Catholic University Leuven, Belgium

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Nov 16, 2013 (3 years and 9 months ago)

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Time Perspective and Identity Formation:


Short
-
Term
Longitudinal Dynamics in
College Students



Koen Luyckx
1

Willy Lens
2

Ilse Smits
1

Luc Goossens
1


Department of Psychology

Catholic University Leuven, Belgium




1. Center for Developmental Psychology

2.

Research Center for Motivation and Time Perspective



Correspondence concerning this article can be sent to Koen Luyckx, Catholic University of
Leuven, Department of Psychology, Tiensestraat 102, B
-
3000 Leuven, Belgium. E
-
mail:
Koen.Luyckx@psy.kuleuven.be
. The first author is postdoctoral researcher at the Fund for
Scientific Research in Flanders (FWO).





Short title:
Time Perspective and Identity Formation




2





Abstract


P
lanning
for the future
and
dev
eloping a personalized

identity are conceived of as important
developmental tasks adolescents and emerging adults are confronted with

on the pathway to
adulthood. The present study set out to examine whether both
tasks
develop in tandem by using a
short
-
te
rm longitudinal data
-
set consisting of 371 college students assessed at two time
-
points 4
months apart.
Identity formation was assessed using identity commitment and three identity
processing styles underlying identity exploration; time perspective was ass
essed using the present
-
hedonistic, present
-
fatalistic, and future
-
oriented
perspectives.
Using cross
-
lagged structural
equation modeling, three competing models were tested: a time
-
perspective main
-
effects model, an
identity main
-
effects model, and a reci
procal model.
In accordance with expectations, e
vidence
was found for the reciprocal model

with i
dentity
formation

and time perspective

mutually
reinforcing

one

an
other across
time
.
Implications and suggestions for future research are
discussed.



Key word
s: time perspective, future, identity style, explorat
i
on, commitment, cross
-
lagged
analysis












3


Ti
me Perspective and Identity Formation:


Short
-
Term Longitudinal Dynamics in
College Students


Adolescence is typically conceived
of
as the period in lif
e
in which

individuals are
confronted

with developing an integrated and self
-
endorsed identity and making plans and
preparing for the future.

By setting future
-
oriented goals, exploring different identity alternatives,
and committing to certain life paths,

adolescents can direct their own development in their social
world
and negotiate their passage into adulthood
(Erikson, 19
68
; Nurmi, Poole, & Seginer, 1995;
Seginer & Halabi
-
Kheir, 1998).

D
ue to profound social
-
cultural changes occurring the last decades
in many Western nations (
e.g.,

the postponement of the completion of schooling, marriage, and
becoming financially independent
;

Arnett, 2004; Fadjukoff, Kokko, & Pulkkinen, 2007
), the
transition to adulthood is
postponed

for many individuals until the late

twenties
, substantially
p
rolonging the phase of exploration

and preparing for adult roles

(Schwartz, Côté, & Arnett,
2005)
.

Arnett (2000) argued that
, in current industrialized societies, the age period of the late teens
and the twenties constitutes a dis
tinct developmental period demographically, subjectively, and in
terms of identity exploration and planning for the future


a developmental period which he
labeled emerging adulthood.
Inspired by

Eri
kson (1968) and Levinson (1978)

who focused on the
prolo
nged

role experimentation and institutionalized moratorium
in this age period, Arnett stated
that certain developmental tasks coming to the fore in adolescence


with identity formation and
preparing for the future being the
most important ones



further

i
n
tensify

in emerging adulthood,
and especially in the college context. Previous research indeed testified to the importance of
emerging adulthood and the college context in particular

for identity exploration and
future
orientation

(Luyckx, Goossens, & Soe
nens, 2006
; Waterman, 1993
)
.

In sum,

planning for the future and identity
formation

are
conceptualized as

interrelated
dev
e
lopmental tasks adolescents and emerging adults are confronted with (Luyckx et al., 2008;
Marcia, 19
93
; Nurmi et al., 1995
)
.

R
esearch

from a developmental perspective
, however,
focusing

on how individuals’
identity commitments and
specific
styles of approaching the task of identity
exploration

(
referred to as

identity styles; Berzonsky, 1990)

are

related to the degree to which
individua
ls are future
-

versus present
-
oriented

is lacking. Consequently, the present study made
use of a short
-
term longitudinal design
set up
in a sample of college students to examine the extent
to which
these different variables

influence each other across time
. Before we proceed to
our

hypotheses, we will outline
the

theories on identity
formation

and time perspective

as

used in the
present study and
developed, respectively, by Berzonsky (1990) and Zimbardo and Boyd (1999).

Identity
Formation
:
Styles of
Explora
tion and Commitment



4


Inspired by Erikson’s (1968) seminal work on identity
development
throughout the life span,
the processes of identity exploration and commitment have been viewed as crucial dimensions of
personal
identity formation (Grotevant, 1987; Wat
erman, 1999).
Marcia (1966)
was among the
first
to conceptualize

exploration

and
commitment

as two basic
identity
dimensions. He defined
exploration as the degree to which individuals engage in a personal
ized

search for different values,
beliefs, and goals
; commitment was defined as the adherence to a set of convictions, goals, and
beliefs.

By crossing the
se
dimensions, Marcia arrived at four distinct identity statuses or types:
achievement (characterized by making commitments after a period of exploration)
, foreclosure
(characterized by making commitments without a period of prior exploration), moratorium
(characterized by being in an exploratory state without settling into steady commitments yet), and
diffusion (characterized by a general lack of identity
work).


