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We elaborated an integrated theoretical model of identity within Nurmi's general framework of adolescent life-planning by combining concepts of Tazelaar's mental incongruity theory and Marcia's identity model. Mental incongruity is what people experience when there is a discrepancy between how they think a situation should be (the standard) and how they experience the actual situation or their own behavior (the cognition). The mental incongruity theory is domain specific which connects well with Marcia's domain specific identity model. We studied the influence of adolescents' standards - how they would like their educational status to be or how they would like their social relations to be - and mental incongruity on the development of identity in the respective domains. By means of Lisrel, we tested hypotheses on a sample of 1230 Dutch adolescents, between the ages of 15 to 24. As expected, a higher standard led to more exploration and commitment and thus to a more developed identity, but also to more mental incongruity. More mental incongruity led in its turn to a less developed identity. Thus, a higher standard directly led to a more mature identity, but caused indirectly - via mental incongruity - a less mature identity. Furthermore, a low relational mental incongruity induced a low educational mental incongruity, and likewise a high relational identity somewhat increased the educational identity. Finally, the expected crisscross effects of the standard in one domain decreasing the mental incongruity in the other domain were found.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2224/sbp.1996.24.4.393

Publication date: January 1, 1996

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