Identity typology and self-esteem

  • Marcia (1980) distinguishes 4 identities
  • depending on gender, identities have different effects on a person´s self-esteem
Overview of topics:
Model of identity typology
Self-esteem of the sexes

First, we introduce the model before moving on to self-esteem and the difference between the sexes.

Model of identity typology

Marcia (1980) distinguishes between different types of identity:

Developed identity: values of the family are rejected and new values are appropriated.

Diffuse identity: values of the family are rejected without accepting new values

Adopted identity: values of the family are adopted

Moratorium: phase when old values are rejected and new ones are not yet established

and these in turn can take the form of one:

strong identity: awareness of one’s own values as well as similarities and differences to others

weak identity: no fixed boundaries to others and depending on the feedback of the environment to assess oneself

According to Marcia, whether an identity type corresponds to a strong or weak identity depends on gender:

strong identityweak identity
maledeveloped identity
adopted identity
diffuse Identity
femaledeveloped identity
adopted identity
diffuse Identity

Self-esteem of the sexes

In both sexes, the identity acquired is a strong identity and associated with a high self-esteem. In the case of women it even goes hand in hand with a particularly high self-esteem, but also with increased susceptibility to anxiety. Professional self-fulfilment plays a major role. The young people decide not to adopt the values of the family and look for alternatives. They often distance themselves from the family. New values are critically questioned and only adopted if they are considered right. One then feels connected to these new values.

Diffuse identity is a weak identity in both sexes and is linked to low self-esteem. One feels obliged neither to parental nor to alternative values and does not strive for them. Behavioural patterns are inconsistent and one feels obliged to nothing.

For men, the adopted identity goes hand in hand with a weak identity, but for women it goes hand in hand with a strong identity. For men, the adoption of parental values inhibits their personality development and leads to lower self-esteem. Women, on the other hand, develop a positive self-esteem based on their competence in personal relationships. In this context, Bischof-Köhler warns against the general contempt of women who like to assume the domestic role and have thus built up a positive self-esteem. We should ensure that the values adopted change, but not the values in general.

The moratorium leads to a strong identity for men and a weak identity for women. Women in the moratorium are the most burdened of all groups. For them, this personality type is often accompanied by family problems and they are very susceptible to feelings of guilt and negative self-assessment. They are gifted but insecure and cannot decide between career and family.

» back to:

Self-esteem of the sexes

selfworth-mirror - Happy Jona
Self-esteem – a deep look into the mirror

source: Marcia 1980 nach Bischof-Köhler 2006, p. 306 – 308

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