ERIK H. ERIKSON JAMES E. MARCIA
• Born June 15, 1902 • Current Professor of
• Frankfurt , Germany Psychology at Simon Fraser
• Mother raised him alone
because of affair University in Vancouver
• 1904: his mother marries • Ph.D. at Ohio State
• Both parents Jewish
• Becomes wandering artist
• 1927: teacher at Freudian
• Exiled to United States 1933
• Died 1994
What’s in a Name?
• Erikson's interest in psychological identity may be traced to his early life. He was born as a
result of his mother's extramarital affair and the circumstances of his birth were concealed
from him in his childhood. His mother, Karla Abrahamsen came from a Jewish family in
Copenhagen with German roots. Since Karla Abrahamsen was officially married to a Jewish
stockbroker Waldemar Isidor Salomonsen at the time, her son, born in Germany, was
registered as Erik Salomonsen.
• There is no more information about his biological father, except that he was a Dane and his
given name probably was Erik. Following her son's birth, Karla studied for a nurse, moved to
Karlsruhe and in 1904 married a Jewish pediatrician Theodor Homburger. In 1909 Erik
Salomonsen became Erik Homburger and in 1911 he was officially adopted by his stepfather.
The development of Identity seems to have been one of his greatest concerns in Erikson's
own life as well as in his theory. During his childhood and early adulthood he was known as
Erik Homburger, and his parents kept the details of his birth a secret. He was a tall, blond,
blue-eyed boy who was raised Jewish.
• However, when he was forced out of Germany by increasingly hostile Nazi influences and
moved to the United States, he changed his name to Erik, son of Erik: Erikson.
• Erik Erikson, while still
in Germany, studied
children under Anna
Freud and was even
analyzed by her.
• Developed Stage Theory
in 1950 with Childhood
• Development, he says,
functions by the epigenetic
principle. It says that humans
develop through a
predetermined unfolding of
personalities in eight stages.
Our progress through each
stage is in part determined by
our success, or lack of success,
in all the previous stages.
• Uses an analogy of fetal
development, the step-by-step
growth of the fetal organs”
(Erikson, Childhood and
Society, pg. 65)
Erikson’s Stage Freud’s Stage
• Trust v Mistrust • Oral: 0-1
• Autonomy v Shame & Doubt • Anal: 1-3
• Initiative v Guilt • Phallic: 3-6
• Industry v Inferiority • Latent: 6-10
• IDENTITY v ROLE CONFUSION • Genital: 10-end of adolescence
Erikson then goes further than Freud
• Intimacy v Isolation (Young Adults)
• Generativity v Stagnation (Adults)
• Integrity v Despair (Elderly)
• With every stage there is great
vulnerability but also great
potential for the individual to grow
Like Piaget, Erikson postulated that these stages were cross-cultural and that
in accordance to the epigenetic principle, one must go through the stages as
• According to Erikson, children, approximately between the
ages of 10-21, undergo an identity crisis.
• During this crisis, a youth begins to worry about their own
place in society and begin to search for their meaning.
• This is largely an unconscious process
• You must create a “central perspective and direction, some
working unity, out of the remnants of his childhood and the
hopes of his anticipated adulthood” (Erikson, Identity and
the Life Cycle, 1958, pg. 98)
• It is important to note: “Ego Identity, then, develops out of
a gradual integration of all identifications, but here if
anywhere the whole has a different quality than the sum of
its parts” (Erikson, Identity and the Life Cycle, pg. 95)
Ego Identity cont.
