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Identity Development Process Essay

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Updated: Sep 27th, 2019


The process of identity development among individuals is rooted at infant stage, and develops significantly until it clearly emerges out at adolescence stage. It has been revealed that, the major goal of many adolescents is to achieve a specific identity in order to avoid any form of confusion in their future lives.

According to Kroger (2007), physical, cognitive and social transformations among adolescents form a strong basis for the development of their future identity in their later adulthood.

Particularly, the emergence abstract reasoning among teenagers facilitates their ultimate development of specific identities in order to make them to be focused in realizing self actualization.

More so, the physical and social environment in which an individual grows up in has been revealed quite significant in identity development among adolescents. In this study, an in-depth learning on the key contexts for identity development among adolescents will be facilitated.

To facilitate this study interviews with a boy and a girl aged 14 and 15 years respectively have been conducted. As observed in these adolescents, their anticipated future careers are largely embedded on their parental core values and practices.

Since the interviewees are in their high school educational level, their focus in developing their future careers seems clearly developed, as depicted by their subsequent specialized study patterns.

It was observed that, these interviewees had set their educational achievement goals based on the core values upheld by their close relationships including families and their peers (Clarke, 2005).

On choosing these interviewees, I considered adolescence stage as the focal point of identity development, since individuals at this stage are at verge of developing abstract reasoning skills.

More so, the adolescence stage marks the transition stage between adulthood and childhood, where individuals tend to develop key values and behaviors to identify themselves with.

By choosing a 14 year old boy and a 15 year old girl, their response will be fundamental in developing the relationship between identity development and the underlying environmental influences among individuals.

Since these interviewees at the stage of personal development where they are capable of reasoning deductively and inductively, their career development seems much embedded on their key values in their lives.

Considering that this study focuses on the relationship between identity development and environmental influences, an interview with the two adolescents seems more accurate in developing an accurate framework of ideas on how both social and physical environment impacts on individuals’ identity (Ferrer-Wreder et al, 2002).

Literature Review

According to Taveira & Moreno (2003), the process of identity development is a complex framework of experiences originating from adulthood to become well defined at adolescence stage.

As it has been revealed, adolescents’ main focus is to align their goals to the societal norms and values, in order to enhance coherence in their personal development. Being a multi-dimensional aspect of personality, identity involves sexuality, occupation, religion and ethical values, which an individual pursues to achieve in his/her life.

On this basis, identity is an innate and personalized ambitions among individuals to realize self-actualization. Since the social and physical environments are very influential in the development of behaviors, self actualization corresponds to social values and norms among individuals.

It is important to note that, identity development is largely determined by creativity among individuals. Creativity is a personal skill that cannot be ignored at any cost, as it determines core identity values among the people (Clarke, 2005). For a society to develop, it requires creativity by its members.

Since the society is composed of persons, each individual’s personal identities have been largely dependent on the core values and norms upheld in the society. It is hence significant for any society and individuals to think of share and play with new ideas.

This enhances the well being of the mind of the individuals and often results in material benefit which improves their lives. On this basis, the development of identity among adolescents is one of the major achievements that adolescents acquire as they pursue success in their endeavors.

As noted by Ferrer-Wreder et al (2002), the ability of adolescents to think and reason abstractively facilitates the development of their core competencies in their areas of interest, which is largely influenced by the environment they grow in.

With regard to Taveira & Moreno (2003), hypothetical development of identity among individuals is based on two main steps. The first step involves adolescents breaking away from their childhood beliefs in search of new alternatives in specific areas considered as important in their areas.

The second step involves personal commitment through identifying various opportunities capable of enhancing the realization of the desired goals.

As noted by Kroger (2007), adolescents’ ambitions to achieve their desired goals and objectives may be foreclosed, a situation which may arise when such individuals get committed to achieve self actualization without proper exploration of the possible alternatives.

As a result, frustrations are subsequently experienced among such individuals, since their ambitions will be out of scope of their potential. It is important to note that, parental ideas and values are accepted automatically among individuals as they organize their strategies to identify themselves with various aspects of societal values.

According to Ferrer-Wreder et al (2002), adolescents start developing an in-depth analysis of their parents’ influences through beliefs and ideas, a process referred as moratorium. At adolescence stage, individuals become active explorers of the available alternatives in their lives.

This is reflected by their tendency to start engaging in new beliefs and practices as they tryout various social opportunities. On the process of alternatives exploration, by-identity achievement is usually achieved, since at this stage individuals will be able to think and reason abstractively.

