The objective of the study was to diagnose changes in the identity of individuals with mild intellectual disability (ID) in late adolescence and emerging adulthood, comparing them to their non-disabled peers. The dual-cycle model of identity formation of Luyckx et al. was employed (Developmental Psychology, 42,366–380, 2006). The study included 127 participants living in Poland. Three waves were performed at half-year intervals. The Dimensions of Identity Development Scale in its modified version for people with ID was used (DIDS/PL-1;Rękosiewicz Studia Psychologiczne, 53,19–31, 2015). People from the four study groups (A - late adolescents with ID, B - emerging adults with ID, C - late adolescents within the intellectual norm, D - emerging adults within the intellectual norm) in the main did not differ from one another in respect of the dimensions of identity formation. Over time, there was an increase in commitment making and identification with commitment, but only among adolescents with ID. None of the groups demonstrated significant changes in exploration in breadth, in depth, nor in ruminative exploration. It was successfully demonstrated that people with mild ID are not distinct on all dimensions of identity formation when compared to their peers within the intellectual norm. Minor changes in identity may indicate a longer period of identity formation, or dynamic changes coming earlier – during early adolescence or later – in early adulthood. . . . . . Keywords Commitment Emerging adulthood Exploration Identity Late adolescence Mild intellectual disability Background In the psychological sense, Erikson’s theory defines identity as a set of beliefs about oneself, the world and people, as the Identity is a theoretical construct frequently explored by social perception of sameness and continuity of one’s own person scientists, both in theoretical deliberations and in empirical stud- despite the passage of time, and also as the feeling of distinct- ies (Brubaker and Cooper 2000). Although it is understood in ness and integrity (Erikson 1950). This theory was then devel- various ways, as a phenomenon impacting individuals or a col- oped by Marcia, and in that form later reflected in numerous lective, in the most general terms it can always be defined as a empirical studies (e.g. Marcia 1966; Marcia and Friedman subjective response to the question Bwho am I (are we)?^ 1969; Slugoski et al. 1984; Toder and Marcia 1973). Marcia Psychological studies to date have been focused mainly on the understood identity as the effect of exploration and of commit- subjective conditions for the formation of identity or its subjec- ment, which constituted consecutive stages. Exploration is an tive correlates. We know far less about the social mechanisms orientational and exploratory activity, which means it consists involved in identity formation (Schwartz 2001). One particular in actively attempting and assessing diverse alternatives before unknown consists of groups of individuals with unique experi- taking the decision to engage in action. Commitment is the ences: social minorities, non-students, people not attending stage which comes after exploration, consisting in taking a school, people of low socio-economic status, and people with decision and engaging in action. Scores on these two dimen- disabilities, especially those with intellectual disability. sions then serve as the basis for distinguishing four statuses of identity: achievement, moratorium, foreclosure, and diffusion. Koen Luyckx et al. performed research in which they dem- onstrated that the process of identity formation is more complex * Małgorzata Rękosiewicz than the two-stage model would suggest (Luyckx et al. 2006). firstname.lastname@example.org They uncovered the existence of three types of exploration, and Institute of Psychology, Adam Mickiewicz University, two types of commitment (Luyckx et al. 2008a). Exploration in Poznań,Poland Curr Psychol breadth (i.e., exploration as captured by Marcia) is the search several age groups (19–21 years, 22–25 years, 26–35 years) for alternatives in respect of one’s values, goals, and convic- the last of them was characterized by the highest frequency of tions prior to making a choice. Exploration in depth is a detailed achieved identity, that is, with a high prevalence of Bpositive^ explorations (not rumination), as well as making and identi- assessment of previous choices in order to determine whether the commitments that have been made are acceptable to the fying with commitments (Piotrowski et al. 2013). individual. Ruminative exploration refers to the fears and The small body of longitudinal studies also does not pro- vide us with definitive results. In one of them, no changes doubts that concern commitment in spheres of relevance to the formation of identity. Commitment making (i.e., commit- were observed among adolescents (five waves at 12-month ment as captured by Marcia) entails making choices and com- intervals) in terms of commitment, and also constancy in the level of exploration in depth from early to middle adolescence, mitments important in the development of identity. Finally, as well as its increase from middle to late adolescence identification with a commitment means identification with choices made and is associated with a feeling of