Marcia’s Ego Identity Statuses
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 https://www.revolvy.com/main/index.php?s=James%20Marcia.
Printable Summary (PDF)
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
- Exploration also called crisis – crisis involves questioning of values and goals defined by parents and weighing various identity alternatives and their potential repercussions
- Commitment – attaching ownership to pronounced choices, values, and goals
Four Identity States
- Foreclosure (No crisis/Commitment) a. The individual accepts parental values without questioning them
- Moratorium (Crisis/No Commitment) a. Actively question in order to form their identity, however, comes without commitment
- 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
- 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).
Marcia, J. E. (1966). Development and validation of ego-identity status. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 3, 551-558.
A website overview of Marcia’s theory:
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