C
ommitment is what tends to separate successful from unsuccessful identity development
(Schwartz

et al.
, 2005)
.
Forming and adhering to stable
and self
-
endorsed
identity commitments is
assumed to nurture feeling
s

of having a
n integrated sense of se
lf (
Côté & Levine, 2002).

Many
studies have indeed found evidence for a positive association between identity commitments and
psychological well
-
being (e.g., Bosma & Kunnen, 2001).

In an attempt to capture the social
-
cognitive processes underlying explorat
ion, Berzonsky (1990) differentiate
d

between three identity
processing styles, that is, the information
-
oriented, normative, and diffuse
-
avoidant styles
,

tap
ping

into
the strategies that
individual
s

prefer
in approaching or avoiding th
e

tasks of constructi
ng and
reconstructing a sense of identity (Berzonsky & Adams, 1999
; Soenens, Berzonsky,
Vansteenkiste, Beyers, & Goossens, 2005
).


First, t
he

information
-
oriented style is typical of individuals who actively construct a sense
of identity by seeking out and

evaluating personally relevant information.
Individuals within
Marcia’s (1966) achievement and moratorium statuses have been found to rely on this style of
identity processing.
These individuals are open to new information, critical towards their self
-
con
cepts, and willing to revise or accommodate their identity when faced with

discrepant
information about themselves. This identity style was found to be positively associated with
problem
-
focused coping strategies, mature interpersonal relationships, empath
y, and
an
autonomous or self
-
determined mode of functioning
, and negatively with il
l
-
being, need for
closure, and social prejudice

(Berzonsky, 1990, 1992; Berzonsky, Nurmi,
Kinney, & Tammi,
1999;
Luyckx et al., 2007; Soenens, Duriez, & Goossens, 2005)
.

Sec
ond, t
he normative style

is typical of individuals who rely strongly on
the prescriptions
and
expectations held by significant others (such as parents or other authority figures) when
confronted with the identity task
, such as those individuals situated in

Marcia’s (1966) foreclosure
status
. These individuals
have rigidly organized identity commitments and they
are

also

“closed”


5


to information that threatens their values and beliefs. As such, they try
blindly
to preserve their
identity comm
i
tments

instead o
f engaging themselves in a profound exploratory process. Although
these individ
u
als
can

experience well
-
be
ing, they have been found to score low on measures of
experiential openness and empathy, and h
igh on measures of conservatism and

prejudice
(Berzonsky
, 1990, 1992; Berzonsky & Kuk, 2000; Soenens, Berzonsky, et al., 2005; Soenens,
Duriez,
et al.
, 2005).


Finally, the diffuse
-
avoidant style

typifies

individuals who avoid dealing with

personal
conflicts and identity
-
relevant problems

until situational dem
ands dictate their behavior. These
individuals accommodate their identity
as a

function of current social demands and consequences,
without arriving at a well
-
stablished sense of identity in the long term.
Such strateg
i
e
s are likely to
result in
the absenc
e of strong and self
-
endorsed identity commitments and
a fragmented and
unintegrated identity structure
, which is likely to result in
a state of

diffusion as outlined by Marcia
(1966)
. Diffuse
-
avoidant
individuals
display low levels of active information p
rocessing
,
conscientiousness,

persistence,
and problem
-
solving coping abilities
, and high levels of
neuroticism, maladaptive coping strategies, and maladjustment

(Berzonsky, 1990, 1992;
Berzonsky & Kuk, 2000; Soenens, Berzonsky, et al., 2005; Soenens, Duri
ez,
et al.
, 2005).


Time Perspective: Being Present
-

Versus Future
-
Oriented

Humans’ perceptions of time and how these perceptions are related to
indicators of
intra
-

and

interindividual functioning have

been studied under the heading of time perspective

(
Lens &
Moreas, 1994)
.
The study of t
ime perspective

draws from cognitive
-
motivational theorizing and
refers to how the flow of human experience is parc
eled into different time frames



being

past,
present, and future



and, as such, looks at the notion of
time as an individualized psychological
phenomenon (
Lens,
1986,
2006;
Nuttin & Lens, 1985; Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999).

Some
individuals
indeed
are better able than others to foresee the future implications of their present
behaviors and
envisage

how their pres
ent behavior can serve the attainment of future goals,
whereas other people rather live in the present and do not anticipate the future consequences of
their present activities (Simons, Vansteenkiste, Lens, & Lacante, 2004).

So, time perspective refers
to
the relative temporal orientation that guides and influ
e
nces individuals’ actions and goals
(Henson, Carey, Carey, & Maisto, 2006).
Zimbardo and colleagues (Keough, Zimbardo, & Boyd,
1999; Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999; Zimbardo, Keough, & Boyd, 1997) specifically

focused on the
extent to which individuals are present
-

versus future
-
oriented and the ramifications these different
motivational
perspectives have on psychosocial functioning and well
-
being.

First
,
individuals with a dominant

present time perspective are

primarily oriented towards the
here
-
and
-
now and are inclined to form goals and adopt behaviors that meet immediate desires.
They are undi
s
tracted by past worries or anxieties b
ut

may also be
un
able to plan a realistic life


6


path.
These i
ndividuals have bee
n found to experience negative outcomes, such as mental health
problems, substance abuse, and juvenile delinquency, especially when they are living in
predominantly future
-
oriented societies

or contexts

(Keough et al., 1999; Zimbardo & Boyd,
1999
)
.
There a
re two
types of being predominantly present
-
oriented
, however, that are
hypothesized to operate differently and to be grounded in different psychological mechanisms.


