Commitment and exploration: The need for a developmental approach

Saskia Kunnen, Marijke Metz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


This chapter addresses identity development from a process perspective, with specific focus on commitment and
exploration as core processes of identity development. It begins with an overview of the theory on identity
development. Via Erikson and Marcia, the authors discuss the recent models of Meeus and colleagues, as well as
of Luyckx and colleagues, demonstrating that a process approach is becoming increasingly salient in thinking
about identity development and arguing that, to understand the developmental processes, one needs to study the
development of individuals. Next, the authors present a process model that describes how identity emerges from
real-time events. Finally, the authors elaborate how, based on a dynamic systems perspective, researchers could
set up studies that gain insight into the processes of emergence, stability, and change of commitments, and they
discuss some simple techniques that can be used to study developmental processes on an individual level.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford handbook of identity development
EditorsKate C. McLean, Moin Syed
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2014


  • Identity development, exploration, commitments, developmental processes, dynamic systems

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