Identity Styles, Positive Youth Development, and Civic Engagement in Adolescence
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Identity formation is a core developmental task of adolescence. Adolescents can rely on different social-cognitive styles to seek, process, and encode self-relevant information: information-oriented, normative, and diffuse-avoidant identity styles. The reliance on different styles might impact adolescents’ adjustment and their active involvement in the society. The purpose of this study was to examine whether adolescents with different identity styles report differences in positive youth development (analyzed with the Five Cs—Competence, Confidence, Character, Connection, and Caring—model) and in various forms of civic engagement (i.e., involvement in school self-government activities, volunteering activities, youth political organizations, and youth non-political organizations). The participants were 1,633 (54.1 % female) 14–19 years old adolescents (M age = 16.56, SD age = 1.22). The findings indicated that adolescents with different identity styles differed significantly on all the Five Cs and on two (i.e., involvement in volunteering activities and in youth non-political organizations) forms of civic engagement. Briefly, adolescents with an information-oriented style reported high levels of both the Five Cs and civic engagement; participants with a normative style reported moderate to high scores on the Five Cs but low rates of civic engagement; diffuse-avoidant respondents scored low both on the Five Cs and on civic engagement. These findings suggest that the information-oriented style, contrary to the diffuse-avoidant one, has beneficial effects for both the individual and the community, while the normative style has quite beneficial effects for the individual but not for his/her community. Concluding, adolescents with different identity styles display meaningful differences in positive youth development and in rates of civic engagement.
KeywordsIdentity styles Positive youth development Five Cs Civic engagement Gender
This research was funded by the European Social Fund under the Global Grant measure, VP1-3.1-ŠMM-07-K-02-008.
E.C. conceived of the current study, performed the statistical analyses, and wrote the manuscript; R.E. participated in the data preparation and in the drafting of the article; R.Z. is the principal investigator of the POSIDEV project from which data for the current study were drawn and she participated in the interpretation of the results. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
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