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Identity Versus Role Confusion

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As articulated by Erik Erikson, Identity versus Role Confusion is the fifth of eight stages of psychosocial development that take place between the ages of 12 and 19. During this stage adolescents need to develop a sense of self and personal identity. Success leads to an ability to stay true to oneself, while failure leads to role confusion and a weak sense of self. In the latter phases of this stage, the child develops a sense of sexual identity.


Erik Erikson explains eight stages through which a healthy developing human should pass from infancy to late adulthood. In each stage the person confronts, and hopefully masters, new challenges. Each stage builds on the successful completion of earlier stages. The challenges of stages not successfully completed may be expected to reappear as problems in the future.

The Identity versus Role confusion (or diffusion) stage is characterized by the adolescent question of “Who am I,” during which time they are conflicted with...

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© 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC

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Block, M. (2011). Identity Versus Role Confusion. In: Goldstein, S., Naglieri, J.A. (eds) Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development. Springer, Boston, MA.

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  • Publisher Name: Springer, Boston, MA

  • Print ISBN: 978-0-387-77579-1

  • Online ISBN: 978-0-387-79061-9

  • eBook Packages: Behavioral Science

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