Identity Development in Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood

Course Leader: Dr Nino Skhirtladze

Home Institution: Ilia State University, Tblisi, Ukraine

Course pre-requisites: None

Course Overview
Identity formation is commonly framed as the central developmental task extending from the early teens well into the twenties. Identity is defined as an individual’s answer to the question “Who am I?”.  It is usually viewed as a product of interaction between personality and its surrounding context such as family and culture.  How one addresses identity issues is related to adaptation and adjustment, but as recent research findings indicate, also to suboptimal functioning, distress, and even psychopathology.

This course provides students with theoretical knowledge on identity development in adolescence and emerging adulthood. Students acquire knowledge on different recent theoretical and empirical models of personal identity development and also will get acquainted with recent empirical research conducted in the field.

 In the second part of the course parenting and culture will be discussed as important contexts for identity development.  In the third part association of identity formation process with adjustment outcomes will be discussed based on recent theoretical models and empirical findings.

Learning Outcomes
Over the course of study participants will:
• Learn about different views of identity stemming from Erik Erikson’s theory such as process-oriented identity models. Socio-cognitive model of identity, identity capital model
• Understand identity development in the perspective of different life stages such as early adolescence, late adolescence and emerging adulthood
• Gain understanding of identity phenomenon in the context of socio historical and cultural development
• Get acquainted with theoretical and empirical models of parenting and its association with identity development task
• Gain the competence to discuss different aspects of personal identity development
• Acquire the competence to discuss empirical research with longitudinal and mixed method designs

Course Content
The following topics will be covered during the course
• Identity as a central developmental task
• Theoretical and empirical models of identity:
• Identity as an adaptation to socio historical context
• Theory of Emerging adulthood
• Parenting practices
• Identity development and parenting practices
• Cultural context and identity development
• Identity and psychopathology

Instructional Method
The following instructional methods will be used:
• Lectures,
• Group discussions

Required Course Materials
• Arnett, J.J. (2000). Emerging adulthood: A theory of development from the late teens through the twenties. American Psychologist, 55, 469-480. Reprinted in K. Jones (Ed.), Readings in Human Behavior (2003). Everett, MA: Thomson Learning.
• Baumeister, R. F., & Muraven, M. (1996). Identity as adaptation to social, cultural, and historical context. Journal of Adolescence, 19, 405-416. doi: 10.1006/jado.1996.0039
• Berman, S. L., Yu, Y.-F., Schwartz, S. J., Teo, G., & Mochizuki, K. (2011). Asian identity formation: A cross national investigation of the validity of the identity status and distress constructs in China, Taiwan, Japan, and the United States. Child and Youth Care Forum, 40, 65–75. doi: 10.1080/15298868.2010.512748
• Beyers, W., & Goossens, L. (2008). Dynamics of perceived parenting and identity formation in late adolescence. Journal of Adolescence, 31, 165-184. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence. 2007.04.003
• Klimstra, T. A., & Denissen, J. J. (2017). A theoretical framework for the associations between identity and psychopathology. Developmental Psychology, 53, 2052-2065. doi:10.1037/dev0000356
• Schwartz S.J., Luyckx K., & Vignoles V.L., (eds) (2011) Handbook of Identity Theory and Research. Springer. Chapters 1,2,3,4,5, 16,17, 23
• Verschueren, M., Claes, L., Gandhi, A., Luyckx, K. (2019) Identity and psychopathology: Bridging developmental and clinical research. Emerging Adulthood


1. Group presentation – 40%
2. Active participation in class discussions – 30%
2. Short essay – 30%