The role of specialized competencies in identity formation

Document Type



Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor's Name

William M. Kurtines

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Wendy Silverman

Third Advisor's Name

Jonathan Tubman

Date of Defense



This thesis investigated the role played by the exploration and identification of one's specialized competencies (i.e., interests, talents, and competencies) in the process of identity formation. The participants consisted of 155 (114 females and 41 males) undergraduate, psychology students. Each student was administered two measures of identity status (Identity Domain Scale and Ego Objective Measure of Identity Status-2) in addition to a measure of interest and competency (Self-Directed Search:SDS), and a measure of personal expressiveness (Personally Expressive Activities Questionnaire). As hypothesized, the results indicated that students who had committed to an identity (Foreclosed and Achieved) had a clearer or more differentiated sense of their specialized competencies as measured by the SDS. In addition, students who were classified as Identity achieved often chose activities on the SDS that were personally expressive or truly a part of their identity. Implications for interventions in identity formation are discussed.




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