Outlined to Different Psychological Approaches to Identity. What Are the Strengths and Weaknesses of Each

Outline two different psychological approaches to Identity. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each?

If asked most people would have an opinion about identity and what it means to them. In this essay two different approaches are outlined which are Psychosocial theory by Eric Erickson and James Marcia and the Social Constructionist theory which as ‘diverse origins in a number disciplines and as many perspectives’ (p69 book 1).

In Psychosocial theory Erickson believed that identity was constantly evolving along a path of ‘lifelong developmental process’ (Pheonix, 2004, p53) and would come into conflict with polar opposite characteristics e.g. trust vs mistrust. He called these conflicts ‘normative crisis’ and thought most people suffered at some stage in their life. In conjunction with this he developed ‘eight developmental stages of identity’ with each stage being a building block of development on the last one; refer to (appendix 1 eight development stages of identity). Erickson viewed the adolescent stage to be crucial in forming ego identity: the opposite outcome is role diffusion. Role diffusion is ‘Failure to achieve a secure ego identity’ (phoenix, 2004, p56). The Adolescent stage gave a period of psychosocial moratorium, which introduces young people into an experimental phase while postponing major life decisions, this process continues through adolescence then identity crisis may occur.
James Marcia contributed to psychosocial by conducting Semi-structured interviews, which allows the researcher to be fluid and flexible (Phoenix 2007 p58) ‘not constraining the range of answers the respondent can give’. In addition, there are the four identity statues (refer to Appendix 2 for table) which breaks down adolescence into four chunks were young people can experience and evolve: the goal being ‘identity achievement’.

The social construction of identity has no profound origin, but a collaboration of different influences from society. To understand...