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date: 27 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

How does identity commonly evolve over adulthood, and in what way is identity related to other psychosocial tasks of normative adult development? This chapter uses an Eriksonian framework to address these questions. The chapter begins by reviewing the meanings of identity, according to Erikson, and proceeds to models by Marcia, Whitbourne, Berzonsky, and McAdams that suggest how different dimensions of identity develop over the adulthood years. A discussion of cross-sectional and longitudinal research on the course of identity through early, mid, and late adulthood follows, with findings pointing to considerable scope for identity development in the years beyond its initial formation in adolescence. Theory and research on identity in relation to Eriksonian tasks of Intimacy versus Isolation, Generativity versus Stagnation, and Integrity versus Despair are also reviewed, and suggestions for further research are offered. The chapter concludes with notes on how identity is both reshaped and maintained through the years of adult life.

Keywords: Identity, adulthood, intimacy, generativity, integrity

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