What is identity achievement?

As a BetterHelp affiliate, we may receive compensation from BetterHelp if you purchase products or services through the links provided.

In this blog we will discuss what identity achievement is.

We will also discuss why identity achievement is important, what identity status is as well as the  origins of the concept of Identity formation- Erikson Stages of development.

What is identity achievement?

Identity achievement refers to when an individual has developed a well-defined sense of what their values, beliefs, and attitudes are, as well as have defined goals that they want to achieve in life. 

The concept of identity achievement was developed based on Erikson’s Psychosocial stages- specifically for the Identity versus role confusion stage however the concept was further elaborated by James Marcia who developed the Identity theory which introduces the concept of identity achievement. 

When an individual has achieved their identity it basically means that they have achieved a true and authentic sense of self where their values, beliefs, and attitudes, as well as goals are authentic to them and not imposed on them by other influences.

This achievement is a key element of personality development as proposed by Erikson and according to this theory of development, it usually occurs during one’s teenage years and ends when they move on to adulthood. 

What are the theories related to Identity achievement?

We will discuss two theories in particular: the erikson stages of development and James marcia Identity statuses.

James Marcia Identity Status theory

James Marcia is a developmental psychologist whose area of research and study followed up on and expanded Erik Erikson’s concepts of identity crisis and identity confusion.

According to Marcia there are 4 distinct processes that adolescents can go through as they develop their identity towards identity achievements and these processes are called Statuses. 

Marcia’s four identity statuses are:

Identity Diffusion

This identity status is when Adolescents have not yet made efforts to or attempted to find their identity.

In this state, the individual has no clear idea of what their identity is due to various reasons such as lack of exploration and exposure to new environments, concepts etc. 

In some cases, these individuals may be unmotivated to explore due to various environmental factors such as hostile environment and lack of encouragement.

Because they have no clear idea of what their identity is, they are also in a state where they have made no clear goals for themselves and are often not motivated to commit to these goals.

Identity Foreclosure

In this status, the individuals might have accepted and donned on an identity that is not authentic to them.

This usually happens when values and beliefs are taught to them, enforced on them, and in some cases imposed on them by the world around them- this includes family, friends, peers, community, and other significant people in their lives. 

This usually happens when there is a lack of exposure to new ideas and concepts as well as lack of encouragement to explore alternatives.

Individuals here tend to commit without questioning these values and are observed to be highly committed to this identity and the goals related to this identity.

Identity Moratorium

Adolescents in this status appear to be in the midst of a crisis which has forced them to explore their own identity and values further. 

This can occur due to various factors such as peers, exposure, notable events in their lives etc which pushes them to explore however, they are not ready to commit to any of the values or ideas they come across yet.

Identity Achievement

This status occurs after there has been extensive exploration and the individual has finally accepted the beliefs that they have developed and have committed to these beliefs and values. 

This is usually when the individual finds that these beliefs are authentic to them this commitment leads them to be able to set goals and commit to the achievement of these goals in their lives.

One must remember that these four statuses are not sequential, meaning that it does not happen one after the other.

For example, an adolescent may begin at the identity diffusion status and jump right into identity achievement when they are encouraged to explore and are in an environment that allows for unconditional positive regard from the people around them.

Children and teens are unlikely to have reached the status of identity achievement immediately and at once, instead they might start at a status of diffusion and move on to other statuses.

In some cases, an individual might grow up to adulthood before they develop an indeed achievement and this unusually occurs after choosing a particular vocation, values, ideals, and lifestyle. 

Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages of Development

Psychoanalytic psychologist Erik Erikson maintained the theory that personality develops in a predetermined order- an order that consists of 8 stages from infancy to death. 

According to his theory, each stage is presented with a conflict which is psychological in nature and this conflict depends on the needs of the person vs the needs of the larger world.

He notes that completion of each stage determines the outcome of one’s personality- if one completes the stages successfully, it leads to the development of a healthy personality and the acquisition of basic virtues which are characteristic strengths to resolve crises in each stage.

The theory also posits that failure to successfully complete a stage can result in a reduced ability to complete further stages and lead to unhealthier personality. However, these stages can later be completed and the crisis be resolved later. 

