Definition: An identity moratorium is one step in the process of finding a sense of self. It is a period of active searching for one's occupational, religious, ethnic or other form of identity. During a moratorium, individuals typically explore many different options - such as visiting different types of churches - and do not feel committed to any one approach. In other words, a person in a moratorium is undergoing an active "identity crisis." While this period may feel confusing and difficult to endure, many psychologists believe that an individual must go through a moratorium before he or she can form a true sense of identity (a state called Identity Achievement).
Identity moratoriums often occur during the late tween and teen years, as individuals struggle to figure out "who they are." This is a normal part of personality development. Notably, though, an identity moratorium can happen at any time in one's life. In addition, moratoriums usually occur for different types of identity (e.g., political, racial or cultural identity) at different times. In other words, we rarely undergo crises about multiple parts of our identity at once.