Appunti di PsicologiaŠ

Psychology Notes - Cultural Association for Psychology Research

Copyright 1995-1996-1997-1998-1999 by Dr. Salvatore Manai

Adolescent Identity, and an Elaboration on a Test of Identity

by Miguel Molla
(English version by Raeleen Mautner)

The Test of Identity for adolescents and youth, is an inventory composed of 110 items. This test has been elaborated with the intention of measuring a series of alternatives attitudes to fundamental self aspects that build the feeling of ego identity.

One of the first approximations to the problems of youth, is to figure out how to handle one's personal development: to reach a sense of unity and coherence within oneself, to learn the fundamental definitions of one's life, and the key aspects of one's relationship with reality.

This attainment of personal development, called "identity", will allow the individual to project him/herself to a personal and social level.

What is identity? How does it come about in human development?

The theory of Erik Erikson describes the psychological development of identity, which has its critical moment during adolescence, as a stage in which one must define aspects of great importance to our future lives. Such development is characterized by one's own personal individuality, knowing oneself and being that self.

Adolescence verifies this growth, assuming, genuinely, consciously, and with one's own will, an orientation that gives meaning to one's life, with which one translates an intelligence of the world, and of one's internal and external reality, then communicates this world with the creativity of his/her own vision to become uniquely oneself, of value to oneself and to others.

This growth must continue its transformation: to grow, one must overcome the daily problems associated with change, stages of crisis which show themselves in various degrees of disorganization e confusion. One expresses this by asking frequently :"Who am I?"

The characteristics of the identity of youth are incommensurable, but our Identity Inventory is useful in facilitating a methodology of classification of key characteristics described by Erikson.

The test of Identity allows one to establish an individual psychological profile, a type of x-ray of one evolution process, helping to reach an experimental confirmation of this theory, comparing empirical proof with theoretical convictions.

The test has been devised to condense, in a questionnaire, the phrases regarding the essential characteristics that define every stage of the Epigenetic Cycle.

To validate the test, we use the same sample of adolescents, and have them compile, other than the Test of Identity, also the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), a test which taps into multiple aspects of personality, and in this sense, measures or validates the same variables of our test.

Our data was statistically analyzed, uncovering correlations between both tests, and looking for the existence of significant differences between the results. This permitted us to establish, on one hand, the validity and the reliability of our test, and on the other hand, to explain the significant differences. The results gave us adequate validity and reliability of the test of Identity. The reliability coefficient of .93 was considerably high.

The theoretical correspondence regarding content validity, derived from 264 calculated correlations, tells us that only 1.6% of these correlations showed significant differences, implicating a refusal of the null hypothesis.

The Test examines the following aspects:

5.Temporal Perspective
6.Self Certainty
7.Role Experimentation
9.Sexual Polarization
10.Leader and Followership
11.Ideological Commitment

The average total score is the value of Identity

These results appear as objective indicators of the development of youth, corresponding to different stages: those of the infantile past, of the present, and projection of the future adult.

The tasks of infantile development are:

1. Trust
2. Autonomy
3. Initiative
4. Industry

The tasks caracteristic of adolescence are:

5. Temporal Perspective
6. Self-Certainty
7. Role Experimentation
8. Apprenticeship

Other tasks also caracteristic of adolescence but projects to the adult stage are:

9. Sexual Polarization
10. Leadership and Followership
11. Ideological Commitment


"Identity" mainly means adequacy and strength of the self, the Ego; a balance, maturity, personal integrity, rationality and dependability; and adequate level of personal satisfaction in social adaptability and responsibility; spontaneous statement and self-confidence (This correlates negatively with Scales 6,7,0,2,and 8 of the MMPI, and positively with the "Strength of Ego", Scale under experimentation).

"Trust", refers mainly to adequate faith in one self and in others; maturity in the way one faces life, faith and personal integrity, sociability, spontaneity, flexibility, and a feeling of satisfaction with one's self. (This correlates negatively with Scales 6,7,8,2,0 and 4 of the MMPI, and positively with the Strength of "I" scale).

"Autonomy" mainly refers to the strength of Ego, and faith in one's capacity to interact with one's environment, a sense of organization in one's life, as something personal, for which one is responsible, balance and integrity; a feeling of adequacy, productivity, and sociability. (This correlates negatively with Scales 7,6,0,8,5, and 2 of the MMPI, and positively with the Scale "Strength of Ego").