• Ego identity then, in its subjective aspect, is
the awareness of the fact that there is a
selfsameness and continuity to the ego’s
synthesizing methods, the style of one’s
individuality, and that this style coincides
with the sameness and continuity of one’s
meaning for significant others in the
immediate community” (Erikson, 1968, pg
• “The term identity…connotes both a
persistent sameness within oneself (self-
sameness) and a persistent sharing of some
kind of essential character with others”
(Erikson, 1956, pg. 57)
• Throughout his writings Erikson proposed
that the self-sameness and continuity is
expressed through a “conscious sense of
individual identity,” an unconscious striving
for a “continuity of personal character,” a
continuing process of “ego synthesis,” and an
“inner solidarity” with a group’s “ideals and
social identity.” (1957)
• Erikson briefly treats the
subject of moratorium in his
• He describes the adolescent
mind this way, saying that it
is: “a psychosocial stage
between childhood and
adulthood and between the
morality learned by the
child and the ethics
developed by the adult”
(Erikson, Childhood and
Society, pg 263)
• Erikson continues his theory
by describing the failure to
• Identity diffusion occurs
when a youth is unable to
“settle on an occupational
identity which disturbs [the
individual]. To keep
themselves together, they
temporarily over-identify, to
the point of apparent loss of
identity, with the heroes of
cliques and crowds” These Individuals dress the same way: and example
(Erikson, Childhood and of over-conforming, thus losing their sense of
Society, pg. 262) identity
James E. Marcia
• Published Article in 1966
• Development and validation of ego-
identity status in Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology
• This redefined and sharpened Erikson’s
Theory of Identity Achievement
• Defined the four sub-categories of
Marcia’s Identity Achievement Statuses
May be Present
Completed None In Process but may not be
Commitment Yes Yes Vaguely Present None
Theorized that during Erikson’s Achievement Stage, these would be the different
ways that a person could be. (Note: not one person is ever fully one or the other.
People have all kinds of ideals that they hold and some might be under one
status while other times they may be another.)
Marcia’s Identity Statuses
When a Person is in diffusion, their This status describes individuals who
sense of identity is largely derived are actively seeking out their own
from those people around them. identity but have no real
There is no commitment to this commitment to who they are.
identity but it is a temporary They are aware however of the
state that can be released and alternatives and are exploring
another sense can be just as them as possible choices.
Under this status are individuals Individuals who are foreclosed,
who have explored the says Marcia, have simply
alternatives to their life and have accepted the norms and customs
come to a conclusion of who they of their parents (or government)
are and what they should be. and committed to remaining true
They commit to this idea of the to them. There has been no
self . exploration of alternatives.
• Do public school children tend to have a higher incidence
rate of Identity Achievement then Catholic School Children?
• Will attendance at a private school influence the children at
Holy Family and affect their status of Identity?
• Will being at a public school influence the incidence of
How will divorce factor into the incidence of Identity
Will the children with higher socio-economic backgrounds be
more or less achieved?
Holy Family of Nazareth School Harrison Lane Elementary
• 6th graders • 6th Graders
• 2 boys • 2 boys
• 2 girls • 2 girls
• 4 Caucasian/White • 1 Caucasian/White
• 2 Hispanic
• 1 Afro-American
• Opting for less subjects but more rich data, the
method of collecting information was though
• No real names are used but ages and some
details are retained.
• The interviews are recorded through video
• Questions are pre-set and do not change from
interview to interview to maintain some level of
• Good Afternoon terms? having one idea, but then a few
• Well let’s get started. • What about your parents? Do they months later adopting a different
• What is your name? have any political preference? one on the same issue?
• How Old are you? • Do they belong to any particular • Describe that please.
• And what Grade are you in? political party? • Why did that happen?
• How do you feel about living in • How important are political • Was there anyone or anything that
Texas? questions to your parents? may have influenced that change?
• Do you live with both of your • (which ones?) • How do you feel when you are
Parents? • Are there any political or social engaged in political activities?
• Do you live with both of your issues that you feel strongly about? • What do you parents think of your
parents? (explain and expand upon) (Yes or No) own political ideas?
• Did your Father go to College? • Can you name the top 2 please? • Are there any important
What would you like to see done differences?
• What does he do for a living, I about them? • Do you think that your political
mean, where does he work? • Have you ever done anything ideas will stay the same or do you
• And your mother, did she also go to political, like go to a rally or joined think they will definitely change?