certainty that (Klimstra et al. 2010) – this could attest to the beginning of a cycle of commitment evaluation at the end of adolescence. those choices are the right one for the individual. In turn, in longitudinal studies among emerging adults (four Exploration in breadth and commitment making are equiv- alents to the concepts of exploration and commitment accord- waves over two years) increase was observed in two dimen- sions of exploration – in breadth and in depth – but also in ing to Marcia, and they constitute the first cycle in the forma- commitment making, along with a decline in commitment tion of identity – the cycle of commitment formation. This is identification (Luyckx et al. 2006), which would entail inten- the time when the individual makes an initial decision as to the sification of the search for the best alternatives in that age best alternative for him/herself. In the second cycle – evalua- (cycle of commitment making) along with the beginnings of tion of commitment – assessment of the choice already made commitment evaluation. In another study involving the same is performed, that is the exploration in depth and identification age group (three waves in three years) no significant changes with the commitment. This is why the model developed by were observed, although a slow increase in the level of com- Luyckx is sometimes referred to as the dual-cycle model of mitment making was noticed (Luyckx et al. 2008a). identity formation (Luyckx et al. 2007). However, it is diffi- As a variable, age itself turns out to be insufficient to de- cult to definitively demarcate normative age borders applica- termine the process of identity formation. It could be assumed ble to each cycle in the development of identity. that internal-group differences (both in adolescence and Scores on the dimensions of identity change with age – gen- emerging adulthood) are an effect of the dependency of iden- erally, a small decline in exploration and a strong increase of tity formation on other factors than age, such as social factors commitment are observed from the period of adolescence (earlier (experiences of young people), or broader cultural elements and later), through emerging adulthood and into early adulthood (such as social norms referring to milestones and the time of (Waterman 1982). Later adolescence (roughly 15–18 years old) entry into adulthood). Grounds for such an assumption can be and emerging adulthood (roughly 18–25 years old) seem, how- supplied by longitudinal studies conducted among individuals ever, to be quite similar in respect of the process of identity in the same developmental phase but with different formative development. The demands of the social environment in emerg- experiences at that age (e.g. type of education selected by ing adulthood as to making commitments remain relatively adolescents – Brzezińska (2017); undertaking studies or work small, and mainly concern education. During this period a high level of exploration is maintained (Schwartz et al. 2013). in emerging adulthood - Karaś et al. 2012). Although it is suggested in the theory of identity develop- On the basis of results of studies on identity development it ment (see e.g. Slugoski et al. 1984) that a necessary condition is difficult to definitively determine the age or developmental period in which specific changes in identity dimensions occur. of its formation is the prior development of formal operations as described by Piaget (see Piaget 1972), study results in this Large differences among individuals seem to be prevalent in area present us with a muddy picture. Among some participants this process. For example, a study conducted with the partic- who were subjected to a diagnosis of identity status according ipation of individuals in developmental phases from adoles- cence to emerging adulthood (from 14 to 30 years old) uncov- to the Marcia model, it was observed that achievement (high level of exploration and commitment) and moratorium (high ered an increasing level of commitment making and identifi- level of exploration and low level of commitment) – the two cation with commitments as age increased (Luyckx et al. most mature statuses, each involving a high level of explora- 2013). Exploration in breadth and in depth, and, to a lesser degree, rumination, increased from adolescence to emerging tion, are associated with high results in tasks measuring the capacity to conduct formal operations (e.g. Rowe and Marcia adulthood (reaching a peak around 22 years), after which it 1980;Slugoskietal. 