Gender Differences in Identity Development: An Examination of Longitudinal Data

By Streitmatter, Janice | Adolescence, Spring 1993 | Go to article overview

Gender Differences in Identity Development: An Examination of Longitudinal Data


Streitmatter, Janice, Adolescence


Identity development, as theorized by Erikson (1968) over twenty years ago, is the focus of psychosocial development during the adolescent years. Of the "eight stages of man," the fifth stage, identity achievement versus role confusion, involves youth from the onset of puberty.

This stage has been an area of particular interest, commencing with attempts to operationalize Erikson's conceptualization of the growing-up process of young people. Marcia (1966, 1980) conceptualized the process of identity development as passage through some or all of four identity statuses. The central issues of crisis and commitment correspond to Erikson's concept of identity achievement. In order to operationalize this interpretation, Marcia developed an interview format as a means of determining an individual's identity status.

Examination of identity development by gender has received increased attention. Two particular veins of this research have surfaced. Studies conducted by Archer(1982, 1989), Adams and Fitch (1982), and Grotevant and Thorbecke (1982) have examined gender differences in identity development within the more traditional Eriksonian framework. In contrast, work by Gilligan and associates (1979, 1988) and Lyons (1983) challenges Erikson's theory of identity development with regard to gender. They argue that Erikson's concepts of psychosocial development are male oriented and do not reflect the female experience. Because the methodologies, analyses, and findings are in stark contrast, a brief review of each side of the issue of whether the process of identity development tends to be gender specific follows.

Archer's (1982) cross-sectional study of early and middle adolescents addressed the issue of gender differences in identity development, in addition to age-related differences. Using Marcia's (1966) ego-identity interview format, a total of 160 subjects were interviewed. Results indicated no significant gender differences according to grade level. Further, when responses were examined according to specific content areas (e.g., vocational, religious, and political), no significant differences in identity status by gender were obtained. Archer concluded that females and males proceed through the identity statuses in like fashion.

A second work by Archer (1989) examined gender differences in identity development according to three dimensions. Does the process of identity formation differ by gender? Do the domains in which females and males define themselves differ? Is the timing of attention to identity development concerns differentiated by gender? Results from the three studies suggested that the genders involved themselves in the identity process similarly, with the exception of the foreclosure status. Males were more often identified as foreclosed than were females. When measuring political ideology, males were more foreclosed and females more diffused. Moratorium and identity achievement were more prevalent for females than for males in the area of family roles. Finally, Archer found no timing differences in the identity development process by gender in two of the three studies. As in the earlier study, Archer used Marcia's (1966) interview format to obtain data.

In light of the considerable research examining differences between the sexes during adolescence (other than identity development), this finding may appear puzzling. For example, it has been substantiated that females mature earlier than males in several developmental aspects; females reach puberty before males (e.g., Blyth, Simmons, & Zakin, 1985) and, although results are somewhat conflicting, some studies indicate gender differences in psychosocial development. Douvan and Adelson (1966) concluded that the route to definition of oneself is gender specific. Self-esteem is an additional area of apparent gender differentiation. A number of studies suggest that females have lower self-esteem than males, particularly during early adolescence (Simmons, Brown, Bush, & Blyth, 1978). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Gender Differences in Identity Development: An Examination of Longitudinal Data
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.