Throughout science, the accuracy of our understanding rests fundamentally upon the quality of the data we collect. The limits of the identity-interview approach should be recognized before embarking on a study; they are well summarized by Bourne (1978b, pp. 375–382). He correctly points out that probably no instrument can incorporate all components of Erikson’s broad concept of identity, but concludes that the identity interviews strike an optimal balance between the opposing demands of interpretive depth versus empirical rigor and generalizability.
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