1984). There are, however, studies in declined slightly, while remaining in the oldest age group (30- which this relationship was not confirmed, such as Berzonsky year-olds) at a higher level than among the youngest adoles- cents. In Polish studies it has been observed that among et al. 1975; Cauble 1976;Leiper 1981. Today it is held that Curr Psychol when analysing cognitive development in the form of succes- functioning efficient enough to realize their disability and sive stages, children and youngsters with intellectual disability seem to be aware of its impact on the development of their personal identity (though probably in a specific domain - e.g., (ID) develop according to the same sequence as their non- career plans). This problem, however, should be treated as an disabled counterparts (Zigler 2001). Among both groups the same phases of cognitive development take place, with the area for further research to explore. There is a lack of studies focused in the strict sense of the difference that children and youngsters with ID proceed from term on the formation of individual identity. Perhaps one of the one phase to the next more slowly than their non-disabled reasons for this is the lack of appropriate diagnostic instruments peers. If identity is dependent on cognitive development, then that would facilitate research among this social group. The individuals with ID should be characterized by identity differ- current study had two primary objectives. The first was to di- ent from their non-disabled peers but similar to younger indi- agnose the dimensions of personal identity formation of indi- viduals within the intellectual norm. viduals in late-adolescence and emerging adulthood with mild Hypothetically speaking, a low level of intelligence could ID, comparing them to their intellectually non-disabled peers. directly impact the formation of identity by impeding under- The second was to diagnose the development of their personal standing of the consequences of one’s own actions, planning, identity over time. It was expected that individuals with ID imagination of self in various roles, insight into own motiva- would be characterized by a lower prevalence of exploration tions, and also indirectly by liberating certain social processes in breadth and in depth, of commitment making and identifica- – for instance when the ID of a child leads that child’sparents tion, and a higher level of ruminative exploration than their to hamper him/her in initiating independent exploration, or intellectually non-disabled counterparts. This difference may they incur and impose commitments in the child’sname with- result directly or indirectly from ID. A hypothesis was also out consultation. Studies on identity previously conducted formulated as to increase of commitment making and identifi- among individuals with ID primarily address social and gen- cation over time; these changes, however, are likely to be great- der identity, feelings of stigmatization, and feelings of being er among individuals in the phase of emerging adulthood rather different and disabled (e.g. Beart et al. 2005; Craig et al. than those in late adolescence (as an effect of a greater „coming 2002). Disability identity is a topic increasingly often ad- closer^ to adulthood). This should also be more likely among dressed by researchers (Forber-Pratt et al. 2017). It is defined non-disabled individuals compared to those with ID (as an in various ways, but in the most general terms it is an answer effect of the reduced tempo of cognitive development poten- to the following questions: BDo I perceive myself as a person tially associated with the formation of personal identity). with a disability?^ and BHow do I understand my disability?^ Models of disability identity development describe its succes- sive stages (e.g., Gibson 2006;Gill 1997) orstatuses(Forber- Pratt and Zape 2017). Disability identity is reflected in the Method individual’s perception of themselves (with their disability) and in the perception of their own defective organism as well Participants as their possibilities of interacting with the environment – both social and physical. Personal identity discussed in the present Study participants belonged to one of two age groups: (1) late paper is understood more broadly, as a way of perceiving adolescence (16–17 years old at Wave 1), and (2) emerging oneself not only through the lens of one’s disability but also adulthood (20–21 years old at Wave 1); they were also divided in terms of one’s resources and weaknesses unrelated to the into two groups distinguished by level of intellectual function- disability. At the same time, functional limitations seem to be ing: (1) with mild ID, and (2) within intellectual norm. Thus an important, if not crucial, element in personal identity for- four groups distinguished by developmental stage and level of mation and in making future plans, particularly if the disability intellectual functioning were created (groups A, B, C, D, is severe. Individuals with mild intellectual disability are a Table 1). The sample was selected purposefully, with attention special group here. On the one hand, limitations in intellectual paid to the assumed criteria. Participants lived in Poland, and functioning may impair in-depth reflection necessary for all of them continued their education in schools. They building one’s disability identity. For individuals with ID, attended one of four types of school: general upper- Bdisability identity^ may develop on the level of feelings or secondary schools or vocational schools – preparing students perceptions rather than on the intellectual level. Standard for a trade (Group C), special vocational schools – preparing methods of testing disability identity would therefore have to students with disabilities for a trade (Groups A and B – all be replaced with different ones, adjusted to the capabilities of subjects with ID), and higher education institutions (Group individuals with ID – such as observation or qualitative D). ID diagnosis was not made in the study. Subjects with methods. On the other