College? any groups or contacted politicians? • How might they change?
• Is she working outside your home • (If so) How did you get involved? • What might cause that change?
as well? • (If none) Do you think that politics •
• Do you have any brothers or sisters? Is this likely?
is important to you right now or do •
How many? Which ones are older you see politics as not as important
and which are younger? in your life? • On a seven point scale tell me how
• How do you get your information to important your political ideas are to
• Do you have any Political make a decision? you and your life?
Preference? Like do you think you • How important is it for you to work • 1=nothing
belong to a political party or do you out these ideas? • 7=extremely important
consider yourself liberal or • Was there ever a time that you
conservative or moderate? found your political beliefs
• How familiar are you with these changing, When you found yourself
• Do you have any Political Preference? Like do you think you
belong to a political party or do you consider yourself
liberal or conservative or moderate?
What about your parents? Do they have any political
How important are political questions to your parents?
Using the questions shown on the • Are there any political or social issues that you feel strongly
previous slide, certain questions were about
pre-selected to be “weighted” • Which issues are important to your parents?
questions. • Do you think that politics is important to you right now or
do you see politics as not as important in your life?
Those questions had responses that • How do you get your information to make a decision?
would indicate the level of political • Have you ever been politically involved and how did you
achievement of the student. become involved?
• Was there ever a time that you found your political beliefs
changing and if so, how?
The responses were then judged as • Who or what influenced you to do that?
indicating a particular status and then • How do you feel when you are engaged in political
they were averaged to a percentage. activities?
Students having a higher degree of • What do you parents think of your own political ideas?
Foreclosure would by percentage have • Are there any important differences?
answered more questions with a • Will your beliefs change? And How so? What might cause
foreclosed answer. the change?
• How important is politics in you life?
Data Collection Tool
Name: Achieved Foreclosed Moratorium Diffused
Percent of total:
Sample Question: How do you get your information to make a decision?
Achievement: I look it up myself in a news paper/online etc. and make up
my own mind about it.
Foreclosure: My parents tell me about it.
Moratorium: I look for it online but I do not really make any final decisions
Diffusion: I do not/ My friends tell me.
• While looking at a group of children
who are at the early part of the
Identity stage: specifically 6th graders
from Holy Family and Harrison Lane
Elementary School: the children from
the public school will demonstrate a
significantly higher rate of Identity
achievement over those children at
• Those of Higher socio-economic
status will be less diffused than those
of lower socio-economic families.
• Those whose parents are divorced
will show less achievement, less
moratorium, less foreclosure and
much more diffusion.
Results: Private School
Results: Public School
A half of the number of students that I
interviewed were only living with one
parent . I wondered if this might affect
the results at all so it was included as a
• My Hypothesis was incorrect
• Most of the Public school children were diffused at higher
levels while the children in the private school were both
diffused and foreclosed at about the same level.
• Private school children were much more foreclosed than
the public school children.
• My minor hypothesis was correct: those with divorced
parents were MUCH more diffused indicating a pretty
strong positive correlation to divorce and diffusion.
• My other minor hypothesis was correct as it did show that
those of lower socio-economic status did tend to be more
diffuse as well.
Limitations and Problems
• Cannot generalize: sample
was too small however
enlightening it was.
• Limited interview: only
• Not enough racial diversity
• Same with the socio-
economic factor, too little
• Public school interviews
were conducted in a loud
-Children at such a young age can hardly be expected to be achieved in any
-It is in most cases that any kind of achievement occurs so early on.
-Lack of political knowledge indicated diffusion.
-According to numerous studies, those who are foreclosed tend to have
conventional morality while those who are achieved will usually show
more post-conventional moral thought.
-Interesting Side note: Erikson points out that those people living in
totalitarian governments or households are much more likely to be
foreclosed or diffused because of the environment.
• Dr. Amy Fisher-Smith for helping me with my
• Mrs. Khirallah- For putting up with my delays.