Despite that such adolescents explore various aspects of their identities; some of them may fail to achieve any significant identity development as a result of their multi-dimensional perspectives.

As a result, diffusion of values among such individuals becomes a key aspect of identity development; as such individuals tend to encompass the core values upheld in their social environment.

As held by Clarke (2005), active parental, educational and community involvement is quite important as a nurturing factor for the development of identity among adolescents. Since identity achievement is largely associated with self esteem, individuals are compelled to reason critically on their verge to choose alternatives for their identity.

It is also important to note that, the physical changes among individuals at puberty level facilitate their development in reasoning capacity in terms of moral values.

With respect to Taveira & Moreno (2003), the development of abstract thought among adolescents enhances their capacity to explore various religious matters as they seek to establish the best spiritual beliefs to associate themselves with.

According to Head (1997), about 60% of adolescents, their identification with a particular religion is a fundamental achievement in their lives. Considering the impact of social relationships among individuals, their tendency to associate themselves with religion belonging to their treasured social identities has been prevalent.

Though many adolescents have been revealed to associate themselves with childhood beliefs, the process of exploration in achieving identities in religious beliefs remains a significant for them.

As revealed by Boan & Piquette-Tomei (2009), the failure of parents to create conducive environment for children in terms of creativity inhibit the child’s potential. When the parents are not creative themselves, it usually becomes hard for the children to develop creativity, since they tend to consider their parents as the ultimate mentors for their life.

Considering that the family is the first social group that individuals interact with, much of the families’ core values and behaviors are acquired by these children. This forms a basis for individuals’ development of identity with their families or relatives.

As noted by Taveira & Moreno (2003), a family environment that inhibits the creativity of children has a diverse impact on the development of skills even beyond creativity.

For instance, parents who are extremely strict to their children may make them develop hostile behaviors, since such children will tend to identify themselves with the behavior of their parents.

Though many children have their goals and objectives that they wish to fulfill in their future lives, it is not until adolescence life that their identity becomes clearly developed. As reported by Ferrer-Wreder et al (2002), many adolescents usually pursue career goals and objectives which align with their career identities.

For instance, a young girl who is fond of science related subjects may have strong desires to identify herself with careers that are related to science like astronomy, teaching career and medical practitioners among others. According to Kroger (2007), there are three main stages of career development among teenagers.

The first phase is ‘crystallization’, which is associated with tentative choosing of specific aspects related to their treasured identities. At this stage, the young adolescents may engage in pursuing a variety of career options which facilitates the identification of their core competencies in the chosen areas.

In this stage, Boan & Piquette-Tomei (2009) considers the ability of teens to choose specific subjects which they are more interested in and wish to base their future careers on them.

The second stage of career development is ‘specification’, which is associated with specific choosing or subject areas with respect to their desired careers (Taveira & Moreno, 2003).

At this stage, individuals tend to choose specified study areas in which they are most interested in, so that they can identify themselves with them in their future career life. Since this phase happens at later stage of adolescence, it forms a strong base for incorporation of the personal interests in their life careers.

On completing all the training courses relevant to the identified careers, individuals enter into the field to practice their gained skills, a phase called ‘implementation’. Implementation is the last stage which involves actual engagement of individuals in their long-desired careers or jobs with regard to personal values and desires.

At this stage, the various aspects of the chosen career become part of them and subsequently start identifying themselves with such careers.

As revealed by Clarke (2005), identity development at adolescence stage acts as one of the fundamental aspects of adulthood development among individuals. During their adolescence stage, individuals tend to use their own understanding to build foundations for constructing their future identities.

More specifically, adolescents tend to develop lifespan creations which links their identity development and the ‘adult-self’.

It is quite important to note that, ‘lifespan construct’ is an integral of past, present and future experiences and cultural practices to facilitate personal identification, which includes scenario and social aspects of identity development.

The scenario aspects include individuals’ expectations of what they will become or do in their future dates. On the other hand, the social aspect links all previous events and the future aspirations to come up with more defined identity.

Generally, identity development is a lifelong journey integrated with a variety of experiences and cultures among individuals. Though the process of identity development is similar, the overall outcome of such individuals is ultimately different since different individuals have diverse preferences and desires.

Though adolescence stage forms a basis for the development of identity among individuals, various stages have been reveled to offer opportunities for reevaluation of the desired goals and objectives.

As noted by Ferrer-Wreder et al (2002), identity development is a multi-dimensional process that offers individuals with specific and focal concentration on particular aspects of culture of experiences for perfections, resulting into self actualization.