hand, compared to people with other ID were selected from vocational special schools (from classes degrees of ID, individuals with mild ID exhibit cognitive only for students with mild ID). All of them had been qualified Curr Psychol Table 1 Sample characteristics Variable Group A Group B Group C Group D Adolescence, ID Emerging adulthood, ID Adolescence, ND Emerging adulthood, ND n =36 n =31 n =30 n =30 Age M =16.36 M =20.42 M =16.23 M =20.43 (sd=0.49) (sd = 0.50) (sd=0.43) (sd =0.50) Female n = 15 (41.7%) n =12 (38.7%) n = 19 (63.3%) n = 21 (70.0%) ID intellectual disability, ND non disabled for special education by psychological and educational In the current study, individual items in the questionnaire were read aloud by the researcher, and the participant was counselling centres based on mild ID diagnosis, in accordance with ICD-10 guidelines and Polish education law. All subjects tasked with selecting one of four answers which best reflected with ID lived with their families in villages and small towns, the degree to which the statement reflected him/her. A piece of and during school time (from Monday to Friday) they lived in paper detailing the possible responses was placed in front of boarding school dormitories. the participant and remained there during the entire testing At Wave 1 143 people participated, at Wave 2 132, and at session. After the participant gave a response, the researcher Wave 3 127. Thirteen people resigned from further participa- independently entered it on the response sheet. tion in the study, whereas 3 left the school they had previously Reliability as measured using Cronbach’s alpha at the suc- attended and then refused further meetings at the site of their cessive waves was: EB scale: 0.72; 0.74; 0.75; ED scale: 0.72; new school. The final analysis took a total of 127 participants 0.71; 0.71; RE scale: 0.71; 0.72; 0.72; CM scale: 0.83; 0.88; into consideration as having taken part in all three waves. 0.85; IC scale: 0.85; 0.90; 0.87. During the study, Pearson’s r correlations observed in other studies using DIDS were replicated among dimensions of Measure identity (e.g. Luyckx et al. 2008a, b). These are: positive cor- relation between exploration in breadth and in depth (at a Dimensions of Identity Development Scale DIDS – Modified moderate level), moderate and strong positive correlation be- Version (DIDS/PL-1) tween scales of commitment, negative correlation between ruminative exploration and commitment making (although at The scale is based on the dual-cycle theory of identity formation a low level). Among these same dimensions of identity by Luyckx et al. (2006), and it examines the five dimensions of assessed at three waves there is a positive, moderate or strong identity. The original DIDS was adapted in Poland by Brzezińska and Piotrowski – DIDS/PL (Brzezińska and Piotrowski 2010), correlation. Correlations among the DIDS subscales are rep- resented in Table 2. and its modified version DIDS/PL-1 is a simplified (both linguis- tically and in terms of content) version, suitable for use among individuals with mild ID (for a detailed description of the devel- Procedure and Data Analyses opment of the scale, see Rękosiewicz 2015). DIDS/PL-1 is not a Polish translation of the original English version; it is a simplified Permission to conduct the research at the sites of schools was form of the Polish version, DIDS/PL. given by headmasters. Informed consent was obtained in writ- The modified version, similarly to the original, is com- ing from all participants and from the parents of minor partic- posed of 25 items in the form of declarative sentences ipants. A total of 234 people who met the criteria for selection concerning plans for the future made by the participant. to the research group (and their parents) received information These items comprise five scales (with five items in each about the study along with a consent form. Of those, 143 scale) that align with the five dimensions of identity (explora- expressed their readiness to participate in the study. tion in breadth, exploration in depth, ruminative exploration, Data were collected at three waves (each lasting three commitment making, commitment identification). In the mod- weeks) with half-year intervals. At each wave, participants ified version (DIDS/PL-1) the number of answers has been completed the identity measure individually in a school room reduced from six to four: 1 – no;2 – rather not,3 – rather with only the researcher being present. During the test session, yes,4 – yes (the DIDS/PL-1 version was tested psychometri- the questionnaire items were read aloud to the participants and cally previously – see Rękosiewicz 2015). For each of the five their answers were recorded on a response form. Each test DIDS/PL-1 subscales, scores were averaged across the five session lasted 30 min. constituent items. Each scale has a minimum score of 1 and I conducted a single-variable analysis of variance with a maximum score of 4 points. group (A, B, C, D) as a factor and with dimensions of identity Curr Psychol Table 2 Correlations amongst the five identity dimensions Variable 123 4 5678 910 11 12 13 14 15 1. EB 1 – 2. ED 1 0.65** – 3. RE 1 0.68** 0.52** – 4. CM 1 0.03 0.10 −0.31** – 5. IC 1 0.12 0.18* −0.16 0.59** – 6. EB 2 0.69** 0.48** 0.56** 0.00 0.18* – 7. ED 2 