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Identity Achievement Definition

The Meaning of Identity Achievement


Updated June 13, 2014

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Definition: Identity achievement refers to having found one's true sense of self. It is a key element of personality development.

Psychologists believe that identity achievement can only occur after a person has actively explored a wide variety of options available to him. In other words, a person must undergo an identity crisis (or identity moratorium) in order to reach identity achievement. For instance, a person who is in identity achievement with regard to occupation would have first tried out various career routes via internships, online research, and informational interviews before identifying the best fit.

Children, tweens and teens are all unlikely to have reached the status of identity achievement. They are more likely to be uncertain about their identity (identity diffusion), to have prematurely adopted an "identity" (identity foreclosure) or to be actively searching for a sense of self (identity moratorium).

Identity achievement is one of four identity statuses identified by psychologist James Marcia. Theorist Erik Erikson also wrote extensively about identity crises.

Related terms: Identity Moratorium, Identity Foreclosure, Identity Diffusion, Identity Crisis

Santrock, John, PhD. Children, Eleventh Edition. 2010. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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