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The purpose of this study was to examine the identity formation of troubled youth (8 female and 12 male adolescents, ages 14–17) in an after-school treatment program for problem behavior. To achieve this goal we (a) garnered information from 2 identity interviews given 6 to 8 weeks apart, (b) adopted a qualitative, person-centered analytical strategy to identify identity profiles, and (c) examined the identity profiles within a relational context, focusing on the developmentally salient domains of parents and peers. Analyses revealed 5 identity profiles similar to the identity statuses previously described by Marcia and others, but with unique phenomenological differences. Across the profiles, youth differed in their responses (in terms of exploration and commitment) to the “identity challenges” they encountered during this brief period. Likewise, the relational contexts of parental and peer support also varied across profiles.


Originally published in Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research. Volume 6. Issue 2. Pages 141–167. 2006.