Individuals with a dominant present
-
hedonistic
time perspective are oriented towards pres
ent
enjoyment and excitement and display a high interest in novelty and
s
ensation seeking. They score
low on ego or impulse control and avoid cost
-
benefit analyses and contingency planning.
Individuals with a dominant present
-
fatalistic orientation, on the

other hand, believe that the future
is predestined and cannot be
controlled or
influenced by individual actions
, resulting in
hopelessness

and amotivation
.
T
hese individuals bear the present with fatalistic resignation, unable
to see themselves as active
agents of their own development (D’Alessio, Guarino, De Pascalis, &
Zimbardo, 2003; Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999
).



Second,
individuals with a dominant
future time perspective
,
by contrast
,

set goals and

plan
strategies for
achieving them and for
meeting ob
ligat
ions in the long term

(Lens & Tsuzuki, 2007)
.
They are more capable than present
-
oriented individuals in articulating and visualizing future
goals and, consequently,
in

restraining themselves
from

engaging in risk
y

behaviors

such as unsafe
sex and substanc
e abuse
. As such, a future time perspective is a cognitive
-
motivational

framework
that
may protect

against impulsive and unhealthy behaviors
in the present
because it increases the
ability to foresee negative consequences of certain actions and behaviors (
Keough et al., 1999).

As
such, these individuals tend to be more succesful than present
-
oriented individuals, both
academically and in their careers

(Simons et al., 2004)
.


In sum, the present and future temporal frames are used by individuals in forming
e
xpectations, goals, and life paths and, as such,
might
enable
them

to build their identity
(D’Alessio et al., 2003; Keough et al., 1999; Nurmi et al., 1995; Seginer, Vermulst, & Shoyer,
2004).
However, r
esearch

that examines

how time perspective

and
identi
ty formation (as assessed
by
identity commitment

and styles)

are developmentally interrelated is lacking.

Hypotheses of the Present Study

T
he present study addressed
two

developmental research questions
with respect to the link
between identity formation a
nd time perspective
in a short
-
term longitudinal
design

using

a sample
of college students.

Research Question
1
: Stability of
Concurrent Associations.

As can be expected based upon
the description of identity styles
,

commitment
,

and the three time perspect
ive scales,
differential
hypotheses with respect to their interrelationships can be
for
mulated
.




7


First,
we hypothesized that the future
-
oriented time perspective would be positively related
to the information
-
oriented identity style and to identity commitm
ent, and negatively to the
diffuse
-
avoidant identity style.

As such, typical features of
being
future
-
oriented
, such as the
consideration of future consequences, high levels of conscientiousness
, efficiency, and ambition
,
and prefer
e
nce for consistency

(Zi
mbardo & Boyd, 1999)
, would translate themselves into a
person
a
lized search for identity options and the ability to make strong and self
-
endorsed identity
commitments.
Similarly,
Luyckx, Soenens, and Goossens (2006) found conscientiousness
(being
strongly
related to a future time perspective
; Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999
)
on the one hand and
identity commitment and indices of adequate identity exploration on the other hand to be
interrelated across time.

The diffuse
-
avoidant style on the other hand might compromis
e goal
setting and planning for the future, hence
its

hypothesized negative association
with future time
perspective
(Kerpelman & Mosher, 2004
; Pulkkinen & Rö
nka, 1994
).



Second, we hypothesized that both present time perspective scales


and especially
t
he
present
-
fatalistic
scale


would be negatively related to the information
-
oriented style and
commitment, and positively to the diffuse
-
avoidant style.

Individuals who are present
-
oriented
either live for pleasure today with little regard for tomorrow (i
n the case of a dominant present
-
hedonistic time
orientation
) or do not believe that anything they will do is likely to make a
difference in their lives (in the case of a dominant present
-
fatalistic orientation). As such, engaging
in a personalized
informa
tion
-
oriented identity
search

or making firm and steady identity
commitments would likely be perceived of as being low in priority for present
-
hedonistic
individuals or as simply being unattainable for present
-
fatalistic individuals.
Both these

present
tim
e perspective scales would be more likely to be positively related to the diffuse
-
avoidant style,
being indicative of people who postpone identity work and avoid dealing with identity issues,
leaving them diffused about the direction their lives ha
ve

to ta
ke.

Further
, we hypothesize
d

that these
predicted

relationships between identity
styles and
commitment
on the one hand
and
time perspective

on the other hand
would

be
relatively
equivalent across
the two waves of the present short
-
term longitudinal study
.


With respect to the link between time perspective and the normative style, our
expectations

were less clear. If any, we expected that the normative identity style (which is characteristic of
individuals who attach high value
to

the norms and prescription
s upheld by
significant
others)
would be positively related to the future time perspective, given that
the
college context strong
ly
emphasizes

academic and future achievement

(as most parents of college
-
attending youth are

also

likely to do)
.
Relatedly
, we

expected that the normative style would be negatively related to the
present
-
he
donistic time perspective scale.
Previous research (e.g., Marcia, 1993)
also
pointed to
negative associations between the normative style and the foreclosure
-
status on the one
hand and


8


substance
ab
use on the other hand, the latter being a possible instantiation of
such
a present
-
hedonistic lifestyle

(Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999)
.


Research Question
2
:
Longitudinal
Cross
-
Lagged Associations
.

These
concurrent
relations
and the stabi
lity therein are hypothesized to be reflective of developmental associations that would
appear


at least to some extent


in
cross
-
lagged
analyses

aimed at substantiating the direction of
effects in the link between these two sets of constructs
.

Three com
peting cross
-
lagged models
looking at independent associations of the three time perspective scales
were tested in the present
study: a time
-
perspective main
-
effects model, an identity main
-
effects model, and a reciprocal
model.