Interview Questions Used in the Study

Question 1: What do you aspire to be in your future life?

Question 2: What subjects do you find the most interesting in your studies?

Question 3: What is the motivation behind your intense interest in these subjects?

Question 4: Does you parents follow up your learning studies at home?

Question 5: What are your views on your parents’ engagement in your learning? Are they significant in your career development?

Question 6: What are some of the challenges that you often face in your self actualization?

Question 7: Are teachers and peers significant in your career ambitions?

Question 8: Why do you think so?

Question 9: Among the three groups, that is parents, teachers and peers, which one do you think has influenced your thinking and reasoning patterns most?

Question 10: What are the reasons for your perception?

Interview Results

According to the 15 year-old girl, her future-life aspirations is to become an aviation engineer. As it was revealed, the girl’s most interesting studies are science-based, in which the most treasured subjects were physics and mathematics.

Being an adolescent, the girl’s ability to reason and think abstractively seems to have been developing effectively and efficiently. One of the main motivating agents for the girl’s aspirations in becoming an aviation engineer is largely based on her father’s encouragements to pursue aviation technology.

More so, the girl revealed how she finds it easy to understand the concepts in mathematics and physics, making her develop innate interest towards the careers related to these study areas (Personal Communication, May 7, 2011).

On the other hand, the 14 year-old boy revealed how he is much interested in becoming a lawyer in his future life. According to the boy, political science and constitutional affairs are the most treasured areas of specialization.

At this age of development, the boy showed a lot of interest in understanding legal matters associated with social interactions in the society. Particularly, abstract reasoning various legal proceeding associated with social interactions in this boy seemed to have developed well.

As revealed by this interviewee’s interest and motivation towards legal matters was attributed by his brother who was one of the prospective lawyers in the state. In addition, the boy revealed how his deceased father used to encourage him to follow the foot-prints of his brother.

As a result, the boy’s interest in identifying himself with lawyer career has largely been part of his aspirations and ambitions (Personal Communication, May 7, 2011).

As revealed by the 15 year-old girl, her parents were actively involved in her studies since her father was occasionally having a talk with her about her studies and future career.

Due to her high concern of her parents towards her education, the girl seemed quite motivated in her studies, which inherently reflected her identity development towards scientific innovations.

According to the fifteen-year old girl, her parental involvement in her studies have largely impacted her in her concentration in science subjects in order to fulfill her fathers desire oh her becoming an aviation engineer.

Particularly, the involvement of this girl’s parents in her studies has played a very significant role in determining her decision to pursue in aviation engineering for her career (Personal Communication, May 7, 2011).

On the other hand, the 14 year-old boy revealed how his parents have been playing significant role in the decisions he take about her studies. Though her father is deceased, this interviewee revealed how the father used to encourage him to pursue engineering career in his future life.

As a result, the boy’s interest in legal studies and political science has largely been triggered by his father’s encouragements to pursue the lawyer career. More so, the boy revealed how her mother never ceases to check over his books to see how he performs.

It is this direct parental concern over his education that has facilitated the development of high interests in legal studies in this boy.

Precisely, the impact of parental encouragements in the boy’s preferences and wishes in studies that have enhanced his deep interests in identifying himself with career in the judicial matters in his future life (Personal Communication, May 7, 2011).

As revealed by the 15 year-old girl, one of the main challenges that she was encountering in her self actualization is that, some of her peer group members used to discourage her a lot on her decisions to pursue on science subjects.

Since mathematics and physics are perceived as quite challenging subjects for females, the girl has greatly been finding it a bit challenging to cope with her peers’ discouragements. However, the girl revealed how her ambitions are strongly embedded on her parents’ powerful influences on her career development.

On this basis, the challenges the girl was facing in her ambitions to attain self actualization through succeeding in aviation studies have largely been countered by her parents’ strong influences on her academic life (Personal Communication, May 7, 2011).

Further, the 14 year-old revealed that, one of the main challenges he has been facing in his ambitions to realize self actualization is discouragements from his tutor. As the boy reported, his tutor never recommended anything positive on her performance, which makes him afraid of his competence in comprehending legal issues.

Particularly, the lack of positive remarks from his tutor has always been a challenging issue in this boy’s efforts to acquire self actualization through his success in pursuing political science and judicial studies and subsequently become a lawyer.