0.40** 0.49** 0.43** −0.02 0.03 0.62* – 8. RE 2 0.48** 0.29** 0.54** −0.25** −0.12 0.45** 0.35** – 9. CM 2 −0.05 0.01 −0.29** 0.72** 0.58** 0.04 0.08 −0.33** – 10. IC 2 0.11 0.15 −0.13 0.55** 0.78** 0.27** 0.10 −0.09 0.71** – 11. EB 3 0.43** 0.36** 0.29** 0.11 0.06 0.46** 0.49** 0.32** 0.08 0.18* – 12. ED 3 0.27** 0.31** 0.21* 0.09 0.08 0.26** 0.43* 0.16 0.01 0.15 0.50** – 13. RE 3 0.21** 0.20* 0.35** −0.09 −0.13 0.22* 0.15 0.33** −0.13 0.00 0.46** 0.18* – 14. CM 3 0.00 −0.07 −0.18* 0.56** 0.35** 0.05 0.05 −0.13 0.51** 0.41** 0.05 0.13 −0.33** – 15. IC 3 0.20* 0.08 −0.06 0.43** 0.47** 0.16 0.04 −0.03 0.39** 0.52** 0.19* 0.24** −0.20** 0.71** – * p <0.05, ** p <0.001 Number next to the variable means the wave number. EB exploration in breadth, ED exploration in depth, RE ruminative exploration, CM commitment making, IC identification with commitment development as dependent variables, followed by post hoc In order to verify this hypothesis, first a single-factor Tukey test. To examine changes over time, I performed a analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted with an single-factor analysis of variance with an independently re- independently repeated measure in each of the four stud- peated measurement. The level of significance was .05 in all ied groups. Change in the course of three waves tests. All analyses were performed with the IBM SPSS concerning dimensions of identity took place only in Statistics software, version 24.0. two cases. First, a change in commitment making was observed in Group A, thus among disabled adolescent individuals [Pillai’s Trace = 0.20; F (2; 34) = 4.14; p = 0.03; η = 0.12]. The assumption of sphericity was ful- Results filled (in Mauchly’s W test p = 0.97). The analysis re- vealed a significant main effect [F (2, 70) = 4.13, p = The posited hypothesis assumed that people with ID are 0.02, η = 0.11]. A post hoc test (with correction for mul- characterised by a lower scores on identity dimensions their tiple Bonferroni comparisons) uncovered a significant dif- intellectually non-disabled peers (excepting ruminative explo- ference in commitment making at Wave 2 (M = 2.97) and ration). In order to examine this hypothesis, a single-variable Wave 3 (M =3.33) – together with the passage of time this analysis of variance was conducted on a group (A, B, C, D) as group showed an increase for this dimension of identity. a factor, and with five dimensions of identity as dependent Second, a change was observed for identification with variables. A post hoc Tukey test uncovered a difference be- commitment in the same group [Pillai’s Trace = 0.18; F tween groups only at Wave 2, and only for exploration in (2; 34) = 3.63; p =0.04; η = 0.18]. Because the assump- depth (Table 3). Individuals with ID in the phase of emerging tion of sphericity was not met (in Mauchly’s W test p = adulthood are characterized by a greater exploration in depth 0.04), corrections were made using the Greenhouse- than their non-disabled peers. This is in direct contradiction to Geisser test. The analysis uncovered a significant main the assumptions of the hypothesis. effect [F (2, 70) = 4.15, p = 0.02, η = 0.11]. A post hoc It was expected that together with the passage of time both test (with correction for multiple Bonferroni comparisons) the group of individuals with ID and those without it would indicated a significant difference between Wave 2 (M = record the increase in commitment making and identification. 3.38) and Wave 3 (M = 3.63). As in the case of commit- It was also expected that this increase would be greater among ment making, the passage of time was accompanied by an individuals in emerging adulthood than among late adoles- increase in commitment identification (Fig. 1). For the cents, and also among normally functioning individuals com- remainingdimensionsofidentitytherewasnochangein pared to those with ID. any of the four groups studied. Curr Psychol Table 3 Univariate ANOVA’s and post-hoc comparisons based upon Tukey HSD tests for the four research groups at Wave 1, 2, and 3 Group A Group B Group C Group D F(η ) Adolescence, ID Emerging adulthood, ID Adolescence, ND Emerging adulthood, ND n =36 n =31 n =30 n =30 EB 1 M =3.38 M =3.20 M =3.31 M =3.13 0.87 (0.02) Sd =0.60 sd=0.77 sd =0.68 sd = 0.64 p = 0.46 EB 2 M =3.26 M =3.28 M =3.42 M =3.13 0.97 (0.02) Sd =0.71 sd=0.71 sd =0.62 sd = 0.62 p = 0.41 EB 3 M =3.37 M =3.43 M =3.39 M =3.12 1.56 (0.04) Sd =0.66 sd=0.61 sd =0.50 sd = 0.68 p = 0.20 ED 1 M =3.19 M =3.11 M =3.15 M =2.91 1.02 (0.02) sd =0.66 sd=0.80 sd =0.63 sd = 0.63 p = 0.39 a, b b b a ED 2 M =3.11 M =3.22 M =3.21 M =2.71 3.92 (0.09) sd =0.69 sd=0.61 sd =0.64 sd = 0.70 p < 0.01 ED 3 M =3.17 M =3.26 M =3.23 M =2.93 1.52 (0.04) sd =0.78 sd=0.64 sd =0.53 sd = 0.64 p = 0.21 RE 1 M =2.88 M =2.92 M =2.63 M =2.59 1.56 (0.04) sd =0.73 sd=0.82 sd =0.70 sd = 0.73 p = 0.20 RE 2 M =2.69 M =2.81 M =2.40 M =2.33 2.85 (0.07) sd =0.78 sd=0.96 sd =0.62 sd = 0.55 p < 0.05 RE 3 M =2.77 M =2.70 M =2.53 M =2.34 2.17 (0.05) sd =0.90 sd=0.76 sd =0.53 sd = 0.64 p = 0.10 CM 1 M =3.02 M =2.70 M =3.02 M =2.74 1.34 (0.03) sd =0.81 sd=0.93 sd =0.79 sd = 0.93 p = 0.27 CM 2 M =2.97 M =2.90 M =3.07 M =2.91 0.20 (0.005) sd =0.97 sd=1.09 sd =0.79 sd = 0.84 p = 0.90 CM 3 M =3.33 M =3.11 M =3.10 M =2.83 2.01 (0.05) sd =0.73 sd=0.89 sd =0.84 sd = 0.81 p = 0.12 IC 