James Marcia's Theory of Identity

         Psychologists have defined the process in which a human goes through to find their true self as our identity. While many great thinkers throughout history have tackeled the idea of identity, none stand in comparison to the understandings that James Marcia discovered in his years of research and the study of identity. Marcia began his studies by interviewing various people from all walks and asking them how they chose aspects such as their religion, occupation, etc. Marcia concluded that there are four identity statuses. The first statue is referred to as identity diffusion and generally consists of not knowing or understanding one's identity or who they truly are. The next is foreclosure which is when a person has determined beliefs about certain things (for example religion) without having previously ventured into the other options. This statue is then followed by moratorium which reflects almost the exact opposite ideas from foreclosure. Moratorium is a time in which said individual continues to explore and learn about the options they were previously closed off to. The fourth and last stage of Marcia's theory of identity is achievement. Achievement refers to the identity or kind of person that, in the end, one becomes after passing through all of the prior phases.

        We can see these phases in people of all ages. We tend to see the first phases in adolescents and young adults while we see the later phases in adults maturing into later phases of their lives. If you think about it, no one is the same person that they were, say, ten years ago. As we go through life we change due to the world around us just as the very world we live in adapts to changing norms and behaviors. These changes are what, ultimately, shape us into the human beings we become, it just takes a little while to get there.


As a rising junior, I have been with the Early College program for two years and within those years I have changed drastically. I went from wearing black clothing on a day to day basis and listening to sad wanna-be rock music to the person that I am today within a relatively short period of time. As a freshman, I was struggling to find my place in the social groups within this school. I began as a 9th grader from Bethany with a fairly limited group of people I considered my friends. It was in this transition that I found the people that I have since grown so close to. I have made valuable relationships among various people that could quite possibly go beyond high school.  


- "James Marcia's Identity Theory: Understanding Adolescents' Search For Identity"  by Wind Goodfriend