Date of Award

Fall 12-31-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Human Development and Family Science

First Advisor

Dr. Erin Boyd-Soisson


This study focused on the development of one’s identity during adolescence. According to Erik Erikson’s theory, adolescents experience the crisis of identity development vs. role confusion. These years are important for discovering who one is and one’s role in society. Adolescents shape their identity through interpersonal relationships, family, friends, activities, and the overall society. Ecological Systems theory encompasses these categories in a layered model by Urie Bronfenbrenner. Both of these theories were explained and utilized in the exploration of identity development across adolescence. The primary objective of this study was to examine literature on identity development and apply these principles through the qualitative method of an autoethnography. Autoethnography is a method that uses an individual’s experience for studying culture. This method allows for cultural understanding through the telling of personal stories. Additionally, this study included creating a code with the factors affecting identity and using the coding system to analyze the author’s personal journals from ninth grade and twelfth grade. The coding system was broken down into categories based on the layers of Bronfenbrenner’s model and factors that influence adolescents’ identity. The results included themes of processing family dynamics, faith application, increased involvement, and social comparison. In conclusion, the themes and stories were analyzed in the context of the surrounding youth culture.


Approved for honors in the Department of Human Development and Family Science, Messiah College, 2018.