Developmental Trajectories of Women's Identity Development

Sarah M. Butterbaugh, Nathan D. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


A substantial amount of identity development scholarship has drawn on the work of Erik Erikson to argue that women resolve stages of identity and intimacy simultaneously, whereas men follow the trajectory originally proposed by Erikson, first resolving the identity stage, then the intimacy stage. Some research has shown that for some women, the identity and intimacy stages appear to be fused; however, other research has shown that many women do follow the traditional Eriksonian progression. We propose a model of identity development for women that maps a trajectory for women who follow Erikson's traditional stages and a relational-identity trajectory characterized by simultaneous resolution of the identity and intimacy stages. Our model synthesizes work by Josselson (1987), Dyk and Adams's (1990) recognition of sex-role identification, Kerpelman and Pittman's (2018) infusion of attachment theory and identity, and Berzonsky's (1990) identity styles. Future research directions are also presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-410
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Family Theory and Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 National Council for Family Relations


  • Attachment
  • developmental theories
  • emerging adulthood
  • identity
  • intimacy
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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