Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development

2011 Edition
| Editors: Sam Goldstein, Jack A. Naglieri

Identity Diffusion

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-79061-9_1441



Phase or status of individual who has not resolved identity issues.


This is a phase or status defined by James Marcia describing the avoidance, apathy and overwhelm often associated with identity development. The adolescent is avoiding or lacks the volition to explore alternatives of self in the world. Example of high school senior experiencing identity diffusion “I haven’t really thought much about what I want to do when I get out high school.”

Relevance to Childhood Development

This is part of the identity development process that is characterized as avoiding uncomfortable feelings and exploration in the world. The result retards identity development and psychological adjustment.


  1. 1.
    Erikson, E. H. (1968). Identity: Youth and crisis. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Marcia, J. E. (1966). Development and validation of ego identity status. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 3, 551–558.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Counselor EducationSt. Mary’s UniversitySan AntonioUSA