How do I create my personal identity

Identity and self: personality and social psychological aspects of identity development.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2 What is identity?

3 Identity formation

4 Self, self-concept and self-discrepancy

5 Identity as a project

6 The concept of narrative identity

7 Individuality and Identity Crisis

8 Conclusion

9 Bibliography

1 Introduction

In this term paper I would like to deal in depth with the topic of “Identity and Self”. In the summer semester of 2004 I was interested in a lecture with this title, which was given in the seminar on social psychology. I would like to approach the topic from two sides, from the personality psychological (or individual psychological) as well as from the social psychological, which are of great importance in the complex development of identity and should be considered in their interaction for a correct understanding.

The question arises as to which external factors influence the development of identity. To what extent does my social environment determine who I am? How do I see myself? What role do the social environment and the individual play in the development of identity? What requirements are placed on the individual and how do problems in the development of identity affect the individual? In this context, I would like to address terms such as “self and external identification”, “social and personal identity” and “self and self-concept”.

On the one hand, I will deal with models of identity development from the perspective of personality psychology, such as Erikson's phase model. On the other hand, I will also introduce concepts from social psychology, such as the narrative construction of identity and identity as a project, as described by the psychologist Wolfgang Kraus in his book "The Narrated Self: The Narrative Construction of Identity in Late Modernism" to be introduced.

To conclude, I would like to deal with the problems that are connected with one's own identity and with the question of why more and more people are falling into a self-crisis today and how individualization processes of “postmodern society” contribute to this. How high is the social pressure? The pressure to strive for a certain identity and to reject certain characteristics of your identity? So basically not being who you are, but who you have to be.

And that you have to be someone who stands out from others. I will try to clarify in the further course whether identity today is only defined by performance and whether the self-crisis can be traced back to this assumption.

2 What is identity?

This question cannot be answered briefly and unequivocally, because the scientists too have diverse approaches to this topic and when reading the different literature there was often confusion about the different uses of terms. Generally referred to tuner Identity as a term used in psychology and pedagogy, which describes the phenomena that are referred to in everyday life as “self-awareness” or “self-awareness” of individuals and groups.[1] According to Oerter and Montada the term refers in a general sense to the unique combination of personal, distinctive data of the individual such as name, age, gender and occupation. The individual is characterized by identity and can be distinguished from other people.[2]

Identity in the psychological sense is the question of the conditions of possibility for a life history and cross-situation equality in the perception of one's own person and for an inner unity despite external changes.[3] This problem of equality in diversity dominates existing theories of identity such as that of Erikson which I will go into in more detail.

There are many terms in the literature that contain the word “identity”. In my opinion, a brief explanation of the terminology is important. On the one hand, the literature speaks of “social” or “public” identity. Frey and Hauser declare that this is the identity that is assigned to the individual in a social system. It is a combination of characteristics and role expectations that make the individual identifiable. In this case, identity is an externally ascribed complex of characteristics.[4]

There are other terms for the identity of groups such as “cultural identity”, “ethnic identity”, “national identity” or “group identity”. The characteristics for this identity are always defined from the outside perspective. You identify yourself and others through group affiliations, e.g. "the Germans" or "the HSV fans" or "we students". But that doesn't say much about the identity of the member of a group, because the member is not identical to the group.[5] So it makes a significant difference whether we speak of an identity that we ascribe to a person with regard to their social context, or of the identity that this person ascribes to himself.

Personality psychology is primarily concerned with the case in which a person identifies himself. Identity is understood as a self-reflective process of an individual. It appears in the literature under “personal”, “personal”, “individual” or “subjective identity”, but always means the same thing, namely that a person builds his identity by processing his knowledge and experiences about himself. She identifies herself from the inner perspective. Frey and Hauser draw attention to the fact that inside and outside perspective are related. Identity as a self-experience is dependent on the localizations made by the outside world.[6].

People can make statements about themselves (“That's how I am”). This is one possible use for the term “identity”. It is a term used for statements that a person makes about themselves. The other use has already been described when someone from the outside establishes another person's identity (his / her social identity). This use of the term, however, tends to make assignments to status, class, role etc. and does not represent the identity of the individual, his “personal identity” or “I identity”.

This form of the concept of identity (social identity) plays a role in sociology and social psychology. One also speaks of "external identification" as opposed to "self-identification"[7]. Separating these two perspectives, although closely related, makes it easier to work out the different psychological approaches.

According to Frey and Hauser Identity is a necessary prerequisite for the individual's ability to act in society, since interaction relationships are only possible if the other “knows” who I am. To do this, I have to make it clear to the other person who I am and I can only do that if I “know” who I am, which in turn depends on what I have learned about myself so far and how I combine these experiences into a picture of myself.[8] Also for Oerter and Montada Your own understanding of identity, i.e. self-awareness and the sense of what you are or want to be, play an important role in development in adolescence.[9] So how does personal identity develop or how does the individual manage to establish a stable self-image? To this end, the next chapter should provide a brief insight into the common theories of identity development.

