2. The Development of Self
• Self-Understanding. The Adolescent’s cognitive
representation of the self, the substance and content of
the adolescent’s self-conceptions.
– Portfolio of Experiences
• Abstract Thinkers
• Improved Problem-Solving Skills
• Family & Peer Support/Experimentation
• Ideal-Self vs. Actual-Self.
– Disparity between ideal and actual self can produce
confusion and maladaptation.
It can be a source of motivation and aspiration for
adolescents who are searching for identity.
3. Harter’s Notion of Identity
• Susan Harter identifies the process of identity development as "the search for
self" in which she defines it as a major drama that unfolds on center stage
during adolescence, with a complicated cast of characters who do not always
speak with a single voice.“
• -Susan Harter goes on to say that adolescence represents a fascinating
transitional period, marked by the emergence of newfound cognitive
capacities and changing societal expectations that, in consort, profoundly
shape and alter the very nature of the self-concept. Teenagers who
successfully navigate the journey of self-development should acquire a clear
and consolidated sense of true self that is realistic and internalized, one that
will lay the basis for further identity development. Failure to chart the waters
successfully may result in a number of potential psychological risks:
1. Distorted or unrealistic self-concept
2. Failure to integrate the self across multiple roles
3. Maladaptive or distressing displays of false selves
4. A definition of self that rely primarily on the opinions of others
• Adolescents begin to integrate all of their experience and their
understanding of themselves into a more unified sense of
• According to James Marcia (1996), changes in the self during
adolescence consists of a transition from the following:
– Early (deconstruction)
– Middle (reconstruction)
– Late (consolidation)
5. Self-Esteem and Self-Concept
• Self-Esteem. The global evaluative dimension of the self. An
individual’s evaluation of self-worth or self-image.
• Self-Concept. Domain-specific evaluations of the self.
• Unidimensional vs. Multidimensional approach
to understanding self-esteem.
6. Self-Perception Profile for Adolescents
• Scholastic Competence
• Athletic Competence
• Social Acceptance
• Physical Appearance
• Behavioral Conduct
• Close Friendship
• Romantic Appeal
• Job Competence
• Physical appearance and peer social acceptance are
more strongly correlated to global self-esteem.
7. Parental Influence on Self-Esteem
• Parental factors highly correlated with high self-esteem in boys
– Expression of affection
– Concern about the boys’ problems
– Harmony in the home
– Participation in joint family activities
– Availability to give competent, organized help when needed
– Setting clear and fair rules
– Abiding by these rules
– Allowing the boys freedom within well-prescribed limits
8. Peer Influences on Self-Esteem
• Peer factors influencing self-esteem
– Positive classmate support and close friend support were found to
be highly correlated with positive self-esteem
9. Low Self-Esteem
• Low self-esteem is highly correlated with depression, suicide,
anorexia nervosa, delinquency.
• Four ways adolescents self-esteem can be improved:
– Identify the causes of low self-esteem
– Emotional support and social approval
– Achievement. Self-esteem improves when adolescents succeed at tasks or
– Coping. Self-esteem often improves when adolescents apply coping
strategies when faced with problems as opposed to avoiding behaviors.
10. • Erikson: Identity vs. Identity Diffusion
• Psychological Moratorium. Erikson’s term for the gap between
childhood security and adult autonomy that adolescents
experience as part of their identity exploration.
• James Marcia: Four Statuses of Identity (1980;1994)
– Identity Diffusion. Adolescents have not yet experienced a crisis or made
– Identity Foreclosure. Adolescents have made a commitment but have not
experienced a crisis.
– Identity Moratorium. Adolescents are in the midst of a crisis, but whose
commitments either are absent or are only vaguely defined.
– Identity Achievement. Adolescents have undergone a crises and made a
11. Michael Berzonsky (2000)
• Conceptualized a social cognitive view of adolescent identity
• This view focus on how individuals process information when
faced with relevant conflicts regarding identity development.
– Informational. Individuals actively seek out, process, and use self-relevant
information when dealing with identity issues/forming commitments.
– Normative. Individuals conform to the expectations and prescriptions of
– Diffuse/avoidant. Individuals deliberately avoid having to deal with
personal conflicts and decisions.
12. Cultural and Ethnic Aspects of Identity
• Adolescence represents a period when many
explore and make serious commitments about
their ethnic identity.
– Asian adolescents face challenges and make
commitments involving academic achievement and
– African-American adolescents face challenges of
societal discrimination and stereotypes around physical
– Latino adolescents noted discrimination as a current
issue in ethnic identity development and the challenge
13. Helms’ Model of Ethnic Identity Development
• Janet Helms (1990, 1996) proposed a model of ethnic identity
development that consists of four stages:
– Preencounter. Ethnic minority individuals prefer dominant cultural values
to those of their own culture.
– Encounter. Ethnic minority individuals may develop a gradual reinvestment
in their own unique minority group due to particular experiences in society.
– Immersion/Emersion. Ethnic minority individuals reject dominant culture
values and completely endorse the values of their own unique group.
– Internalization/Commitment. Individuals experience a sense of fulfillment
that arises from the integration of their personal ands cultural identities.
Commitment is to multiculturalism and the elimination of discrimination.
14. Gender and Identity Development
• In relation to identity development.
– Males focus on career and ideological commitments.
– Females focus on marriage and childbearing.
– Some researchers suggest that males and females enter Erikson’s
stages in a different order.
– Erikson’s Intimacy vs. Isolation. The challenge of finding oneself
15. Jacob Orlofsky (1976): Types of
• Intimate. The individual forms and maintains one or more deep and long-
lasting love relationships.
• Preintimate. The individual shows mixed emotions about commitment, an
ambivalence reflected in the strategy of offering love without obligations.
• Stereotyped. The individual has superficial relationships that tend to be
dominated by friendship ties with same-sex rather than opposite-sex
• Pseudointimate. The individual maintains a long-lasting sexual attachment
with little or no depth or closeness.
• Isolated. The individual withdraws from social encounters and has little or no
attachment to same- or opposite-sex individuals.
16. Katherine White (1987): Model of
• Self-Focused Level. The first level of relationship maturity, at
which one’s perspective of another or of a relationship is
concerned only with how it affects oneself.
• Role-Focused Level. The second or intermediate level of
relationship maturity, at which perceiving others as individuals in
their own right begins to develop. However, at this level the
perspective is stereotypical and emphasizes social acceptability.
• Individuated-Connected Level. The highest level of relationship
maturity, at which there is evidence of an understanding of
oneself, as well as consideration of others’ motivations and
anticipation of their needs. Concern and caring involve emotional
support and individualized expression of interest.
• Loneliness tends to be quite high in late adolescence and has been
found to be linked with the following:
– Gender Differences. Studies have found loneliness to be associated with
depression in girls while linked to scholastic performance in boys.
– Attachment History. Lonely adolescents tend to come from a background
linked to few interactions with others (parents, peers).
– Social Skills.
– Going off to college denotes a time when some adolescences experience a
great sense of loneliness. One study found the occurrence of loneliness in
75% of the sample of freshman college students.
18. Robert Weiss (1973): Identified Two
Types of Loneliness
• Emotional Isolation. A type of loneliness that arises
when a person lacks an intimate attachment
– Single, divorced, and widowed adults often experience this
type of loneliness.
• Social Isolation. A type of loneliness that occurs when
a person lacks a sense of integrated involvement.
– Being deprived of participation in a group or community
involving companionship, shared interests, organized
activities, and meaningful roles causes a person to feel
alienated, bored, and uneasy.