Outline two different psychological approaches to identity. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each?
The process of attaching meaning to the concept of identity is arguably a subjective one. Is an individual's identity a self-perception, or should identity be considered more in terms of a summary view of how others perceive a individual? If an individual identifies themselves as holding certain characteristic traits, yet others do not associate those traits with that individual, then what is that individual's true identity? Similarly, if an individual may hold personal beliefs that they choose not to project onto their public persona, do those beliefs form part of that persons identity? Further to these questions, there are issues with regard to the classification systems that should be applied to identity. For example, should emphasis be placed on an individual's gender, or perhaps sexual orientation? Are such identifications only relevant in certain situations? The concept of identity is a complicated and it can perhaps be suggested that no general approach to identity can be made. However, two key questions can be raised. Do individual's hold a core-identity, a fundamental set of characteristics true to that person which do not change according to social situation, or should more emphasis be placed on social identity (or identities) rather than personal identity? Secondly, when and why is individual's identity realised or developed? I shall now consider two different psychological approaches to these questions..
Psychosocial theories of identity are part of the wider theory of psychosocial development as articulated by Erik Erikson. Although Erikson saw the formation of identity as a lifelong developmental process which passes from infancy to late adulthood, he considered it to be particularly important during adolescence, the fifth psychosocial stage. Erikson suggested that development is marked by eight stages throughout an individuals life,...
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