3 Identity formation

Frey and Hauser write that the processing of external, internal, current and stored experience is an achievement of consciousness.[10] Our consciousness therefore has to cope with high demands in the formation of our identity. It has to bring the experiences from the environment and the experiences about oneself into harmony, because the human being is both a social and a personal being. The human being is assigned a special position as a being that can make itself the object of its processes of consciousness.

According to Oerter and Montada There are two basic endeavors of the individual that drive identity development. This is on the one hand the effort to recognize oneself and on the other hand the effort to shape oneself, to work on oneself and to shape oneself.[11] In the Psychoanalysis the person's ability to establish their identity was seen as a synthesis, the ability to integrate different experiences. In doing so, new experiences must be incorporated into the stock of old experiences without losing the feeling of personal continuity and consistency. Relationships and structures must be established between these experiences.[12]

Freud structures the individual in the sub-areas “I”, “About I” and “It”. The “I” has the task of harmonizing the moral and standardized requirements of the “super-ego” with the instinctuality and needs of the “id”. The problem of the psychoanalytic variant of personal identity is loud Frey and Hauser the idea that 1. personal identity as a synthesis is a relatively stable state, 2. the creation of identity is a developmental task that should be achieved at the beginning of adulthood, 3. gaining or losing, having or not having an identity is a criterion for “normal” or “pathological”.[13]

E.H. Erikson (1902-1994) has the Phase model of identity development set up, which is often used in pedagogy and which, based on Freud's phases of libido development, develops a series of stages of “psychosocial modalities” and assigns specific identity problems and identity tasks to these stages. He, too, sees identity linked to the perception of one's own equality and continuity in time and the associated perception that outsiders also recognize this equality and continuity.[14]

According to his phase model, in infancy, for example, it is about the formation of a "basic trust", a self-confidence that is hopefully related to the world in contrast to the threatening basic distrust. He differentiates between eight main stages during the life cycle, which contain characteristic conflicts or crises. He therefore assumes that the process of personality development extends over the entire life span.

An ego identity that brings together experiences and balances out partial identities becomes loud Erikson Tried and developed for the first time in the “psychosocial moratorium” of adolescence, ie in the “postponable extension of the intermediate stage between adolescence and adulthood”.[15] Understood by a psychosocial moratorium Erikson thus a postponement of adult commitments or ties. This is a period characterized by selective indulgence on the part of society and provocative playfulness on the part of young people.[16]

If the synthesis of past, current and future-related partial identities does not succeed in this time of crisis and transition, there is a threat of “identity diffusion” in the form of all kinds of states of flight and disintegration, such as drug abuse.[17]

According to Erikson Unresolved typical stage crises lead to permanent personality disorders. The complexity of this process becomes clear on the basis of the “crisis of adolescence” in which young people have to find their identity.


[1] see Stimmer, Franz; "Lexicon of Social Pedagogy and Social Work"; Munich, Vienna: R. Oldenbourg Verlag 2000, p.321

[2] see Oerter, Rolf and Leo Montada (eds.); "Developmental Psychology"; Weinheim, Basel, Berlin: Beltz Verlage 2002, pp. 290-291

[3] see Otto, Hans-Uwe and HansThiersch (eds.); “Handbook of Social Work / Social Pedagogy”; Neuwied, Kriftel: Luchterhand 2001, p. 807

[4] see Frey, Hans-Peter and Karl Haußer (eds.); "Identity"; Stuttgart: Enke 1987, p.3

[5] see ibid. page 4

[6] see ibid. page 4

[7] see ibid. p.6

[8] see ibid. p.6

[9] see Oerter, Rolf and Leo Montada (eds.); "Developmental Psychology"; Weinheim, Basel, Berlin: Beltz Verlage 2002, p. 291

[10] see Frey, Hans-Peter and Karl Haußer (eds.); "Identity"; Stuttgart: Enke 1987, p.4

[11] see Oerter, Rolf and Leo Montada (eds.); "Developmental Psychology"; Weinheim, Basel, Berlin: Beltz Verlage 2002, p.292

[12] see Frey, Hans-Peter and Karl Haußer (eds.); "Identity"; Stuttgart: Enke 1987 p.7

[13] see ibid. p.7

[14] see Stimmer, Franz; “Lexicon of Social Pedagogy and Social Work”; Munich, Vienna: R. Oldenbourg Verlag 2000, p.321

[15] see ibid. p. 322, p. 539

[16] see Oerter, Rolf and Leo Montada (eds.); "Developmental Psychology"; Weinheim, Basel, Berlin: Beltz Verlage 2002, p.267

[17] see Stimmer, Franz; “Lexicon of Social Pedagogy and Social Work”; Munich, Vienna: R.Oldenbourg Verlag 200, p.322

End of the reading sample from 28 pages