Identity across time: How to conceptualize and study identity on different time scales


It is well established that identity develops across time. It has been observed to develop across years, but also months, weeks, and even from minute to minute. As we proceed in our research we have arrived at a point where we are trying to understand identity as a real-time process. Two big challenges now lie before us, and we want to address these in this webinar.

The first is: how do we conceptualize identity on different time-scales? The timescale at which  one studies identity informs the way that it is conceptualized. To form a more complete understanding of identity, we need to clarify the specific conceptions of identity at each timescale. In addition, to further insights on identity and its development researchers need to map out how conceptions of identity at different timescale relate to one another. The second is: how do we measure or assess identity at different timescales? Because of a recent emphasis to conceptualize identity at an increasingly small time-scale, it has become obvious that we need to move beyond purely quantitative approaches and include qualitative aspects of identity in our measurements. But this may be easier said than done: research on identity development needs to determine how and when to assess these qualitative aspects, but also to determine when measuring quantitative aspects is (more) appropriate, and how to combine qualitative and quantitative approaches.

This webinar is about addressing these challenges, as a follow-up on the EARA symposium “New developments in identity theory: incorporating micro-level aspects and qualitative aspects”. We want to illustrate different ways through which you can conceptualize and empirically measure identity, using examples of empirical studies on four time scales: from the very small second-by-second interaction, via weekly dynamics, through a process spanning months, and ultimately years. The webinar will provide a theoretical discussion and integration of identity concepts, as well as empirical hands-on demonstrations with different approaches to studying identity.

Workshop organizers

Ole Gmelin is a fourth-year PhD candidate at the department of Developmental Psychology at the University of Groningen. He is interested in the way that social contexts influence identity development and specifically how these processes can be studied within everyday micro-level interactions. In addition to narrative methodologies, his research uses a combination of discourse analytic methods and time-serial approaches to understand the development of identity content in context.

Yannick Vincent is a third-year PhD candidate at the University of Bordeaux, France. He is currently studying the role of daily emotional experiences on micro-level of identity at emerging adulthood. He mainly focuses on intra-individual and dynamic system approaches to understand identity mechanisms.

Lisanne de Moor is a third-year PhD candidate at Utrecht University. She studies the development of identity and narrative identity across moments of transition or change in adolescence. She is also interested in the intersection of identity and pathology. Lisanne is part of the larger INTRANSITION project that examines identity development across school transitions, and is involved with the European Journal of Personality as Research Communications Editor.

Mandy van der Gaag is assistant professor at the department of Developmental Psychology at the University of Groningen, she obtained her PhD in 2017. She is interested in fundamental theoretical questions on for example identity development and major life decision making, but also in practical questions concerning youth transitions, such as school dropout.