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Identity and Personality 

The Self



The Self

Self-Understanding 

Self: 

All characteristics of a person

Self-understanding, self-esteem, self-concept

Identity: 

Who a person is.

Personality: 

Enduring personal characteristics of individuals.

Young children perceive self as external characteristics.

Older children recognize difference between inner and outer states.

The Self

Early Childhood 

Self-understanding: 

Self-descriptions are unrealistic

positive overestimations 

Understanding others: 

Individual differences in

social understanding linked to caregivers.

The Self

Middle and Late Childhood 

Self-understanding: (5 key changes) 

Internal characteristics emphasized

More referencing in social descriptions

More use of social comparisons

Distinguish between real self and ideal self

Realistic in self-evaluations

Understanding others: 

Increased perspective taking.

Perspective-taking: 

Ability to assume another’s perspective and understand his or her thoughts and feelings.

The Self

Self-Understanding in Adolescence 

Abstract and idealistic

Self-conscious; preoccupied with self

Contradictions within the self – multiple roles in different contexts realized

Fluctuating self over time and situations

Compare real and ideal selves 

Possible selves: what persons may be, would like to be, and are afraid of becoming

Self-integration in sense of identity

The Self

Changes in Self-Understanding in Adulthood 

Self-Awareness: 

Awareness of strengths and weaknesses

Improves in young and middle adulthood

Possible Selves: 

Get fewer and more concrete with age

Some revise throughout adulthood

Life Review: 

Some in middle age, common in older adults

Evaluations of successes and failures

The Self

Issues with Self-Esteem 

Modest correlations link self-esteem and school performance; links vary between adult job performance and selfesteem

Self-esteem related to perceived physical appearance across life-span

Depression lowers high self-esteem

Persons with high self-esteem:

Increased happiness

Have greater initiative

Prone to both prosocial and antisocial actions

Undeserved high self-esteem: 

Narcissism: self-centered, self-concerned


Lack of awareness linked to adjustment problems

The Self

Self-Esteem in Childhood and Adolescence 

Accuracy of self-evaluations increases across the elementary school years

Majority of adolescents have positive self-image crossculturally

Girls’ self-esteem is lower than boys’ by middle school years

The Self

Self-Esteem in Adulthood 

Some researchers find drops in self-esteem in late adulthood; others don’t.

Older adults with positive self-esteem: 

May not see losses as negatively

Decrease in knowledge-related goals

Increase in emotion-related goals

Compare themselves to other older adults

Prenatal Development

Self-Esteem Across the Lifespan

The Self

Self-Regulation in Infancy and Early Childhood 12-18 months

Depend on caregivers for reminder signals about acceptable behaviors

2-3 years

Begin to comply with the caregiver’s expectations in the absence of monitoring


Learn to resist temptation and give themselves instructions that keep them focused

The Self

Self-Regulation in Middle/Late Childhood and Adolescence 

Self-regulation increases from about 5 or 6 years up to 7 or 8 years of age

Across elementary school years, children increase beliefs that behavior is result of own effort and not luck

From 8 to 14 years of age, children increase perception of self-responsibility for failure

 Successful

self-regulation in aging linked to:


Reduction in performance


Continue practice, use of technology


Concealment; offsetting or counterbalancing a deficiency

The Self

Personal Control 

Primary control striving: 

One’s efforts to change external world to fit needs and desires.

Attain personal goals, overcome obstacles.

Secondary control striving: 

Targets one’s inner worlds: motivation, emotion, and mental representation.


What is Identity? Self-portrait of many identities: 






• • • • •

Sexual Cultural/ethnic Interests Personality Physical


Erikson’s Ideas on Identity Erickson: 

Identity versus identity confusion: 

Adolescents examine who they are, what they are about, and where they are going in life.

Psychosocial moratorium: 

Gap between childhood security and adult autonomy, part of adolescent identity exploration.

_____________________________________________________________ 

Marcia: 

Individuals go through periods of-

Crisis: exploring alternatives during identity development.

Commitment: individuals show personal investment in what they are going to do.


Marcia’s Identity Statuses


Early Adolescence to Adulthood 

Most important changes occur ages 18 to 25

“MAMA” cycle: pattern for positive identity moratorium • achievement • moratorium • achievement

_____________________________________________________________ 

Parenting styles: 

Democratic foster identity achievement

Autocratic foster identity foreclosure

Permissive foster identity diffusion


Trait Theories and the Big Five Factors of Personality 

Trait Theories: ď‚—

Personality is broad dispositions or traits that tend to produce characteristic responses.


Views On Adult Development 

Stage-Crisis View: 

Levinson’s Seasons of a Man’s Life-

Stage and transitions occur in life span.

Tasks or crisis in each stage shape personality.

Levinson’s midlife crisis in 40s.


Age and WellBeing


The Life-Events Approach 

Now contemporary life-events approach.

How a life event influences individual’s development depends on: 

The life event

Individual’s adaptation to the life event

Life-stage context

Sociohistorical context


Generativity versus Stagnation 

Seventh stage in Erikson’s life-span theory:


Encompasses adults’ desire to leave legacy to next generation

Middle-aged adults develop in number of ways


Also self-absorption, develops when one senses s/he has done nothing for next generation


Stability and Change 

Many longitudinal studies have found evidence for both change and stability in personality in adulthood: 

Smith College Study

Costa and McCrae’s Baltimore Study

Berkley Longitudinal Studies

Helson’s Mills College Study

Vaillant’s studies


Stability and Change 

Cumulative Personality Model: 

With time and age, people become more adept at interacting with environment in ways that promote stability

Overall, personality is affected by: 

Social contexts

New experiences

Sociohistorical changes

Identity and personality