However, the boy has been able to counter this challenge by reflecting on his outstanding performance in subjects related to judicial matters. More so, the encouragements from his brother have been quite influential in his ambitions to develop successful identity with career in judicial matters (Personal Communication, May 7, 2011).

In addition, the two respondents revealed how peers and teachers have been of great influence in their desired career development. According to the 14 year-old boy, his teacher has negatively been influencing his ambitions to become a lawyer.

By being non-encouraging and absolutely not recommending any potential ability in the boy, the teacher has been acting as a strong barrier for the boy’s career development.

On the other hand, the 15 year-old girl revealed how her physics teacher has been encouraging her to pursue science related careers in her future studies, since she had the capacity to succeed in the subject area.

However, most of the girl’s peers have been quite discouraging in her ambitions to pursue science-related career. On the other hand, the 14 year-old boy revealed how his peer group members have not been of any influence on his career development (Personal Communication, May 7, 2011).

Among parents, teachers, and peer group members, the 14 year-old boy revealed how parental influences are the most remarkable in his preferences to become a lawyer.

Since his teacher has not been of any motivation in his ambitions in academic life, the boy revealed how his decision to pursue judicial studies for his career has largely been attributed to his parents’ encouragements.

Similarly, the 15 year-old girl reported how her parental efforts in her future career are more recommendable than her teachers’. In addition, the girl revealed how her peers are the least influential in her ambitions to identify herself with aviation technology in her career life (Personal Communication, May 7, 2011).

Synthesis of the Results

As revealed by Kail & Cavanaugh (2001), young people tend to choose their future careers with regard to special values associated with the chosen career. More precisely motivation is one of the most significant aspects facilitating the development of career among young individuals at their adolescence stage.

As noted by Germeijs & Verschueren (2006), orientation on career choice is one of the most important aspects or career development among adolescents.

With respect to the interviewee’s motivation in their specific career preferences, parental encouragements and other motivating factors have been found quite important in the adolescents’ positive attitude towards the subjects they consider as helping them build their careers on.

By having active parents’ in their education, the participants’ attitude towards the preferred careers can be attributed to external forces, rather than their own efforts.

Quite importantly, protocol is one of the most facilitators of career identity development among adolescents. With the perception of their parents influences as the most reliable and useful for their careers, the interviewees in this study can be described to be lacking the exposure to explore careers on their own.

Since self exploration is one of the major identity developments among adolescents as they advance to adulthood, there is likelihood of these two interviewees to change their careers after they get exposed to high levels of exploration.

Meanwhile, there are chances of their attachment to their career dreams in cases where they fail to get exposed much to a wider range of diverse knowledge which may sway their careers (Clarke, 2005).

According to Ferrer-Wreder et al (2002), successful development of career identity requires skills needed for exploring and comparing various alternatives at their disposal. In this case, individuals who fail to be exposed to situations of self exploration to compare various alternatives emerge out as having instabilities in their future careers.

Though the development of career identity is largely controlled by the social environment among adolescents, their exposure to wider range of learning and exploration skills is quite significant.

Considering the case between the two interviewees in this study, their lack of exposure to acquire self-exploration skills may result into their careers being faced by various problems.

This is on the basis that, such individuals will come to explore other alternatives at their later career life, which may adversely affect their efficiency in such careers.

As noted by Head (1997), junior adolescents tend to identify themselves with careers which entice their most treasured people like relatives and teachers. As a result of future exploration of various alternatives, such individuals may uphold these careers or change them according to the influences they get on the course of their exploration.

As reported by Kroger (2007), the tendency of adolescents to explore the world through abstract reasoning is one of the major exploration aspects as they decide the specific careers they would like to associate themselves with.

Though at later stages adolescents are much influenced by their empirical experience with the world, much of their preferences is large embedded on their family and social-life orientations.

As it has been observed in the thirteen-year old boy, his family perceptions of judicial studies careers as the best can be attributed to his decision to pursue law in his future career.

Similarly, the fifteen-year old girl seems to be much influenced by his father to consider aviation engineering as her future career. On this basis, the impact of parental involvement in the development of career identity among adolescents remains quite remarkable among many teenagers.

As held by Taveira & Moreno (2003) adolescents at their senior stage of becoming adults become active explorers of the available alternatives in their lives, especially for their careers.

This is reflected by their tendency to start engaging in new beliefs and practices as they try out various social opportunities and alternatives at their disposal. Though most of their practices are largely controlled by their social orientations in life, many of them tend to be swayed away by new influences.

