The Moral Identity: A Principle Level Identity

  • Jan E. Stets
  • Michael J. Carter


Identity Control Theory (ICT) (Burke 1991; 1996), one strand of identity theory (Stryker and Burke 2000), has been developing a program of research over the past decade that focuses on the internal dynamics within the self that influence behavior (Burke and Cast 1997; Burke and Reitzes 1991; Burke and Stets 1999; Cast and Burke 2002; Stets and Burke 1994; 1996; Stets and Tsushima 2001; Tsushima and Burke 1999). Essentially, according to ICT, when an identity is activated in a situation, a feedback loop that is already in place comes under conscious control of the perceptions involved in the identity. This perceptual control emerges primarily because an interruption has occurred in the ongoing feedback loop/identity process. The goal of an identity is to match situational inputs or perceptions (how persons perceive themselves in the situation) with the identity standard (the set of meanings attached to the self). The lack of congruence between inputs and the standard activates a change in what one is doing, the perceptions of the self in the situation, and/or the identity standards; in other words, something in the system is altered to counteract the incongruence. What the system attempts to control is the perceptual input (to match the identity standard).


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Copyright information

© Kent A. McClelland and Thomas J. Fararo 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan E. Stets
  • Michael J. Carter

There are no affiliations available

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