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A Process-Content Approach to Adolescent Identity Formation: Examining Longitudinal Associations Between Identity Styles and Goal Pursuits


  • The contribution of the first three authors was supported by the Fund for Scientific Research Flanders (FWO).

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Bart Duriez, Department of Psychology, Tiensestraat 102, 3000 Leuven, Belgium. Email:


Research on identity focuses on the processes involved (e.g., identity style) or its content (e.g., goals and values), but limited research has addressed both issues simultaneously. The present study investigates cross-lagged relations between identity styles (i.e., informational, normative, and diffuse-avoidant) and goals (i.e., intrinsic vs. extrinsic and openness to change vs. conservation) in a 3-wave adolescent sample (N = 806). Results support a reciprocal model, with process and content influencing each other. As for process effects, the informational and diffuse-avoidant style predicted decreases in conservation goals, and the normative style predicted increases in conservation and extrinsic goals. As for content effects, conservation goals increased the normative style, and extrinsic goals decreased the informational and increased the diffuse-avoidant style.