Stage 5: Adolescence Age: Adolescence --12 to 18 yearsConflict: Identity vs. Role Confusion Important Event: Peer relationshipsDescription:At this stage, adolescents are in search of an identity that will lead themto adulthood. Adolescents make a strong effort to answer the question "Who am I?" Erikson notes the healthy resolution of earlier conflicts can now serve as a foundation for the search for an identity. If the child overcomes earlier conflicts they are prepared to search for identity. Did they develop the basic sense of trust? Do they have a strong sense of industry to believe inthemselves?
Elements for a positive outcome:The adolescent must make a conscious search for identity. This is built on the outcome and resolution to conflict in earlier stages.
Elements for a negative outcome:If the adolescent can not make deliberate decisions and choices, especially about vocation, sexual orientation, and life in general, role confusion becomes a threat.
Examples:Adolescents attempt to establish their own identities and see themselves as separate from their parents.
James Marcia identified four identity statuses: identity diffusion, identity foreclosure, identity moratorium, and identity achievement. These identity statuses are ways to resolve the identity crisis and then establish a commitment to this identity. In this context, the term crisis is a period of development where the adolescent experiences alternative identities and then chooses. The term commitment is the decision that the adolescent makes on what he or she is going to do. Commitments include occupation, religion, philosophy, sex roles, or personal standard of sexual behavior.
Identity diffusion is the status where adolescents have not experienced any identity crisis yet. They have yet to explore meaningful alternatives and they have yet to make any commitments. During this status, adolescents do not show interest in occupational or ideological choices.
Identity foreclosure is the status where adolescents have decided on a commitment; however, they have not had an identity crisis. That is, the adolescent has not had any opportunity to experience alternatives. The adolescent accepts what others have chosen for him or her. Usually, this occurs when an authoritative parent passes on their commitment to the adolescent. These same adolescents will identify more closely to the same-sex parent. For example, if a father is a mechanic and owns his own business, then his son will become a mechanic and take over the business.
Identity moratorium is a marginal period where the adolescent is on the verge of an identity crisis; however, the adolescent has not made any commitments yet. The term moratorium refers to a period of delay where someone had not yet made a decision. It is during this time that they experience different roles. During this period, adolescents and young adults will court one another, look at different career opportunities, explore philosophies and so on.
Identity achievement is the final status where the individual has gone through a psychological moratorium and have made their decisions for life. These individuals have explored different roles and opportunities and have come to conclusions and made decisions on their own.
In short, James Marcia found that a person's identity is not "set" and is quite fluid. Before a person's identity is chosen, individuals go through a process, whether it is forced on them or not, to determine their identity. A person's identity is made up of commitments made by the individual. These commitments are decisions made throughout one's life that determines "who" that person will be.
In social learning theory Albert Bandura (1977) states behavior is learned from the environment through the process of observational learning. Children observe the people around them behaving in various ways. This is illustrated during the famous bobo doll experiment(Bandura, 1961).
Individuals that are observed are called models. In society children are surrounded by many influential models, such as parents within the family, characters on children’s TV, friends within their peer group and teachers at school. Theses models provide examples of masculine and feminine behavior to observe and imitate.
They pay attention to some of these people (models) and encode their behavior. At a later time they may imitate (i.e. copy) the behavior they have observed. They may do this regardless of whether the behavior is ‘gender appropriate’ or not but there are a number of processes that make it more likely that a child will reproduce the behavior that its society deems appropriate for its sex.
First, the child is more likely to attend to and imitate those people it perceives as similar to itself. Consequently, it is more likely to imitate behavior modeled by people the same sex as it is.
Second, the people around the child will respond to the behavior it imitates with eitherreinforcement or punishment. If a child imitates a model’s behavior and the consequences are rewarding, the child is likely to continue performing the behavior. If parent sees a little girl consoling her teddy bear and says “what a kind girl you are”, this is rewarding for the child and makes it more likely that she will repeat the behavior. Her behavior has been reinforced (i.e. strengthened).
Reinforcement can be external or internal and can be positive or negative. If a child wants approval from parents or peers, this approval is an external reinforcement, but feeling happy about being approved of is an internal reinforcement. A child will behave in a way which it believes will earn approval because it desires approval.
Positive (or negative) reinforcement will have little impact if the reinforcement offered externally does not match with an individual's needs. Reinforcement can be positive or negative, but the important factor is that it will usually lead to a change in a person's behavior.
Third, the child will also take into account of what happens to other people when deciding whether or not to copy someone’s actions. This is known as vicarious reinforcement.
This relates to attachment to specific models that possess qualities seen as rewarding. Children will have a number of models with whom they identify. These may be people in their immediate world, such as parents or elder siblings, or could be fantasy characters or people in the media. The motivation to identify with a particular model is that they have a quality which the individual would like to possess.
Identification occurs with another person (the model) and involves taking on (or adopting) observed behaviors, values, beliefs and attitudes of the person with whom you are identifying.
The term identification as used by Social Learning Theory is similar to the Freudian term related to the Oedipus complex. For example, they both involve internalizing or adopting another person’s behavior. However, during the Oedipus complex the child can only identify with the same sex parent, whereas with Social Identity Theory the person (child or adult) can potentially identify with any other person.
Identification is different to imitation as it may involve a number of behaviors being adopted whereas imitation usually involves copying a single behavior.