The time
-
perspective main
-
e
ffects model assumes that one’s current time perspective
influences or drives developmental changes in identity styles and commitment.

S
everal authors
(Boniwell & Zimbardo, 2004;
Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999)
indeed
state
d

that time perspective can
become a dispo
sitional characteristic which influences individual choices, actions, and decisions

and, as such, can be a
p
re
re
quisite to start building one’s identity
.

A concrete instantiation of this
model would be, for instance, that a future time perspective positive
ly predicts the use of the
information
-
oriented identity style across time.
In support of this model, Lennings (1998)
classified a future time perspective as part of
an

actualizer profile
, with

being oriented towards the
future positively influencing

self
-
actualisation and identity development.

The identity main
-
effects model, on the other hand, assumes than one’s current state of
identity formation influences developmental changes in time perspective.

As noted earlier, ti
me
perspective
is likely to be inf
luenced by several factors, such as one’s life course
and identity
development throughout different contexts

(
Aspinwall, 2005;
Boniwell & Zimbardo, 2004
;
Kerpelman & Mosher, 2004
).

A concrete instantiation of this model would be, for instance, that
the use

of the information
-
oriented identity style positively predicts a future time perspective
across time.

When individuals are exploring different identity alternatives, this
exploration
implies
that they are motivated to decide who they might become in the f
uture, hence broadening their
time perspective into the future (Kerpelman & Mosher, 2004).


When analyzing the premises of both the
time
-
perspective main
-
effects model

and the
identity main
-
effects model
, it becomes clear that these models are not mutuall
y exclusive. Their
integration gives rise to a third, more complex model,

the reciprocal model,
which
assum
es

that

identity
formation
and
time perspective

develop as part of a transactional system with both
mechanisms influencing and reinforcing each other

(Caspi & Roberts, 1999
; Nuttin & Lens, 1985
;
Seginer & Noyman, 2005
).

As such, based on extant theoretical literature and on the existence of
bidirectional associations found between identity and several personality constructs (e.g., Luyckx,


9


Soenens,
et a
l.
, 2006), we hypothesized that the reciprocal model would be substantiated by our
longitudinal data and would provide the best fit to the data.


Method

Participants and Procedure

Two
-
wave l
ongitudinal data
(
with
the two

waves being
four months apart)
were

collected at
a university in Flanders, the Dutch
-
speaking part of Belgium. This university mainly attracts
Caucasian students from middle
-
class backgrounds.

Participation in the study was voluntary,
anonymity was guaranteed, and participants received cour
se credit for attending the group testing
sessions.

The sample at Time 1
(i.e., November 2007)
consisted of 371 freshman students (77.5%
women) from the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences
.

Mean age was 18.25 years (
SD

= 1.26).
At Time 2,
a subg
roup of
309 of them participated again (
representing an
83%
participation rate).

Participants with and without complete data were compared using Little’s (1988) Missing
Completely At Random (MCAR) test. A nonsignificant test statistic suggests that missin
g values
can

be reliably estimated.
W
e obtained
such
a nonsignificant chi
-
square value for this test,
χ
² (
32
)
=
5.
7
3
,
ns
.

Consequently, t
o minimize the bias associated with attrition and missing data

(Schafer
& Graham, 2002)
, we used the expectation maximi
zation (EM) algorithm
available in SPSS 11.5
to impute missing data

enabling us to perform all primary analyse
s

on the full sample of 371
participants
.

Measures

Identity styles and commitment.

We used the Identity Style Inventory


Version
4 (ISI
-
4;
Smits
et al., 2008) to measure the three identity styles
(i.e., information
-
oriented, normative, and
diffuse
-
avoidant styles)
and commitment.
Sample items are “When facing a life decision, I take
into account different points of view before making a choice” (inf
ormation
-
oriented; 7 items), “I
think it is better to adopt a firm set of beliefs than to be open
-
minded” (normative; 8 items), “I’m
not sure where I’m heading in my life; I gue
s
s things will work themselves out” (dif
f
use
-
avoidant;
9 items), and “I know
ba
sically what I believe and don’t believe
” (commitment; 9 items).
Participants responded to each item using a 5
-
point scale ranging from 1 (
Not at all like me
) to 5
(
Very much like me
).

Smits and colleagues (2008) demonstrated that the ISI
-
4

scales

had
acce
ptable internal reliabilities, high one
-
week
test
-
retest reliabilities
, and adequate convergent
validity with measures of identity status and

identity content emphasis.

In the present sample,
C
ronbach’s alphas for information
-
oriented, normative, diffuse
-
a
voidant
, and commitment

were
.78, .74,
.77, and .79, respectively, at Time 1 and .79, .67, .77, and .84, respectively, at Time 2.


Confirmatory
F
actor Analysis (CFA)
was used to check the factor structure of the ISI
-
4
across

both waves
.

For each latent var
iable, three parcels were created in a random fashion
and



10


served as indicators of the latent variables
(Marsh, Hau, Balla, & Grayson, 1998)
.
Covariances
between errors of the same
parcels

across the two
waves

were allowed

(Wiley & Wiley, 1974).

In
all of t
he models estimated, we used standard model fit indices (Kline, 2006). The chi
-
square
index, which tests the null hypothesis of perfect fit to the data, should be as small as possible; the
Root Mean Square Error of Approximation (RMSEA) should be less than

.08; and the
Comparative Fit Index (CFI) should exceed .90 and preferably .95. Because preliminary analyses
indicated some non
-
normality in the data, the Satorra
-
Bentler (1994) scaled chi
-
square statistic
(SBS
-
χ
²) was used.
The model
comprising the three
identity styles and commitment

at both
measurement waves

provided an adequate fit to the data (
SBS
-
χ
² (
212
) =
340.77
, RMSEA = .0
4
,
CFI = .9
7)
.