1 M =3.50 M =3.32 M =3.41 M =2.74 0.57 (0.01) sd =0.66 sd=0.79 sd =0.55 sd = 0.93 P =0.64 IC 2 M =3.38 M =3.26 M =3.43 M =3.29 0.35 (0.01) sd =0.72 sd=0.91 sd =0.52 sd = 0.74 p = 0.79 IC 3 M =3.63 M =3.48 M =3.50 M =3.33 1.25 (0.03) sd =0.45 sd=0.66 sd =0.61 sd = 0.77 p = 0.30 Number next to the variable means the wave number. Different indexes next to the mean values indicate significant differences between the groups. ID intellectual disability, ND non disabled, EB exploration in breadth, ED exploration in depth, RE ruminative exploration, CM commitment making, IC identification with commitment Discussion disabled counterparts. The results of the study did not confirm this hypothesis. Individuals with mild ID take a similar ap- Formation of identity is one of the primary goals of develop- proach in making (at least in their own opinion) the best ment during the period of adolescence and emerging adult- choices for themselves in their adult lives, they take important hood. Empirical studies conducted in various countries and decisions, they assess choices made, and they feel good with cultural contexts, including in Poland, point to the phenome- their choices in the belief that they have made the right deci- non of delayed adulthood, meaning the increasingly later com- sions. The level of anxiety associated with these actions is also mitment to developmental tasks and social roles associated similar to that displayed by normally functioning individuals. with the period of adulthood (e.g. Arnett 2000; Brzezińska ID itself is thus not a sufficiently strong factor to determine the et al. 2012; Macek et al. 2007; Negru 2012). This phenome- level of dimensions of identity development. It should be not- non also applies to the subjective indicator of adulthood that is ed, however, that the participants in the study were individuals development of individual identity. Studies on the develop- with only mild ID, which means the findings apply only to this ment of identity, however, generally overlook minority groups particular group. It seems that the higher is the level of ID, the in society (Schwartz 2001), including those with ID. greater differences can be observed. Hypothetically, differ- Prior to undertaking the research it was assumed that peo- ences would be caused both by lower capacity for reflection ple with mild ID differed in respect of identity from their non- and for making future plans as well as by more limited social Curr Psychol 4,0 Fig. 1 Mean-level change in identity dimensions over time in group A (adolescence, ID). EB, exploration in breadth; ED, EB exploration in depth; RE, 3,5 ED ruminative exploration CM, commitment making; IC, RE identification with commitment CM 3,0 IC 2,5 2,0 Wave 1 Wave 2 Wave 3 experience, which constitutes an important factor in the devel- great significance in this case is stereotypes concerning the opment of individuals with ID (Hodapp et al. 1995). alleged aggression of people with ID or additionally At the same time, it is difficult to imagine that there could diminishing their intellectual abilities and, consequently, their be absolutely no differences between what are, after all, intel- capacity for independent action (resulting in these people be- lectually differently-functioning groups of the participants in ing thought of as Bperennial children^). the study. Perhaps they are to be found in the feeling of iden- The only difference, observed at Wave 2, concerned explo- tity in specific areas, such as education, profession, or religion. ration in depth; yet the result recorded was the opposite of that The awareness of one’s own disability and disability identity predicted, as people with ID during emerging adulthood probably play a significant role here. Individuals with a dis- assessed that they engaged to a greater extent than their non- ability have to analyze their own limitations and adjust their disabled peers in an extensive review of their own life choices, abilities to the opportunities offered by the environment, as deciding whether they were appropriate and satisfactory. well as choose from the opportunities available in accordance However, insofar as a decline in the intensity of in-depth as- with their disability (Forber-Pratt et al. 2017). After complet- sessments of commitments made during the transition from late ing their education, people with different kinds of disability adolescence into emerging adulthood has been previously ob- experience difficulties connected with the need to take on new served in studies (e.g. Brzezińska et al. 2012), its lower inten- developmental tasks characteristic of adulthood. These prob- sity among normally functioning individuals compared to their lems are observed among people with learning difficulties intellectually disabled counterparts is a surprising fact in light (Carnaby et al. 2003), physical disability (Wells et al. 2003), of the hypotheses offered. It was assumed that ID could be and visual impairment (Keil and Crews 2008). In patients with associated with a low level of exploration in depth remaining diabetes, certain difficulties were observed directly in identity through late adolescence and emerging adulthood – as a result formation – namely, lower scores on exploration than in the of cognitive limitations, and thus manifesting itself in