Erickson: Identity Stage and Identity Confusion

Adolescent Interview Teenage years can be a challenging time for many individuals. Beginning at the age of 11 through 20, adolescence is defined as a “transitional period in the human life span, linking childhood and adulthood” (Santrock 2009). At this point, the person is no longer a child, but not yet an adult. This makes it a very critical and sensitive time frame for identity formation. According to Erik Erikson, adolescence is marked by the child’s questioning his or her identity during what he refers to as the identity versus identity confusion developmental stage.

During this phase, the adolescent becomes mindful of his or her identity and seeks his or her purpose in life, as well as the answer to the eternal question, “who am I? ” In their quest to find their sense of self, adolescents experiment with different personalities and roles. Some teenagers display rebellious behavior, which is normal, as they experience a flood of countless emotions. The teens that are able to cope with the differing identities are able to form a new identity that they can accept.

On the other hand, those who cannot cope during this experimental period suffer what Erikson calls identity confusion, where they either withdraw themselves from everyone else, or they lose themselves in their peers. Adding to Erikson’s developmental stages, James Marcia proposed that individuals who are in the stage of finding an identity could be classified in four statuses: identity diffusion, identity foreclosure, identity moratorium, and identity achievement. Those with the identity diffusion status have not experienced a crisis nor have made any commitments, and are apathetic.

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Individuals with identity foreclosure have made a commitment, which their parents have forced upon them, but have not had a crisis. Teens with the identity moratorium are going through a crisis, and have poorly defined commitments or none at all. Ultimately, those with identity achievement have experienced a crisis and made a firm commitment (Santrock 2009). After I obtained parental consents, I interviewed five 16-year-old male Filipinos. They are all currently freshmen at Warren Township High School. Some of the subjects they are studying include biology, English, geometry, history, and health.

Although at times they are overwhelmed with the amount of homework from each class, they are still able to keep up and maintain above average grades. All of their peers, including those with the same age in their neighborhood currently go to school. After high school, they all plan on going to college and major in nursing, much like their mothers, father and older siblings. Based on their responses, their current identity status is that of foreclosure. This is because their mother, father and other siblings are nurses, and so they feel compelled or pressured to continue the nursing tradition in their families.

They all admitted to not have experienced a crisis yet, nor being in the midst of one. The five teenagers that I interviewed do not currently work. Their main focus is school, as it should be. However, they stated that if given the opportunity, they would like to take up a job so that they could start saving money for themselves and to help out their families with their expenses. They do not seem to have too many responsibilities given to them by their parents, aside from doing household chores and maintaining decent grades in school. Even though their parents allowed them with some autonomy, they do not take this for granted.

They still obtain permission from their parents; they respect their wishes and abide by their rules. This is an important aspect in the Filipino culture, where respect for the elderly is emphasized, as well as obligations to the family. In this way, they all believe that their culture has influenced their adolescence greatly. By giving them some freedom, their parents are creating an environment in which they can explore different roles and identities. Eventually, I think this will help them develop a sense of self, one that they would be comfortable with and is acceptable.

I noticed that their attire consisted of Nike, Ecko, Addidas and clothes that show off Filipino pride and Manny Pacquiao’s clothing. Their style changes with each new fashion trend, and is similar to their friends’ styles of clothing. They all still speak Tagalog, their native tongue, and enjoy traditional Filipino activities and foods. It is nice that they are able to have a bicultural identity, where they are able to identify with their Filipino culture in some ways, and with the American culture in other ways. It seems like they are still in the process of finding an identity, as evident by their constantly changing clothing styles.

Now, they seem to conform to the current styles of fashion that is popular among their peers, and has yet to develop their own taste in clothing. In terms of friendships, it amazes me that they all consider at least 15 to 20 of his peers to be their close friends. They believe that they have established a trusting relationship with these individuals. When getting together, their close friends would spend the night at each other’s houses, go out to meet with other friends, and attend parties. Some of the qualities they look for in a friend include good sense of humor, trustworthiness, responsible, and reliability.

What I noticed is that they usually try to steer clear from people who pressure them into doing something that they do not want to do. Relationship-wise with the opposite sex, they stated that they date girls from their age group. Three of them are dating and the other two currently do not have girlfriends. Their parents never really enforced dating rules, so there was no specific age in which he could date. They claim that they started dating in middle school. On a typical date, they take the girl out to eat, watch a movie, or hang out with other friends.

They tried to act like themselves, although they tend to filter out what they thought the girls would find unattractive. They all deny being sexually active at this time, and claimed that kissing is the highest level of intimacy they have achieved. Based on recent studies and correlations, they could be at risk for becoming sexually active early on and perhaps even get an adolescent female pregnant if they do not have lots of self-control. So far, all five teenagers like being an adolescent because of the freedom they have. Their parents are not holding a tight leash on them, so to speak.

On the other hand, one aspect of being an adolescent that they do not like is having more responsibilities from school and at home. Compared to adolescents from previous generations, they feel that today’s adolescents are more carefree and not so uptight. They also point out the tremendous change from the previous generation brought on by technology. They stated that communication has forever changed with cell phones and the Internet at their fingertips. Now, there is less physical and human interaction. I would have to agree with their thoughts about this generation’s adolescents.

Overall, I think that the five male teenagers fit the description of an adolescent to a tee. This is solely based on their responses to the interview, as well as from my observations. In summary, all five male teenagers are still exploring different identities in what Erikson calls the identity versus identity confusion stage. They also fit Marcia’s identity status of foreclosure. They are only 16 years old and have few years ahead of them before they reach early adulthood. Hopefully, they would find their individualities during these trying times that we call adolescence.

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Erickson: Identity Stage and Identity Confusion. (2019, Jun 20). Retrieved from

Erickson: Identity Stage and Identity Confusion
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