Two kinds of identity crisis


  • Authors are listed alphabetically We thank J Orlofskv J Marcia and A Waterman for their suggestions

Address correspondence and requests for reprints to Rov F Baumeister, Department of Psychology, Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, Ohio 44106 Expanded treatment of issues in this article can be found in R Baumeister Identity, forthcoming by Oxford University Press


In order to outline a model of identity crisis, it is necessary to distinguish two types In an identity deficit (“motivation crisis”), the individual experiences a lack of guiding commitments but struggles to establish personal goals and values In an identity conflict (“legitimation crisis”), the person has several commitments which prescribe conflicting behavioral imperatives in some situations, such that at least one commitment may have to be betrayed The literature on identity crisis is reviewed in connection with this distinction, and an attempt is made to delineate the causes, the subjective experiences, behavioral consequences and modes of resolution of each type of crisis