difficul- case of healthy individuals (Luyckx et al. 2008c). Withdrawal ties with assessing own choices. However, individuals with from undertaking new developmental tasks increases the po- mild ID – younger ones – do not differ in this respect from tential risk of further difficulties in the process of identity non-disabled counterparts (both younger and older), whereas formation. In individuals with ID this problem seems to be older ones do differ from their non-disabled counterparts, but in bigger, since their limited use of activity opportunities in the a direction opposite from the one assumed. Perhaps this results social environment may be intensified by exclusive behaviors should be understood as a positive indicator of self- on the part of the social environment. The choice of the way of determination (cf. Nota et al. 2007). Exploration in depth is a life is more narrow among people with mild ID than in non- manifestation of self-determined activity, namely: (1) volitional disabled individuals, which, in the Polish conditions, is par- activity (making an intentional, conscious choice based on ticularly visible in work domain – people with disabilities, one’s preferences); (2) instrumental activity (self-regulatory including individuals with ID, seldom work in the open job and self-directed goal-oriented activity); (3) activity with a be- market and more often find employment in workplaces lief in self-control. Exploration in depth plays an immensely established especially for them (i.e., occupational activation important role particularly with regard to the last of these func- centres or sheltered employment facilities). What may be of tions of self-determination. This is because exploration in depth Curr Psychol involves asking oneself questions, for example, about whether one indicating growth, but not extensive. In both cases, as the one has the capacity and possibility to achieve one’s goals, or size of the effect indicates, time explains 11% of the variance about whether there is a chance of achieving these goals and of identity dimensions, so it is a rather weak effect, at best about how big this chance is. Positive answers to these ques- moderate. At Wave 3 that group was not distinguished in tions make it possible for an individual to act with more self- terms of those dimensions from the remaining groups. On awareness and self-knowledge; they also direct the individual the one hand, it can be said that this group (alone) took a towards the goal. Asking such questions is itself the first step to positive step towards building its own identity, but on the self-determination. other hand the change is still quite minor. However, in conjunction with the fact that this phenome- Analysed in the context of other studies on identity forma- non (greater exploration in depth in individuals with ID than tion (see: Klimstra et al. 2010;Luyckx et al. 2006), it can be in non-disabled individuals) was only recorded in one of three concluded from the study at hand that it is difficult to point to waves, it is difficult to speak of it as a rule. the age at which changes in the sphere of identity take place. Additionally, what requires reflection is whether indeed Perhaps this difficulty could be overcome by conducting individuals with ID are capable of making fully self-directed multi-annual studies, but beginning of necessity in early ado- decisions. The authors of Casual Agency Theory define self- lescence, and concluding at the close of early adulthood. This determined people as those who Bactinservicetofreely cho- would complement knowledge acquired during longitudinal sen goals^ (Nota et al. 2007, pp. 258). As mentioned above, studies concerning the difference in particular dimensions people with mild ID have limited activity opportunities in among developmental periods. These studies should be initi- Poland (a phenomenon that is not infrequent in other coun- ated at the earliest possible moment, as in accordance with the tries, too), which means it can hardly be said that they can theoretical description of identity development, one does not make fully independent choices. Certain choices are made for enter the adolescence with Btabula rasa^.Identity begins to individuals with ID, who are allowed some degree of indepen- develop in childhood, and this process only intensifies during dence only with a certain limited offer of options provided. adolescence and emerging adulthood. Nevertheless, a high level of exploration in depth should be The current study brings new knowledge on the subject of treated as a positive result, though it would be useful to con- identity development among individuals with ID. At the same duct replication studies and probe the causes of this state of time, there are significant limitations. The first of them is the affairs – e.g., personality dispositions and, particularly, social small group sizes, which is a common issue in studies focused factors (e.g., cultural conditions, attitudes towards people with on specific groups. It does not allow for generalization of ID and their independence, social inclusion vs. segregation). study results, and requires replication. Another weak aspect When analysing the results of the study, it should be taken is limitations in the selection of sample selection to students of selected educational