Publication

Micro-level Mechanisms of Identity Development: The Role of Emotional Experiences in Commitment Development

van der Gaag, M., Albers, C. & Kunnen, S., Nov-2017, In : Developmental Psychology. 53, 11, p. 2205-2217 13 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Based on Marcia's theory, many researchers consider exploration and commitment as the main processes in identity development. Although some identity theorists have hypothesized that emotional experience may also be an important part of the mechanisms of identity development, empirical research to investigate this claim has been lagging behind. In this study, we shed light on the role of emotional experiences in micro-level commitment dynamics, and compare this to the role of exploration. We take a within-individual approach, and particularly focus on educational commitment. We collected weekly measurements among 103 first year university students over several months, resulting in 22 to 30 measurements for each individual. Every week, the students reported an important experience and accompanying positive and negative emotions, their level of educational exploration and commitment. We generated linear growth models for each individual separately, using Dynamic Linear Modeling. These individual models generate regression weights that indicate how strong the impact is of exploration, positive and negative emotional experiences on changes in micro-level commitment for each individual. Our main finding is that both positive and negative emotional experiences are indeed related to changes in educational commitment. Positive experiences, but surprisingly, also negative experiences, are related to increases in educational commitment for the majority of individuals. Moreover, for the large majority of individuals, the impact of emotional experiences is larger than the impact of exploration. Therefore, we conclude that it is highly likely that emotional experiences are an essential part of the micro-level mechanisms of identity development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2205-2217
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Volume53
Issue number11
Early online date2017
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2017

    Keywords

  • identity development, emotional experiences, exploration, commitment, micro level, EXPLORATION, VALIDATION, DYNAMICS, ADOLESCENCE, ADULTHOOD, FRIENDS, MODELS
Related Prizes
  1. Paul van Geert paper prize

    Mandy Gaag, van der (Recipient), 16-May-2018

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