Additionally, the factor loadings of the same indicator variables were constrained as equal
across time to asses
s measurement invariance across time (Marsh, 1994). The null hypothesis of
invariance across time would be rejected if at least two of the following criteria were satisfied
(Vandenberg & Lance, 2000): Δ
SBS
-
χ
²

significant at
p

< .05;

ΔCFI equals or is great
er than .01;
and
the change in
non
-
normed fit index (
Δ
NNFI) equals or is greater than .02. Although the NNFI
was not used here to evaluate the fit of a single model, it is extremely sensitive to small deviations
or differences in model fit and is a useful
tool in invariance testing (Little, 1997). As indicated by
the invariance test, the more parsimonious invariant model (
SBS
-
χ
² (
224
) =
379.60
, RMSEA = .0
4
,
CFI = .9
7)

fit
the data
equally well, Δ
SBS
-
χ
²

(12) = 42.09,
p

< .001; ΔCFI < .01; and ΔNNFI <
.01.


Time perspective.

We used the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory (ZTPI; Zimbardo &
Boyd, 1999) to assess the present
-
hedonistic, present
-
fatalistic, and future time perspectives.
Sample items are “I believe that getting together with one’s friends to part
y is one of life’s
important pleasures” (present
-
hedonistic; 1
5

items), “
Fate determines much in my life” (present
-
fatalistic;
9

items), and “I believe that a person’s day should be planned ahead each morning”
(future; 1
3

items). Participants indicated th
e extent to which each item characterizes them on
a 5
-
point scale ranging from 1 (
Very uncharacteristic
) to 5 (
Very
characteristic
).

Cronbach’s alphas
for
present
-
hedonistic, present
-
fatalistic, and future

were .78, .
6
7
,
and .7
1
, respectively, at Time 1
an
d .
79
, .6
9
, and .
7
2
, respectively, at Time 2.

CFA was again used to check the factor structure of the ZTPI across both waves. For each
latent variable, three parcels were created in a random fashion which served as indicators and
c
ovariances between errors

of the same
parcels

across the two
waves

were allowed.

The model
comprising the three
perspectives

at both measurement waves
provided an adequate fit to the data
(
SBS
-
χ
² (
111)

=
126.83
, RMSEA = .0
2
, CFI = .9
9)
.

The factor loadings of the same indicator
va
riables were again constrained as equal across time to assess measurement invariance. As


11


indicated by the invariance test, the more parsimonious invariant model (
SBS
-
χ
² (
120
) =
137.46
,
RMSEA = .0
2
, CFI = .9
9) fit the data equally well, Δ
SBS
-
χ
²

(9) = 11.
87
,

p

= .2
2
; ΔCFI < .01; and
ΔNNFI < .01.


Results

Stability and Mean
-
Level Changes

Table 1 presents
both
the
rank
-
order
stability coefficients (i.e.
,

the correlation between a
variable assessed at
the
two adjacent time points) and mean
-
level changes in al
l study variables
from Time 1 to
T
ime 2. First, the stability coefficients for time perspective ranged from .58 to .70
(all
p
s < .001), whereas the stability coefficients for identity were somewhat lower and ranged
from .47 to .59 (all
p
s < .001). Second,
two sets (i.e., one for time perspective and one for identity

styles and commitment
) of multivariate repeated measures of
ANOVA

were conducted to asses
mean
-
level changes across time.
Overall multivariate effects of time perspective (Wilks’
λ

= .9
2
;
F

(3, 368) =
11.19
;
p

< .001,
η
2

= .0
8
) and identity (Wilks’
λ

= .93;
F

(3, 368) = 7.01;
p

< .001,
η
2

=
.07)

were
significant
.

Table
1

presents all follow
-
up univariate analyses for the
two

significant
multivariate effects obtained.

The
p
resent
-
he
donistic and present
-
fatalistic
perspectives

decreased
across time, whereas the future
perspective
, information
-
oriented identity style, and commitment
increased across time.
Additional analyses with gender as a between
-
subjects factor indicated that
stabi
lity and change in
identity styles and commitment

(Wilks’
λ

= .9
8
;
F

(
4
, 36
5
) =
1.52
;
p

= .
19
,
η
2

= .0
2
)
and in time perspective
(Wilks’
λ

= .9
9
;
F

(3, 366) =
0.
65
;
p

= .
59
,
η
2

= .0
1
)

were not

moderated by gender.


Correlational Analyses

Table 2 presents the correlations among all study variables at Times 1 and
2. As
could be
expected

based upon the literature
, the present
-
hedonistic and present
-
fatalistic
perspectives

(which were positively interrelated) were negatively related to the future
perspective

in

both
waves
. Commitment was positively related to informa
tion
-
oriented style and negatively to diffuse
-
avoidant style at both waves, with the latter being negatively related to the information
-
oriented
style and positively to the normative style.
As expected
,
the present
-
hedonistic perspective was
positively rel
ated

to the

diffuse
-
avoidant style, the present fatalistic perspective was
negatively
related to information
-
oriented style and commitment, and positively to diffuse
-
avoidant style, and
the future orientation was positively related to commitment and inform
ation
-
oriented style, and
negatively to diffuse
-
avoidant style.

