Marcia’s Ego Identity Statuses 

Brief Overview

Marcia introduced identity statuses to explain how college students experience and are able to resolve crises.

About the Author

James E. Marcia is a clinical and developmental psychologist and is known for extending Erik Erikson’s work. James Marcia came up with four Identity Statuses of psychological identity development. For more information on Marcia, please visit


Printable Summary (PDF)

Previous cohorts of FSU students have developed these printable summaries and used them to prepare for test and papers.  We hope they’ll be of help to you too.

Stages, Levels, Phases, and Components of the Theory


Stages, Levels, Phases, and Components of the Theory: 

Marcia – Ego Identity Statuses

  • This theory is grounded in the research in Erikson’s stage theory.  James Marcia created a “prototype of needed empirical study” on identity development of young adults and it was used to show how students experience and resolve crises.

Two Critical Variables in identify formation

  1. Exploration also called crisis – crisis involves questioning of values and goals defined by parents and weighing various identity alternatives and their potential repercussions
  2. Commitment – attaching ownership to pronounced choices, values, and goals

Four Identity States

  1. Foreclosure (No crisis/Commitment) a. The individual accepts parental values without questioning them
  2. Moratorium (Crisis/No Commitment) a. Actively question in order to form their identity, however, comes without commitment
  3. Identity Achievement (Crisis/Commitment) a. Extensive period, sort through alternatives, make crucial choices that lead to strong commitments in setting goals and establishing (a.) firm foundation (b.) Engage in risk-taking (c.) Choose own path in life
  4. Diffusion (No Crisis/No Commitment) a. Refuse to or are unable to firmly commit
Application of Theory to Practice


This section is designed to provide student affairs professionals, staff, and faculty members with tips and tools to apply theory to practice.

Annotations of Associated Literature

“Students who worked with advisors who encouraged reflection in goal setting and intentional planning and discussed with students their nonacademic life experiences were more likely to develop abilities and perspectives associated with self-authorship” (Evans et al., 190).

Original Citation

Marcia, J. E. (1966). Development and validation of ego-identity status. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 3, 551-558.

Additional Resources

A website overview of Marcia’s theory:

James Marcia’s Identity Statuses


This page was written and created by Ashlie Baty. Please use the comment section below to ask questions, provide reflection, discussion and/or feedback. To contact directly about this page, please see Ashlie Baty at