Supporting Adolescent Exploration and Commitment: Identity Formation, Thriving, and Positive Youth Development


  • Mary Elizabeth Arnold Oregon State University



identity formation, thriving, positive youth development, Erik Erikson


The large body of literature on adolescent identity formation, pre-dating and found largely outside the main body of positive youth development (PYD) literature, shows that identity formation remains a key process for adolescent well-being. This paper revisits the critical adolescent task of identity formation proposed by Erikson (1950) and outlines an alignment of identity formation with adolescent thriving and PYD. By highlighting the congruency of identity formation and PYD the paper considers the role that youth development programs can play in assisting the process of identity formation in adolescents. Practical program implications for facilitating identity formation are presented.

Author Biography

Mary Elizabeth Arnold, Oregon State University

Professor I 4-H Youth Development Specialist
Program Research and Evaluation
School of Social and Behavioral Health Sciences
College of Public Health and Human Sciences
Oregon State University


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