Identity Style and Coping Strategies


Reprint requests should be sent to Michael D. Berzonsky, Department of Psychology, State University of New York at Cortland, Cortland, NY 13045.


ABSTRACT This Study examined the relationship between identity style and strategies used to cope with stressors that potentially threaten one's sense of identity. Identity style refers to differences in the way individuals construct and revise or maintain their sense of identity. An informational style involves actively seeking out, evaluating, and utilizing self-relevant information. A normative style highlights the expectations and standards of significant others. A diffuse/avoidant style is characterized by procrastination and situation-specific reactions. Late-adolescent college subjects were administered measures of identity style, ways of coping with academic stressors, and test anxiety. Within this self-as-student context, subjects with diffuse and normative identity styles employed avoidant-oriented coping strategies (wishful thinking, distancing, and tension reduction). An informational style was associated with deliberate, problem-focused coping. Findings are discussed in terms of a process model of identity development.