As a result, their tendency to change their previously established career-dreams may be adversely affected, resulting into them choosing new careers. Since the interviewees in this study are still in their early development stages of their adolescence, crystallization seems to dominate most of their career identity attributes.

As they advance to their late adolescence stage, much of influences from the real world experiences are expected to facilitate their career choices, as they engage in ‘specialization’.

Particularly, Boan & Piquette-Tomei (2009) considers free will of expression among adolescents as they try to associate themselves with the societal norms and values in their efforts to acquire self actualization.

As noted by Clarke (2005), the understanding of adolescent development is a key aspect of consideration when creating career planning models for teenagers. In this case, parental and teachers’ involvement plays very important roles in facilitating the development of the most effective careers capable of meeting the needs of the adolescents in their future life.

Since at the stage of adolescence individuals’ cognitive ability is high, their ability to think on their careers and their various aspects of social becomes clearly elaborated through abstract reasoning.

In this regard, the tendency of the interviewees’ parents to encourage them to get engrossed in specific careers makes sense in the way parents usually have overall understanding of their children and usually want the best for them.

Through various encouragements they get from their parents, there is high likelihood of the interviewees used in this study to strongly remain embedded in their anticipated careers.

Since career formation is essentially enhanced through continued interests, relevant tasks and discussions should be maintained among the adolescents. As Kail & Cavanaugh (2001) argues, adolescents should be engaged in more practical learning and activities which relate to their anticipated careers in order to enhance advancement of career skills as they venture to specialization.

This practice is quite important in the sense that, advanced exploration and perfection is easily achieved through practice, promoting employability among the adolescents.

As observed in this study, the ability of teachers and parents of the 15 year-old girl to encourage her and subsequently help her realize her potential in science-related subjects seems quite appropriate to enhance self exploration of the anticipated career of aviation engineering.

Since career forms one of the most fundamental aspects of self actualization, Germeijs & Verschueren (2006) reveals how career identity is significant among adolescents. As Ferrer-Wreder et al (2002) holds, many adults tend to identify themselves with their occupations, an indication of how careers are impactful among the people.

On this basis, nurturing of career identity among adolescents seems a very useful strategy, since such individuals will be able to employ the knowledge they acquire in their early life to innovate in their careers.

Particularly, when individuals realize their potential and abilities in their early life, chances of remarkable success in their future endeavors are high.

This is on the basis that, repeated usage of knowledge related to their preferred careers and subsequently engage in empirical experiences of such careers establishes strong bases for successful career development in them.

On this basis, the tendency of the two interviewees in this study to be engaged in career choosing at their early life will enhance success in their future endeavors, since they will sequentially gain exposure and experience in the filed related to their careers.


As it has been revealed, career identity development is one of fundamental aspects of personal development among adolescents, as it culminates to self actualization. With respect to the interviewed teenagers in this study, it has clearly bee exposed on how significant and influential parental and teachers impacts are on career development among the studied teenagers.

Though they are at their early age of development, their close engagement with their family members seems to be one of the core factors facilitating their specific career identity development.

Though science-related are considered as highly challenging to females, the 15 year-old girl interviewed is brought out as identifying herself with engineering career as a result of influence from her parents and teachers.

As it has been noted, cognitive development among teenagers facilitates their ability to identify themselves with various careers. In this regard, culture and social relationships in which such individuals interact with influence their career development largely.

Basically many adolescents are brought out as having the capacity to develop specific attitudes towards a particular career, in which they prefer to identify themselves with in their adulthood.

In this regard, explorations and experiences are quite significant among such adolescents, since they facilitate skills and knowledge perfection in their areas of specialization in their future careers.


Boan, S. & Piquette-Tomei, N. (2009). Adolescent Development and Career Planning in Schools. Web.

Clarke, E. (2005). . Web.

Ferrer-Wreder, L. et al. (2002). Promoting Identity Development in Marginalized Youth. Journal of Adolescent Research, 17: 168-187.

Germeijs, V. & Verschueren, K. (2006). High School Students’ Career Decision-Making Process: a Longitudinal Study of one Choice. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 68: 189-204.

Head, J. (1997). Working With adolescents: Constructing Identity. London: Falmer Press.

Kail, R. & Cavanaugh, J. (2001). Human Development: A Lifespan View, 2nd edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishers.

Kroger, J. (2007). Identity Development: Adolescence through Adult-hood. New York: Sage Publications, Inc.

Taveira, D., & Moreno, M. (2003). Guidance theory and practice: The status of career Exploration. British Journal of Guidance and Counseling, 31(2): 189-208.

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