groups, which may have a significant into account that the group of non-disabled individuals in the phase of emerging adulthood was comprised entirely of stu- impact on results. The specific educational context would dents – they are typically characterized by a continually high seem to be of importance in shaping personal identity. An level of exploration, and thus do not differ to a significant interesting expansion of the studies would be to perform an degree from late adolescents. Perhaps other results could be introductory assessment of IQ among participants, not just expected among non-students already professionally active level of ID. The category of mild ID is quite broad – it encom- during the phase of emerging adolescence. There are studies passes people with an IQ of between 50 and 69 points. People indicating that students are characterized by a greater level of with a different level of IQ but of the same level of disability exploration than their working peers (Luyckx et al. 2008a). can operate cognitively in ways markedly different from one The analyses were conducted according to a longitudinal another, which can translate into differences in adaptive be- plan, and the most salient portion of their results concerning haviours, participation in social life, etc., and thus also for precisely the formation of identity, and thus its transforma- engaging in exploratory and commitment-related behaviours. tions over time among particular research groups. The results This supposition, however, requires further study. It would indicate differences in respect of the formation of identity also be interesting to empirically investigate the relationship between individuals with ID and their non-disabled peers, between personal identity and disability identity in people but these differences are far smaller and in a different direction with ID. Finally, the work addresses formal indicators of iden- than expected. People with mild ID take on serious life com- tity development – it examines the process of formation, not mitments to a continually increasing degree, and their impres- its content. Whereas neither the identity (nor its development) sion that they have made choices which are right for them of people with mild ID turned out to differ significantly from grows. This means that in spite of limitations in intellectual the identity of their non-disabled peers, there may be impor- functioning, likely different experiences, and difficulties tant differences in the unexplored content of identity. resulting from disability, they prepare for adulthood to a sim- The results would seem to confirm the phenomenon ob- ilar extent as their non-disabled peers. This is a good change, served in other studies of deferring adulthood among people Curr Psychol Dimensions of Identity Development Scale]. Polskie Forum within the intellectual norm. By the same token, if the results Psychologiczne, 15,66–84. of people with mild ID are similar to those among normally Brzezińska, A. I., Czub, T., Czub, M., Kaczan, R., Piotrowski, K., & functioning individuals, this group can also be said to exhibit a Rękosiewicz, M. (2012). Postponed or delayed adulthood? In E. certain delay in identity formation in respect of that observed Nowak, D. E. Schrader, & B. Zizek (Eds.), Educating competencies for democracy (pp. 103–125). Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang in studies conducted several decades ago (e.g. Marcia and Verlag NY. Friedman 1969). However, the question of whether among Carnaby, S., Lewis, P., Martin, D., Naylor, J., & Stewart, D. (2003). these individuals we are dealing with a delay arising out of Participation in transition review meetings: A case study of young socio-cultural changes, or rather for instance restrictions of the people with learning disabilities leaving a special school. British Journal of Special Education, 30,187–193. social environment cannot be answered. Further studies are Cauble, M. (1976). Formal operations, ego identity, and principled mo- vital to seek the social factors which may impact the develop- rality: Are they related? Developmental Psychology, 12,363–364. ment of identity among people with mild ID. Craig, J., Draig, F., Withers, P., Hatton, C., & Limb, K. (2002). Identity conflict in people with intellectual disabilities: What role do service- Acknowledgements This study was funded by National Science Centre providers play in mediating stigma? Journal of Applied Research in in Kraków, Poland (grant number 2012/05/N/HS6/04061). I would like to Intellectual Disabilities, 15,61–72. thank Professor Anna I. Brzezińska (Adam Mickiewicz University, Erikson, E. H. (1950). Childhood and society. New York: Norton. Institute of Psychology, Poznań, Poland), my research project supervisor, Forber-Pratt, A. J., & Zape, M. P. (2017). Disability identity development for her professional guidance and valuable support. model: Voices from the ADA-generation. Disability and Health Journal, 10,350–355. Fo rber-Pratt, A. J., Lyew, D. A., Mueller, C., & Samples, L. B. (2017). Funding This study was funded by National Science Centre in Kraków, Disability identity development: A systematic review of the litera- Poland (grant number 2012/05/N/HS6/04061). ture. 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Published: Jun 2, 2018