A

c
ompar
ison

between
a model with these correlations
left
free to vary across time against a
model with these correlations constrained equal across time


as outlined by
Robins, Fraley,
Rober
ts, and Trzesniewski (2001)



indicated

that
some of
the associations among identity and
time perspective

were significantly different across time,
Δ
SBS
-
χ
² (
12
) =
30.96
,
p
< .01; ΔCFI =


12


.01; and ΔNNFI > .02
.

Ancillary analyses indicated



althoug
h differen
ces were limit
ed


that
the
correlations between the present
-
fatalistic
perspective

and identity were somewhat different across
time

(
Δ
SBS
-
χ
² (
4
) =
16.93
,
p
< .01; ΔCFI = .01; and ΔNNFI > .02
).

The correlations between the
present
-
hedonistic
perspective

an
d identity (Δ
SBS
-
χ
²

(4) = 3.74,
p

= .44; ΔCFI < .01; and ΔNNFI
< .01) and between the future
perspective

and identity (Δ
SBS
-
χ
²

(4) = 4.77,
p

= .31; ΔCFI < .01;
and ΔNNFI = .01) did not differ substantially across time.


Cross
-
Lagged Analyses

Three subs
equent models (i.e., a time
-
perspective main
-
effects model, an identity main
-
effects model, and a reciprocal model)
using path analysi
s with Structural Equa
tion Modeling
(SEM) were

tested
.
In all cross
-
lagged models being tested, all synchronous or within
-
time
associations at Times 1 and 2 and all stability coefficients were controlled for (Asendorpf & van
Aken, 2003).

Fit indices of all models being tested are reported in Table 3.

The baseline model including all synchronous relations and all stability coe
fficients (i.e.,
Model 1) was estimated and provided an adequate fit to the data (
SBS
-
χ
² (
42
) =
108.35
, RMSEA =
.0
7
, CFI = .9
7
). Second, we estimated the time
-
perspective main
-
effects model (i.e., Model 2) in
which all paths from time perspective to
identi
ty commtiment and
the three identity styles were
allowed.
Five

of the
se

paths were significant. The present
-
hedonistic perspective negatively
predicted

the normative style,
the present
-
fatalistic perspective positively predicted the diffuse
-
avoidant style,

and, finally,

the future
-
oriented perspective positively
predicted

the

information
-
oriented style
and identity commitment,
and neg
atively the diff
use
-
avoidant style. The remaining
paths were trimmed from the model, resulting in the more parsimonious Model

3. Third, the
identity main
-
effects model was estimated (i.e., Model 4), in which all the paths from the three
identity styles to
the three
time perspective
scales
were allowed. Four of these paths were
significant. The information
-
oriented style
and iden
tity commitment
positively
predicted

the
future
-
oriented perspective,
identity commitment negatively predicted the present
-
hedonistic
perspective, and, finally,
the diffuse
-
avoidant style
positively

predicted

the
present
-
fatalistic

perspective. The remaini
ng paths were trimmed from the model, resulting in the more
parsimonious Model
5
.

Finally, the Reciprocal model (i.e.,

Model 6), in which all these si
gnificant
paths are combined, provided the
best

fit to the data (
SBS
-
χ
² (
3
3
) =
59.10
, RMSEA = .0
5
, CFI =
.
9
9
).

Figure 1 represents a graphical presentation of Model 6. For reasons of clarity, all
synchronous associations, stability coefficients, and non
-
significant cross
-
lagged paths are omitted

from the figure
.


To assess whether the structural relationships
in
M
odel
6
were invariant across gender, a
multigroup analysis was performed. As part of this analysis, we compared a constrained model
(with all
cross
-
lagged
path coefficients set as equal across gender) against an unconstrained model


13


(with all
cross
-
lagg
ed
path coefficients allowed to vary across gender). No significant difference
emerged

SBS
-
χ
²

(8) = 6.29,
p

= .61; ΔCFI < .01; and ΔNNFI < .01)

indicating that the model fit
equally well for men and for women.

Discussion

The present study was the first t
o examine longitudinal associations between the identity
styles and commitment on the one hand and present and future time perspective orientat
i
ons

on the
other hand.

College students were sampled given that identity formation and preparing for the
future
and adult roles
come to the fore
and
further
intensify
in emerging adulthood and especially
in the college context.

Our results
illustrated

that identity formation and time perspective are
interdependent developmental processes mutually reinforcing one ano
ther across time.


Development and Longitudinal Associations

Although time perspective is hypothesized to be a fundamental psychological process
acquired at an early age through cultural, psychosocial, and family influences, continuous
development is hypot
hesized to occur due to contextual influences and the resolution of
simultaneous developmental tasks (Hulbert & Lens, 1988; Lens & Gailly, 1980; Nurmi, 1991,
1994).
For instance, the college context


being a primarily future
-
oriented context


may

stimula
te
being
future
-
oriented
and
lead to decreases in both present
-
oriented time perspectives.
Despite the short time interval between both measurement waves in the present study,
the
freshman students

of

the present sample indeed became more future
-
oriented a
nd less present
-
oriented (and especially less present
-
fatalistic oriented) across time.
Similarly, previous research
indicated that the college context with its numerous alternatives and possible life paths can foster
and stimulate identity exploration and

commitment (Luyckx, Goossens, et al., 2006; Montgomery
& Côté, 2003).
Individuals in the present sample

indeed

became more information
-
oriented
(indicative of an increasing amount of pro
-
active identity exploration)
and were more able to form
steady and s
elf
-
endorsed commitments

across time
.
Apparently
,

the
se

first
-
year
college students
seemed to be increasingly preparing themselves for their academic career and future adult roles by
tackling self
-
defining identity issu
e
s more pro
-
actively across time and
by
extending

their time
perspective well into the future.

