The concept of identity statuses by James Marcia stems from psychoanalytic theory and stages of psychosocial development by Erik Erikson. Marcia’s identity status interview (ISI), which “assessed the depth and breadth of exploration and the extent of commitment in the areas of occupation and ideology,” allowed the researcher to classify individuals into four groups or identity statuses (Kroger & Marcia, 2011, p. 34). The first two groups were characterized by high commitment via the exploratory process (i.e., identity achievement) or by conforming to the expectations of others (i.e., foreclosure). The other two groups of individuals with a low level of commitment were either involved in the exploration of alternatives (i.e., moratoriums) or indifferent about their absence of commitment (i.e., identity diffusions) (Kroger & Marcia, 2011). Therefore, accumulated theoretical knowledge and numerous interviews conducted by James Marcia laid the foundations of the identity status construct.
Career-focused identities might be distinguished using the concept of identity statuses by James Marcia. The questionnaire used in the following research is closely related to Marcia’s classification and was based on it. The participants for the following research were sourced based on their education status. The offer to complete the questionnaire was posted on a social network website to attract the required number of participants matching the specified criteria. Thus, six individuals currently enrolled in college were presented with a survey containing questions related to various aspects of identity status. The questionnaire was created by posing questions about future career expectations. It contained a range of answer options to choose from, i.e., strongly disagree (1), disagree (2), neutral (3), agree (4), and strongly agree (5). Such an approach ensured precise responses and allowed a detailed analysis of the data obtained. The survey was administered via the Internet as an electronic document. The statements used in the research are listed below.
- I have not chosen the career I would like to pursue, and now I am working odd jobs until I find something worthwhile.
- I sometimes go to parties or social events when I am invited, but I rarely organize them myself.
- My parents strongly influence the direction of my future career, but I set my own goals and make meaningful decisions.
- I enroll in a variety of extracurricular activities, but I have not decided which one of these activities I enjoy the most.
- I might have thought about many job opportunities, but my parents have already expressed their wishes for my future career.
- I have always dreamed of a particular profession, and I think I have found my true vocation.
- I never really cared about having a career, as there are many other things in life.
- I have had a unique talent since I was a child, which I now want to develop into my job.
- I have applied for several internships in different companies but have not committed to any of them yet.
- My family owns a business which they would like me to inherit or manage in the future.
- I would like to take a gap year after graduation to travel abroad and experience opportunities beyond those offered in my hometown/ country.
- I have had several internship opportunities and have already chosen the company where I would like to come back after graduation.
The sum of the scores in each category determines a participant’s identity status. The numbers of statements belonging to each category are provided below.
Diffusion: 1, 2, 7.
Foreclosure: 3, 5, 10.
Moratorium: 4, 9, 11.
Achievement: 6, 8, 12.
The analysis of the survey results has shown that the most common identity statuses among college respondents were moratorium (3) and foreclosure (2). There were no cases of identity diffusion and one instance of identity achievement. The status of each participant was determined by adding up the sums of answers for particular questions related to one of Marcia’s identity statuses.
The article by Creed and Hennessy (2016) was chosen for review as it investigates the issues of career identity and goal orientation. The authors suggest that career identity reflects the presence or the absence of “a clear and stable picture of one’s goals, interests, and talents,” which confirms the results of the questionnaire (as cited in Creed & Hennessy, 2016, p. 4). The development of career identity “is shaped by the person’s activities and experiences and a variety of individual and contextual factors, as well as their interactions” (as cited in Creed & Hennessy, 2016, p. 6). Thus, career identity is an essential mechanism for the integration of individual perception of self with career knowledge to facilitate decision-making and goal achievement.
All in all, the diversity of the respondents’ results obtained by the survey might be explained by their individual traits, background, and relationships. The analysis of the data from the questionnaire has led to several valuable observations. Firstly, there were similar answers among the participants, which might be explained by their education status. Secondly, career goals might be strongly affected by family, as seen in the foreclosure identity cases. Finally, career identity is not a popular subject of academic research.
There were some limitations with the research design, such as the diversity of participants and limited sample size. However, the limitations did not significantly affect the quality of the research, as the results of the survey were sufficient for the proper analysis of career identity statuses. Future research in this area might focus on specific types of college students (i.e., medical or business students). Additionally, psychological and psychosocial aspects of career identity might be investigated to define the challenges that young people face on their career paths.
Creed, P. A., & Hennessy, D. A. (2016). Evaluation of a goal orientation model of vocational identity. The Career Development Quarterly, 64(4), 345–359. Web.
Kroger, J., & Marcia, J. E. (2011). The identity statuses: Origins, meanings, and interpretations. In Schwartz, S., Luyckx, K., & Vignoles, V. (Eds.), Handbook of identity theory and research (pp. 31–53). Springer.