Development of Identity Clarity and Content in Adulthood

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Abstract

The current research examines self-concept clarity over 2 assessment points with the aims of establishing patterns of stability and change in self-concept clarity across adulthood, modeling corollary changes in traits and health-related role limitations, and demonstrating the ways in which gender and age moderate these patterns. Within this sample of 461 adults age 19–86 years of age, self-concept clarity had robust rank-order stability and no significant mean-level change during a 3-year assessment window. However, significant interindividual variability was present in the developmental patterns of self-concept clarity over time. These individual differences in development of self-concept clarity corresponded to developmental patterns in Big Five personality traits and health-related role limitations. Results of this 2 wave longitudinal study suggest 3 primary conclusions: (a) self-concept clarity predicts and corresponds to trait maturation over time, (b) decreasing self-concept clarity corresponds to increasing role limitations, and (c) these effects are somewhat contingent on gender and age. Results are discussed in reference to the maturation of identity content and metacognitive identity evaluation over the life span.

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