Erikson’s stages and identity

Psychologists believe that identity achievement occurs during the teenage and adolescent years after ample exploration of the world around them and the options that are available to them.

When we consider Erikson’s stages of development, the individual at the age goes through an identity crisis and they need to resolve this crisis to develop a sense of identity achievement and this is done through exploration.

Identity vs. Role Confusion

The fifth stage of Erik Erikson’s theory identity vs. role confusion, and it occurs during adolescence, from about 12-18 years. 

During this stage, adolescents search for a sense of self through an intense exploration of personal values, beliefs, and goals.

It is during this stage that the adolescent will try to find out exactly who he or she is in terms of the sexual and the occupational.

Erikson believed that it is at this age that the person begins to experience the “identity crisis”-a sense of self. 

Identity crisis involves the physical self, personality, potential roles and occupations. It is influenced by culture and historical trends- and the peers around the individual. 

If a person is successful in this stage, they will be able to proceed with their other stages with surety and the ability to establish healthy boundaries between them and the world as well as learn acceptance of themselves and others. 

For example, an individual might have an identity crisis related to their personality traits related to socialising with others. 

A healthy and well balanced situations would be that the teen explores various situations and eagle in various social groups until they make an informed decision, as best as they can, to choose a social group or a social situation that fit them best and that makes them feel like they belong rather than being pressure to join a certain group.

This also applies to various other aspects of their life such as religion, political beliefs or lifestyles, during this stage of identity crisis. It is at this stage that they can move from one to another as they try things out without committing to it. 

According to Erikson, If a person is successful in this stage, they will be able to proceed with their other stages with surety and the ability to establish healthy boundaries between them and the world as well as learn acceptance of themselves and others. 

Why is identity achievement so important?

Experiencing identity achievement is an important aspect of one’s psychological development and personal growth and it can impact various areas of one’s life. 

According to Erikson, If a person is successful in this stage, they will be able to proceed with their other stages with surety and the ability to establish healthy boundaries between them and the world as well as learn acceptance of themselves and others. 

As for James Marcia, it gives an individual a sense that they are unique and at the same time allows them to take a stance on various issues that surround them.

By achieving this status, an individual is also aware of their strengths and their limitations and they can make strides in working to improve themselves as well as apply their assets in achieving goals and making progress- be it in their careers, their relationships, as well as their sense of fulfilment.

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed what identity achievement is.

We have also explored what each component is, what is the virtue that must be attained as well as what the other stages of development are according to Erikson’s theory. 

FAQ related to 

What are some examples of identity achievement?

An individual might have an identity crisis related to their personality traits related to socialising with others. 

A healthy and well balanced situations would be that the teen explores various situations and eagle in various social groups until they make an informed decision, as best as they can, to choose a social group or a social situation that fit them best and that makes them feel like they belong rather than being pressure to join a certain group.

What are the 4 areas of identity achievement?

The four identity statuses according to James Marcia are achieved, moratorium, foreclosed, and diffused.

What is identity achievement according to James Marcia?

According to James Marcia, This status of identity achievement occurs after there has been extensive exploration and the individual has finally accepted the beliefs that they have developed and have committed to these beliefs and values. 

This is usually when the individual finds that these beliefs are authentic to them this commitment leads them to be able to set goals and commit to the achievement of these goals in their lives.

What factors according to Erikson and Marcia contribute to self identity?

For both Erikson and Marcia, Exploration is what contributes to self identity. This applies to various other aspects of their life such as religion, political beliefs or lifestyles, during this stage of identity crisis. It is at this stage that they can move from one to another as they try things out without committing to it. 

References

McLeod, S. A. (2018, May 03). Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development. Simply Psychology. www.simplypsychology.org/Erik-Erikson.html

Identity Achievement: Definition & Example. Study.com. Retrieved on 22nd Feb 2022. https://study.com/academy/lesson/identity-achievement-definition-example-quiz.html

Fraser-Thill.R. Your Teen’s Identity Achievement. Verywellmind. Retrieved on 22nd Feb 2022.https://www.verywellfamily.com/identity-achievement-3288006#:~:text=The%20definition%20of%20identity%20achievement,years%2C%20and%20ends%20in%20adulthood.

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.