Describe the similarities and differences in the way identity is conceptualised by the psychosocial theory of identity and social identity theory.

The topic of identity is very popular in contemporary society, but because it is used in a range of different contexts it has become frequently unclear what it is. However, there are many varied psychological theories that try to define identity and the processes which help to produce it. One theorist in particular, Kroger (1989/19993 conceptualises identity by arguing that identity represents the balance between self and other, or in other words, the development of identity involves both personal and social factors. This essay will look at other such theorists as Kroger, their theories of identity and describe some similarities and differences in the way identity is conceptualised by them.

The first theory, proposed by psychoanalyst Erik Erikson, describes identity as being psychosocial which recognizes the influence of both personal and social factors on identity development.

The second theory was proposed by Henri Tajfel and was coined social identity theory, a theory of the social processes by which people come to identify with particular groups and separate themselves from others.

Through the use of clinical   and naturalistic observations as well as analyses of the biographies of famous men, Erikson viewed identity not as being fixed once achieved but as a developmental process involving a progressive resolution of conflicts or normative crises between individual needs and social demands and between positive and negative developmental possibilities. From this notion, he identified eight stages of identity development which take place throughout the human life span starting with the infant’s developing sense of time and ending with old age. Of these eight stages, Erikson found the fifth; adolescence, to be the most significant in the development of identity, because it is a period in a young persons...