Document Type

Student Research Paper


Spring 2020

Academic Department


Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. Kimberly Adams


Psychologists have long pondered what elements are necessary during adolescence in order for an individual to become a mentally healthy and societally productive adult. Identity development is an ongoing process from the early stages of experiencing the world for the first time to the late stages of reflecting on one’s life. The dissection of identity development has led to the organization of stages. Erik Erikson, one of the most influential scholars in understanding human identity development, devised a series of eight stages that occur chronologically throughout a person’s life. Based on these stages, developmental psychologist James Marcia, a clinical and developmental psychologist, focused on adolescent identity development, proposing that it consists of varying degrees of exploration and commitment, including various statuses within the identity development stage. Marcia is Professor of Psychology at Simon Fraser University in Canada; he formed his identity development theory in the 1960s.

For this analysis, I will examine the application of Marcia’s statuses to adolescent fictional characters, with an emphasis on the effects of diversity. Using the framework of developmental psychology, several adolescent protagonists of various works of fiction are analyzed, with the following questions in mind: How well does each character fit James Marcia’s model for identity development statuses? How do the characters’ aspects of diversity affect their identity development process? What does all of this imply?


Senior thesis.