"Initiative", mainly refers to a spontaneity of statement and self assurance; enthusiasm and a consciousness of one's own worth; originality in problem-solving; a capacity to decide quickly, a flexibility in thought and action, activity and great initiative, sociability and reliability in personal relationships (This correlates negatively with the Scales 0,6,7,2, and 8 of the MMPI, and positively with the Scale "Strength of Ego".

"Industry", mainly refers to a sense of organization, responsibility and rectitude in work, the capacity to make decisions rapidly and find solutions to problems, an adequate level of personal satisfaction, reliability and personal integrity, adaptability to the mechanisms of social conventionalities. (This correlates negatively with Scales 0,6,7,2,and 8 of the MMPI, and positively with the Scale "Strength of Ego").

"Temporal Perspective" refers mainly to a good orientation towards time and space, an assimilation of experiences that profit from an adequate level of interpersonal exchange and sensitivity (emotional experience); rapidity of reaction and thought; sociableness, concentration; ease in activity, sureness of the environment. (This correlates negatively with the Scales 6,0,2,and 4 of the MMPI, and positively with the Scale "Strength of I").

"Self-Certainty", for the most part means the feeling of being able to depend on oneself, a sense of adequacy and organization in one's personal life; satisfaction and confidence in self-statement; sociableness and adequate personal trust; strength of ego. (This correlates negatively with scales 7,0,6,4, and 2 of the MMPI and positively correlates with the scale "Strength of Ego ).

"Role Experimentation", mainly means emphasis on action; confronting diverse situations, competence, research resulting from the force of productivity, effervescence and colorful statement of oneself; a sense of direction in one's own life, or a clarification of one's own intentions; and adequate exercise of goal anticipation; maturity in one's style of confronting life, energy and enthusiasm , and in a certain way, absence of conventionalism. (This correlates negatively with the Scales 0,8,7,6,2, and 4 of the MMPI and positively with the "Strength of Ego" Scale.

"Apprenticeship" mainly means interest in the environment and in contact with the world, having a strategy of vital contact, a favorable attitude towards work and knowledge, conventional adaptation to the requirements of the environment, restlessness, personal satisfaction, personal maturity, responsibility and rectitude in work and sociability (This correlates negatively with scales 8,2,6,7, and 0 of the MMPI, and positively with the scale "Strength of Ego".

"Sexual Polarization": a strong Ego in adolescence enables one to endure the crises one must confront to reach a final equilibrium and integration of experiences, which , at times, are opposing and contradictory. Sexual polarization mainly means personal adaptation; an adequate and favorable attitude towards ones own sex role; adequate faith in oneself; energy, impulsivity, an inclination to pursue interests appropriate to one's sex. (Correlates negatively with scales 7,2, and 5 of the MMPI, and positively with the scale "Strength of Ego")

"Leadership and Followership" mainly means adequacy in interpersonal relationships, and adaptation to groups which the individual finds meaningful; confidence in the environment and in significant others; adequate exercise and sharing of leadership roles; a sense of self-worth; maturity,responsibility; the tendency to accept and recognize authority figures; sociability. (This correlates negatively with the scales 7,0,6, and 8 of the MMPI, and positively with the scale "Strength of Ego".

"Ideological Commitment" refers mainly to the individual's level of participation in valuable relationships in one's own environment; stability, integrity, personal trust, maturity, and adaptability to social requirements. (This correlates negatively with scales 2,6,4,and 8 of the MMPI, and positively with the scale "Strength of I").


I think that the Ego of the adolescent proves a sort of "engineering of the personality", and that adolescence provides a special explanation of defensive strategies that manifest themselves in a form that is creative, constructive and ingenious in an individual sense (Yoico), and that maneuver in a social context. The adolescent establishes diverse characterizations of oneself, testing with rolls, various social postures, self-images that are not totally internally derived, but neither are they a compromise. This serves to make one agile in the use of remediation, to remain the same notwithstanding changes, to find oneself in finding a definition of one self (this is what Erikson called the search for identity), that is very different from the postures and defensive games mentioned earlier.

