Identity Processing and Personal Wisdom: An Information-Oriented Identity Style Predicts Self-Actualization and Self-Transcendence (Beaumont, 2009)


This study was designed to investigate whether individual differences in young adults’ identity processing styles predict aspects of personal wisdom (self-actualization and self-transcendence) and related outcomes (meaning in life and subjective happiness). Fifty-three men and 105 women completed self-report questionnaires measuring: identity commitment; identity processing styles (informational, normative, diffuse-avoidant); self-actualization (via autonomy, adaptation, and psychological functioning); self-transcendence (decreasing reliance on externals for self-definition, increasing interiority, and spirituality); meaning in life; and subjective happiness. Both identity commitment and an informational identity style were positively correlated with self-actualization and self-transcendence. When levels of identity commitment were controlled via hierarchical regression, self-actualization and self-transcendence were positively predicted by the informational identity style. Structural equation modeling further revealed that the use of an informational style positively predicts self-actualization and self-transcendence, which in turn positively predicts the presence of meaning and subjective happiness. This path model was not found for either the normative or diffuse-avoidant identity styles.

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