Further
, the concurrent associations and cross
-
lagged effects
pointed to important developmental mechanisms which were supported with various degrees of
convergence
between

the
two sets of

analyses
conducted.


Substantial

concurrent associations and reciprocal influences.
At both time points, future
time perspective was positively related to identity commitment and the information
-
oriented style.
Further, these two sets of variables were reciprocally

interrelated across time with future t
ime
per
s
p
ective positively predicting

commitment and the information
-
oriented style, and
vice versa.
T
he present
-
fatalistic time perspective was positively related to the diffuse
-
avoidant style at both


14


time points and

both these variables were

also

reciprocally related

across time with the present
-
fatali
stic time perspective positively predicting the diffuse
-
avoidant style, and vice versa.

Apparently, the goal
-
directed and efficient work style of future
-
oriented indivi
duals
characterized
by a tendency to invest in the con
s
truction of the
individual
future
goes hand in hand with pro
-
active identity exploration and the formation of identity commitments over time.

A present
-
fatalistic orientation, on the other hand, is dev
elopmentally linked to the use of a diffuse
-
avoidant
style.

Individuals scoring high on the diffuse
-
avoidant style view
t
h
e
mselves

as being
predetermined by fate and factors over which they have little control; they ground their sense of
self in immediate
considerations, such as reputation and impressions on others. Similarly,
Bohart
(1993) already argued that being future oriented
with its internal locus of control


as opposed to
the present
-
fatalistic time orientation which is characterized by an externa
l locus of control and
amotivation
-

is a fundamental asset for human development, allowing for
opportunities
,
a sense of

agen
cy
,
and
the
making
of
choices.





Substantial

concurrent associations and unidirectional influences.

In line with the arguments
forwarded by Bohart (1993), f
uture time perspective was negatively related to the diffuse
-
avoidant
style at both time points and negatively predicted the diffuse
-
avoidant style across time.
Further
, a
t
Time 2, the present
-
hedonistic time perspective scale
was negatively related to the normative style
and identity commitment.
W
hereas the present
-
hedonistic scale was found to negatively predict the
normative style across time

in the longitudinal analyses
, commitment was found to negatively
predict the present
-
hedonistic scale across time.

Apparently, making strong identity commitments
negatively predicted a dominant reliance on
merely
enjoying the present and living for the
moment. By deciding on which path one’s life has to take, individuals seem to be protec
ted against
an overreliance on thrill
or sensation
seeking and hedonistic values. A present
-
hedonistic time
perspective, in turn, negatively predicted accom
m
odating to the norms and prescriptions upheld by
others in the quest for one’s identity, probably g
iven the fact that
indulging oneself in a present
-
hedonistic lifestyle is at odds with the expectations upheld by the academic setting and by parents,
who are most likely to emphasize future
-
oriented goals and aspirations.



Substantial c
oncurrent associa
tions.

Finally, stable concurrent associations were found
which did not appear as cross
-
lagged effects.
At both time points, the diffuse
-
avoidant style was
positively related to the present
-
hedonistic perspective

(besides its positive correlation with the
present
-
fatalistic perspective as described earlier)
. Apparently, using a diffuse
-
avoidant style
is
associated with

both
an unbothered or pleasure
-
seeking approach strongly grounded in the present
as well as
with

feelings of hopelessness with respect to th
e future. Luyckx, Goossens, Soenens,
Beyers, and Vansteenkiste (2005) made a distinction within Marcia’s (1966) diffusion status that
resembles
this pattern of associations
. Individuals in the carefree diffusion status quite liked their


15


uncommitted identit
y state, whereas individuals in the diffused diffusion status were characterized
by maladjustment due to their lack of identity work. Future research should investigate whether
individuals in carefree diffusion would be mainly characterized by a present
-
he
donistic
orientation, whereas individuals in diffused diffusion would be mainly characterized by a present
-
fatalistic orientation.

At both time points, the present
-
fatalistic time perspective was

negatively related, as
expected,
to both the information
-
ori
ented style and identity commitment.

In general
, present
-
fatalistic individuals feel helpless and hopeless

(Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999)
,
which could leave them
unmotivated to tackle identity
-
relevant issues.

Further, the future time perspective scale was found
to be positively related to the normative style, although not as strong as to the information
-
oriented
style or to identity commitment.

A
pparently, being in a future
-
or
i
e
nted context such as the college
setting could lead normative individuals to adopt a f
uture
-
oriented time perspective, although not
as self
-
endorsed and profound as information
-
oriented individuals do

(as illustrated by the modest
concurrent associations and the lack of cross
-
lagged associations between the normative style and
future time p
erspective)
.

Limitations and Suggestions for Future Research

The present study shows a number of limitations which need to be remedied in future
research. First, with respect to the measurement of time perspective, the present study focused only
on the pre
sent and future time perspective and no attention was paid to the past orientation.
Although most research focused only on the present and future time perspective (Zimbardo &
Boyd, 1999), the distinction between the past
-
positive and past
-
negative time per
spective might
prove to be fruitful in the study of identity formation. For instance, individuals who are
characterized mainly by a past
-
negative time perspective (which is characterized by a worrisome,
negative, and aversive view of the past) might be hin
dered in their pro
-
active search for a
personalize
d

identity (Luyckx et al., 2008).
Or, one would expect normative individuals, being
strongly focused
on

referent groups, to be past
-
oriented and to use well
-
established traditions and
rules as a reference f
rame.
Narrative identity research already emphasized the importance of the
past in identity construction by stating that individuals build and internalize life stories to integrate
the reconstructed past and the imagined future which provides life with pur
pose, meaning, and
coherence.
As such, narrative identity plays a key role in well
-
being and happinness (Bauer,
McAdams, & Pals, 2008).
Further,
the use of all three time perspective scales (i.e., past, present,
and future) would allow
researchers to link

identity formation to the balanced time perspective
con
s
truct
, which is characteristic of individuals scoring moderate to high on the past
-
positive,
present
-
hedonistic, and future time pers
pectives, and, as such, is hypothesized to be the most


16


optimal outl
ook on psychological time (Drake, Duncan, Sutherland, Abernethy, & Henry, 2008;
Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999).