The adolescent uses defensive styles, felt as a construction of the internal Gestalt (an engineering of the Ego), among elements that combine and balance each other out, while the identity conforms with what changes and molds the "I" against the contrasts of adolescence, overcoming confusion.

As Erikson points out, three dimensions exist of which one can speak of the feeling of identity: as a conscious feeling, as a way of behaving (observable to others), and lastly, also as an internal state, verifiable only by special examination.

We believe that the problems of adolescence (which one can verify at any level), cannot be produced with a structure such as in base psychiatric terms, but as a coming together of characteristic defensive modalities, forming an extension of Liberman's concept (1976), we can call it "style of communication".

By means of the test of Identity, we can access at the first level (a conscious feeling),and extend this access by partial interpretation into the other two levels, to verify a posteriori by an accurate anamnestic.

Using this method, one can also easily diagnose the characteristics of adolescents in group form, as well as precociously prevent various problems and risks, in such a way that "the game is more creative, health is more satisfying, sexuality is more free, and work is more meaningful".


BERTALANFFY, Ludwig Von, "Teoria Genral de Sistemas", Mexico, Fondo de Cultura Economica.
BLEGER, Jose y otros, "La Identidad en el Adolescente", Buenos Aires, Editorial Paidos.
COLES Robert, "Erik Erikson, la evolucion en su Obra", Mexico, Fondo de Cultura Economica.
ERIKSON Erik, "Infancia y Sociedad", (1950) Buenos Aires,Editorial Paidos. - - "Identidad, Juventud y Crisis" (1968), Buenos Aires, Editorial Paidos. - - "La Adultez",(1978), Mexico, Fondo de Cultura Economica
FOULKES, S.J. y ANTHONY, E.J., "Psicoterapia psicoanalitica de Grupo" Buenos Aires, Editorial Paidos.
HODGSON J.W. & FISCHER, J.L. (1979).Sex differences in identity and intimacy development in college youth.Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 8,37-49.
JOSSELSON, R. (1973). Psychodynamic aspects of identity formation in college women.Journal of Youth and Adolescence,2, 2-52.
LA VOIE, J.C. (1976). Ego identity formation in middle adolescence.Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 5, 371-385.
LIBERMAN David "Lenguaje y Tecnica Psicoanalitica", Buenos Aires, Editorial Kargieman
MASTERSON, J. F. "Tratamiento del Adolescente Fronterizo", Buenos Aires, Editorial Paidos.
MARCIA J. E. (1976). Identity six years after: A follow-up study.Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 5, 145-160.
McCLAIN, E.W. (1975). An Eriksonian cross-cultural study of adolescent development. Adolescence, 10, 527-541.
MOLLA Miguel,(1978). "La Identidad del Adolescente.Estudio preliminar de una Prueba de la Identidad". Tesis Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru.
MOLLA Miguel,(1989). "La Identidad en jovenes de clase media y sus factores condicionantes".Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia.
OCHSE,R. (1983). An empirical test of Eriksons theory of personality development. Unpublished masters thesis, University of South Africa, Pretoria.
OCHSE,R. & PLUG, C.(1986). Cross-Cultural Investigation of the Validity of Eriksons Theory of personality development.University of South Africa, Pretoria. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol.50, No. 6, 1240-1252.
ORLOFSKY, J.L. (1978). The Relationship between intimacy status and antecedente personality components. Adolescence, 13,419-440.
PICHON RIVIERE, Enrique,"Del Psicoanalisis a la Psicologia Social" Buenos Aires,Editorial Galerna.
ROSENTHAL,D.R.,GURNEY, R.M. & MOORE, S.M.(1981). From trust to intimacy: A new inventory for examining Eriksons stages of psycho-social development. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 10,525-536.
SCHENKEL, S. (1975). Relantions among identity status, field independence, and traditional feminity.Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 4,73-82.
WHITBOURNE, S.K.,JELSMA,B.M. & WATERMAN ,A.S. (1982). An Eriksonian measure of personality development in college students: A reexamination of Constantinoplesb data and partial replication. Developmental Psychology, 12, 369-371.

 Identity Test online Order:
Note: Researchers and psychologists who wish, may request the administration of the test online. You have to send a payment order (payment by bank transfer or a transfer agent), and obtain a password, and may install the software for the use of Test of identity in the Spanish version, in Italian, or the English version. This can make for clinical use or research. Contact the author directly.