Developmental Typologies of Identity Formation and Adjustment in Female Emerging Adults: A Latent Class Growth Analysis Approach

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The developmental interplay between identity and adjustment was examined in a seven-wave longitudinal study of 428 European female college students (Mage=18.8 years) over a period of 3 years, with semi-annual measurement waves each year. Latent Class Growth Analysis (LCGA) was used to identify developmental typologies of both identity formation (i.e., dimensions of commitment and exploration) and adjustment (i.e., depressive symptoms and self-esteem). Four trajectory classes emerged for identity, three of which had been suggested earlier in the literature (Josselson, 1996): Pathmakers, Guardians, and Searchers. The fourth trajectory class was labeled Consolidators and consisted of individuals characterized by a strong focus on strengthening their current identity commitments, at the expense of a thorough exploration of alternative options. Three trajectory classes were identified for adjustment: Optimal Adjustment, Moderate Adjustment, and Stable Maladjustment. Each of the four identity trajectory classes was associated with a specific profile of adjustment, with the Searchers showing the poorest profile and the Pathmakers and Consolidators the most positive profile. Practical implications and suggestions for future research are outlined.

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