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Identity Change

  • Author(s): Osborn, Shelley Noelle
  • Advisor(s): Stets, Jan E.
  • et al.
Abstract

Using identity theory, this dissertation investigates how the incongruence between reflected appraisals and identity meanings influence identity change. This study also examines the effect of status, salience, commitment, and changes in social situations on identity change. To examine how identity processes are related to identity change, three identities are examined: the gender identity, the ethnic identity, and the student identity. Data were obtained from 1,514 undergraduate students at a large western university during the 2008-09 academic school year. A longitudinal research design was used. All data were collected via the Internet to minimize class disruption, ensure easy access to the survey, and maintain privacy. A key finding is that identity meanings change in the direction of reflected appraisals. This is one way that individuals can minimize the distress created when situational meanings do not match identity standard meanings. Study limitations and areas for future research are provided.

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