they begin to allow their ideology to shape them. Examples: "I am a Christian." "I am a pacifist."
James Marcia () built upon Erikson’s theory, finding four different ways in which teenagers work through the identity crisis: 1) identity confusion, 2) foreclosure, 3) moratorium, and 4) identity achievement. The first stage, , impedes a teenager from forming close relationships and engaging in meaningful activities, which often leads to social withdrawal. Second, occurs when teenagers simply adopt others’ values or norms in an attempt to avoid confusion and to find comfort in some form of commitment (). The third stage of commonly occurs around age 19, and it allows adolescents to take a break from figuring out their identity, such as by attending college or joining the military (; ). Once a teenager progresses through a time of identity crisis, the final and ideal stage is identity achievement. As teenagers work through these stages and move towards identity achievement, it is important for parents to guide them and emphasize God’s love and plans. Given the influence of parents and the environment on teenagers’ identity formation, it is not surprising that Erikson () found four venues by which formation occurs at the chronosystem level: religious, political, sexual, and vocational. Concerning religion, it is rare for teens to experience a crisis of faith (). Rather, they tend to mimic their parents’ faith (). At the same time, adolescents may begin to develop a personal set of core beliefs and values and choose to express their faith in personal ways. Similarly, political beliefs often resemble their parents’ and are likely to remain constant into adulthood. Over the years, Erikson’s term sexual identity has greatly changed. This term has been replaced with the term due to the change in traditional roles held by men and women (). Vocation is another area in which gender roles have changed, as women are now often employed. Because there are so many vocational options, teenagers often need years to explore them and receive appropriate training.