PhD researcher/promovendus – dynamics of identity formation in adolescence

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Job description

PhD researcher/promovendus
Job description

Research Project: The dynamics of identity formation in adolescence

Project Description
The PhD project will be conducted within the Research Centre of
Adolescent Development (Program leader: Prof. Dr. W. Meeus). The
project focuses on the development of self and identity in adolescence,
the link between self and identity and psychosocial problems, and the
separation-individuation process. The general assumptions of the
project are that self and identity become more stable and organized
throughout adolescence, that identity crisis might play a crucial role
in this process, that identity and self become more specifically linked
to internalizing and externalizing problems, and take over the role of
parents in guiding adolescents through their lives. Five research
questions will be addressed:

1.Do self-concept clarity and identity grow and become more stable with
age? Various aspects of maturation, stability and change of
self-concept clarity and identity will be assessed.

2.Is development of identity predictive of typical configurations of internalizing and externalizing problems in adolescence?

3.Does identity crisis, operationalized as Moratorium, drive identity formation?

4.Is there a systematic link between the quality of adolescent-parent relationships and identity development?

5.Do maturation and growth of stability of identity lead to more
self-reliance? Does identity take over the role of parents in guiding
adolescents through their lives?


University Graduate

A master’s degree or equivalent in child and adolescent studies,
(developmental) psychology or a related discipline in social sciences.
Excellent research and writing skills and experience using longitudinal
statistical methodology. A good written and oral command of the English
language is also desired. We are looking for a motivated candidate who
has affinity with psychosocial development of adolescents.

Additional information about the job:
this project we restrict ourselves to the Eriksonian concept of
identity and Marcia’s (1966) elaboration of this into the identity
status model. Marcia regards identity as the outcome of two processes:
exploration of developmental alternatives in a certain domain; and
selection of one of these alternatives, that is to say, entering into a
commitment. Marcia describes four clearly differentiated identity
statuses, based on the amount of exploration and commitment, which the
adolescent is experiencing or has experienced. Identity diffusion (D)
indicates that the adolescent has made no commitment as yet regarding a
specific developmental task, and may or may not have explored different
developmental alternatives in that domain in the past. Foreclosure (F)
means that the adolescent has made a commitment without exploration. In
moratorium (M), the adolescent is in a state of active exploration and
has made no commitment or at best an unclear one. Identity achievement
(A) signifies that the adolescent has finished a period of active
exploration and has made a commitment.

The study will use data of two longitudinal studies: CONAMORE and
RADAR. CONAMORE is a five wave longitudinal multi-informant study of
Utrecht University. In each of five annual waves the target adolescent
(aged 12 and 16 at Time 1) provided data on identity formation,
self-concept clarity and internalizing and externalizing problems. This
way, data are available from age 12 to age 20. Attrition across the
five waves was less than 7%. RADAR involves a group of 250 target
adolescents (aged 12 at time 1), their families, and best friends.
RADAR is a five year longitudinal multi-informant study using a dual
data collection strategy: during 5 years panel members are visited
every year in their homes, and also answer questions through the
Internet at various moments in the year. The first annual assessment
took place in the spring of 2006, so for the present project data of 4
annual assessments and 12 internet assessments will be available. This
way data will be available from age 12 to age 16.

Annual home visit. Panel members are visited each year by trained
interviewers and provide data on self and outcome measures and on their
relationships. Data collection lasts half a day and data are gathered
by various methods: questionnaires, sorting tasks and videotaped
observations of family interactions. We believe that the annual home
assessment will allow the researchers to build up a good relationship
with the participants and to keep attrition low.

Internet assessments. To assess short term fluctuations and between-day
variability in identity formation target adolescents answer internet
questions several times during the year. Every internet assessment
takes 5 consecutive days during one week. Every day participants answer
questions for about 15 minutes.

The Ph.D. candidate will be responsible for conducting a literature
review of the existing research in this area and together with the
research team further refine the design of the planned research. The
candidate will contribute to the collection of data on 600 families
with at least two children and two (or one) parents. In addition the
candidate will be expected to disseminate the knowledge gained from
this project through publishing five research articles in international
research journals, the dissertation and presenting results at
international and national conferences. The candidate will also follow
advanced graduate training courses as deemed necessary including
advanced statistics and methodology courses.

The candidate will be a part of the nationally recognized Institute for
the Study of Education and Human Development (ISED), the national
research school for developmental and educational sciences that has
been recognized by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
(KNAW). The candidate will be a member of the Research Centre of
Adolescent Development of the local Langeveld research institute for
the Study of Education and Human Development in Childhood and
Adolescence. Besides being a member of the Adolescent Development team
the candidate will also be expected to follow advanced courses offered
by the national research school ISED.


Faculty of Social Sciences
The Faculty of Social Sciences of Utrecht
University has over 5000 students enrolled in six degree programmes:
General Social Sciences, Cultural Anthropology, Educational Sciences,
Pedagogical Sciences, and Psychology and Sociology. In addition, the
Faculty contributes to programmes in Economics, Cognitive Artificial
Intelligence, and Management and Organisational Sciences. The Faculty
participates in eight research schools. This wide array of programmes
and research centres provides opportunities to benefit from each
other’s teaching and research knowledge and expertise. They also
support the Faculty’s efforts to make a high-quality contribution to
the resolution of scientific and societal issues.

The Faculty of Social Sciences is looking to appoint a PhD researcher/promovendus

Conditions of employment

Estimated maximum salary per month: eur 2500 – 3000

Maximum salary amount in Euro’s a month 2472
Employment basis: Temporary for specified period
Duration of the contract: 4 years
Maximum hours per week: 36

Additional conditions of employment:
Terms of employment

The initial appointment to the position will be made for a 0,9 fte for
1 year that, with satisfactory completion, will result in an extension
for an additional 3 years. It is expected that the appointee will
complete all requirements for the Ph.D. degree within this period. This
PhD position can be extended to 0,1 fte by teaching (under)graduate
courses of the department.

The expected start date is no later than September 1, 2006. The salary
is € 1.933 gross per month in the first year and is expected to
increase to € 2.472 gross per month in the fourth year, for a full time
appointment, contingent on satisfactory performance.

Additional Information

Additional information about the vacancy can be obtained from:

Mrs. J. de Jong, Langeveld Institute
Telephone number: +3130 2532012
E-mail address:

Prof. Dr. W. Meeus
E-mail address:

Or additional information can be obtained through one of the following links.

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You can apply for this job before 20-06-2006 by sending your application to:

Utrecht University, Faculty of Social Sciences
Department of Personnel & Organization
P.G.M. Steinbusch

Postbus 80140

3508 TC Utrecht

the Netherlands

E-mail address:

2006-06-20 00:00:00.0

When applying for this job always mention the vacancy number 69623.
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