When we hear the word ‘identity’, our reflex may be to grab our wallet. In the age of identity theft, we certainly need to protect our credit card information from thieves. Imagine though, that we gathered and arranged various bits of personal data on a person, data such as his/her Social Security and driver’s license numbers, with the sole intention of creating a psychological profile of the person. We still would not solve the puzzle of identity. Nor would such a profile very satisfying. Why?

Well, in psychology, ‘identity’ refers to our ability to answer the “Who am I?” question. For Erik Erikson, the process of answering this question occurs in adolescence. And one the most common areas of concern for teens is their occupational identity. Okay...but what if a person is 40-something and is still searching for the perfect career? Is that typical? Yes, actually. In our next post, we will learn why.

About the Author

Kristine Anthis, Ph.D.

Kristine Anthis, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at Southern Connecticut State University. She is the author of Lifespan Development, Sage Publications.

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