The Incremental Validity of Identity Distress in Predicting Agentic Personality


Although relationships between identity status and agentic personality have been found (Cote & Schwartz, 2002), it is hypothesized in this paper that identity distress better accounts for variation in agentic personality score than identity status alone. In other words, this paper tests the incremental validity of identity distress in predicting agentic personality. Marcia (1966) operationalized Erikson's (1963) concept of identity formation in terms of four identity statuses: diffusion, foreclosure, moratorium, and achievement. Each status has been empirically associated with certain personality characteristics and differing levels of adjustment. James Cote found a link between identity status and agentic personality. A person is considered to have an agentic personality when they have the ability to be thoughtful of relationships, plan ahead, have confidence in making major life changing choices, accept oneself fully and overcome adversity (Cote &Schwarz, 2002). Although identity status has been shown to be linked to agentic personality, identity status is probably not the only, nor perhaps even the best, predictor of agentic personality. Berman et al. (2004) noted that the distress that some adolescents experience during the identity formation process may result in a delay or obstruction in achieved identity in some individuals, resulting in psychological symptoms. They suggested that identity distress variables should be considered when studying identity formation and its effects on mental health. Veronica Petkus (2005) found identity status mediated the relationship between psychological symptoms and status. This study looks at positive qualities (i.e. agentic personality) to see if that too is predicted albeit negatively by identity distress. To test the hypothesis that identity distress would account for a greater percentage of the variance in agentic personality than identity status alone, a multiple regression analysis was calculated. Although identity distress significantly increased the predictive power of the regression equation the identity status still remained highly predictive. Thus, it seems that identity distress is an important contributing factor to the prediction of agentic personality but not necessarily a better one than status. The strongest predictive equation includes both.


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Thesis Completion





Berman, Steven L.


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Program



Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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