© 2017

Identity Flexibility During Adulthood

Perspectives in Adult Development

  • Jan D. Sinnott


  • Addresses the idea of adult identity as a constructed, flexible aspect of human experience

  • Focuses beyond the person to examine the interpersonal and world context of identity creation

  • Contributions range across theoretical, experimental, developmental, cognitive, and applied aspects of identity flexibility


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Concepts of Identity

  3. Research, Theory, Personal Experiences

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 51-51
    2. Cameron J. Camp
      Pages 99-114
    3. Louise Green
      Pages 179-182
    4. Carol Hoare
      Pages 183-195
    5. Kevin Rathunde, Russell Isabella
      Pages 211-232
    6. Jeff Rosenberg
      Pages 247-264

About this book


This volume seeks to explore the idea of identity as a flexible center of events around which aspects of the self and events in the outside world are organized. Historically, in much of the literature, identity was conceptualized as a somewhat fixed, unchanging construct. Scholars now have a greater awareness of more nuanced theories about identity and there is a greater willingness to accept that identity is not fixed, concrete, and permanent, but rather evolving and fluid.

Although this volume discusses a wide variety of aspects of identity as it flexibly changes during adulthood in the face of numerous experiences, it is really addressing one key question. How adaptive and fluid is identity and how can we know ourselves as both continuing and changing? Exploring these ideas raises the importance of future research on adult identity.

With a firm grounding in the historical and theoretical background of identity research, this volume begins by defining identity and the psychological “self” as a center around which the person’s behaviors and self-concepts revolve. The following chapters gather the wisdom of many writers who all accepted the challenge of talking about creating a flexible adult self and identity during adulthood. They come at this challenging question from many different perspectives using different tools. Some survey existing literature and theory, then summarize prior work in a meaningful way. Some discuss their own research; some reflect on personal experiences that have demanded a flexible identity. Also included in the coverage are discussions of methodology and validity issues for studies and scales of identity. With its dual focus on research and applied fields ranging across social and personality psychology, industrial/occupational psychology, cross-cultural psychology, mental health, existential issues, relationships, and demographic categories, Identity Flexibility During Adulthood: Perspectives on Adult Development is a fascinating and complex resource for psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, gerontologists, and all those interested in our changing identities.


cognitive aspects of flexible identity coping with identity challenges middle adulthood negative effects of flexible identity positive effects of flexibile identity psychopathology emerging adulthood and identity growth experiences and identity identity in older adults identity in immigrant populations identity and transgender individuals dementia and identity parenthood identity non-Western identity Badaga identity and Buddhism Eudaimonia

Editors and affiliations

  • Jan D. Sinnott
    • 1
  1. 1.Towson UniversityBaltimoreUSA

About the editors

Jan D. Sinnott, PHD, is a Professor of Psychology at Towson University in Baltimore, MD, and a Licensed Psychologist. She specializes in Lifespan Positive Development and the applications of existential, transpersonal, mind-body and positive psychology to adult growth and development. After completing a Postdoc at the National Institute on Aging, she developed her theory of complex problem-solving in adulthood, termed Complex Postformal Thought. She has authored or co-authored over 100 scholarly and applied books and publications. Her research team is currently studying Complex Problem-solving, Concepts of the Self, Intelligence, Mindfulness, and Satisfaction in Intimate Relationships. Her recent books include: Positive Psychology: Advances in Understanding Adult Motivation (2013, Springer) and Adult Development: Cognitive Aspects of Thriving Close Relationships (2014, Oxford University Press).

Bibliographic information