University of Sussex
Hassan, Bushra.pdf (4.35 MB)

Identity processes among adolescents and young adults in Pakistan: implications for personal and social well-being

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posted on 2023-06-09, 03:38 authored by Bushra Hassan
This thesis investigates how identity styles operate in a non-Western cultural context. Through four papers, it both tests and extends some of the theoretical assertions made by the social constructivist approach of identity styles (Berzonsky, 2011), which proposes that people construct both ‘who they think they are’ and ‘the reality in which they live’, through informational, normative or diffuse-avoidant identity orientations. Although the relationship among identity styles and well-being is well established in Western literature, there is a serious dearth of similar research in non-Western cultures such as Pakistan. Western theories tend to assume the universal generalisability of identity styles and their relationship with well-being. The primary aim of this research is to test the validity of this assumption in the cultural context of Pakistan. Paper 1 systematically examines the factorial structure of the Identity Styles Inventory (ISI-5) in a Pakistani sample. In confirmatory factor analysis, normative orientation items perform relatively poorly, leading to a possibility that the conception of normative orientation is not as universal as previously assumed. Paper 2 shows that well-being is predicted positively by information orientation and negatively by diffuse-avoidant orientation in the Pakistani sample. Normative orientation remained as non-significant predictor of well-being. Identity commitment and satisfaction of identity motives partially mediate these links. Paper 3 explores the indigenous processes of identity formation through qualitative semi-structured interviews. Normative orientation is found to operate at a much more complex level than assumed previously. Participants described many different ways of being normative, making this a less automatic, mindless and effortless process in Pakistani culture than assumed previously based on Western research models. Paper 4 focuses on the construction and psychometric testing of new measures of normative orientation suitable for use with the samples from Pakistan. Together, these studies illustrate the value of using indigenous perspectives to enrich Western-based understandings of identity formation.


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