Second,
the present sample represented a
predominantly
female student population with a
particular background (i.e., students in Psychology and Educatio
nal sciences). Therefore, we can

not state with certainty that our findings can be generalized to populations with another
educational background. Further, we can

not generalize our findings to
individuals

beyond the age
range examined.
As such, r
esearch u
nits from other cultures working with diverse populations of
adolescents are encouraged to focus on similar research questions.

For instance, previous research
indicated that a future time perspective was positively related to higher socio
-
economic status
and
higher education (Aspinwall, 2005; Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999).

Given the developmental
associations obtained in the present
study
, such findings
emphasize the need

to chart the process of
identity formation in less
-
privileged youth
around the globe
and the

barriers they face (
Galambos
& Martínez, 2007;
Schwartz, 2005;
Yoder, 2000).



Third
,
all measures were self
-
administered questionnaires. Although questionnaires are most
appropriate to gather information about internal and subjective processes such as i
dentity
development and
time perspective
,
it should be noted that the sole reliance on a single informant
may artificially inflate correlations among constructs (Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Lee, & Podsakoff,
2003)
.

Finally
,
the time
-
span under consideration was
relatively short. Given that major
developmental changes in both time perspective and identity formation are likely to occur only in
the long run, long
-
term longitudinal research is needed
that tracks

time perspective and identity
formation from early to m
id
-
adolescence through emerging adulthood well into the adult years.

Such research would do well to investigate how such changes in time perspective and identity
relate to psychosocial outcomes, such as self
-
esteem, depression, drug use, and sexual risk ta
king,
and to include additional variables (e.g., the Big Five of personality) that might influence the
covariation between time perspective and identity formation
.


Despite these limitations,
we believe that the present results broaden our knowledge of
col
lege student
s’ psychological functioning by indicating how one’s outlook on psychological
time is related to how one undertakes the process of identity formation.

Given that both are
conceived of as core developmental tasks young people face in today’s soc
iety, we encourage
researchers from different cultural backgrounds to examine similar research questions in
different

populations and settings.







17


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23


Table 1

Mean
-
Level Changes and Stability Coefficients of Time Perspective and Identity Formation

Variable

r

(T1, T
2)

M

(
SD
)

T
1

M

(
SD
)

T
2

F
(eta²)

1. Present
-
hedonistic perspective

.6
8
***

3.4
1

(.4
5
)

3.
36

(.4
4
)

5.
77
* (.01)

2. Present
-
fatalistic perspective

.58***

2.
86

(.4
9
)

2.
78

(.
49
)

11.38
*** (.03)

3. Future
-
oriented perspective

.70***

3.
27

(.4
5
)

3.
36

(.4
6
)

21.09
***

(.0
5
)

4. Commitment

.59***

3.46 (.55)

3.54 (.52)

8.81** (.02)

5
. Information
-
oriented style

.51***

3.93 (.46)

4.04 (.45)

21.38*** (.06)

6
. Normative style

.47***

2.62 (.53)

2.59 (.43)

1.52 (< .01)

7
. Diffuse
-
avoidant style

.57***

2.57 (.59)

2.54 (.50
)

1.55 (< .01)

Note
.
r

(T1, T2) = stability coefficient from T(ime) 1 to T(ime)
2;

M

= mean;
SD

= standard
deviation.

*
p

< .05. **
p

< .01. ***
p

< .001.


24


Table 2

Correlations Between Time Perspective and Identity Formation at Times 1 and 2

Variable

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

1. Present
-
hedonistic perspective

--

.3
2
***

-
.3
7
***

-
.0
4

.01

-
.07

.
20
**

2. Present
-
fatalistic perspective

.4
3
***

--

-
.
29
***

-
.32***

-
.1
4
*

.09

.47***

3. Future
-
oriented perspective

-
.39
***

-
.
27
***

--

.
29
***

.44
***

.13*

-
.3
3
***

4. Commitm
ent

-
.11*

-
.1
6
**

.3
4
***

--

.20***

-
.08

-
.48***

5. Information
-
oriented style

-
.0
7

-
.19
**

.35
***

.3
4
***

--

.07

-
.24***

6. Normative style

-
.12
*

.0
5

.1
2
*

-
.02

-
.03

--

.24***

7. Diffuse
-
avoidant style

.21
***

.31***

-
.36
***

-
.49
***

-
.42***

.23***

--

Note
.

Values above the diagional are from Time 1, values below the diagonal
are
from Time 2.

*
p

< .05. **
p

< .01. ***
p

< .001.


25


Table 3

Fit Indices of the Various Models Tested

Model Description

Fit Indices


df

SBS
-
χ²

RMSEA

CFI

NNFI

Model 1: Baseline model

42

108.35

.07

.97

.9
4

Model 2: Time
-
perspective main
-
effects model

30

69.52

.06

.98

.9
5

Model 3: Trimmed Model 2

37

75.82

.0
5

.98

.9
6

Model 4: Identity main
-
effects model

30

88.52

.0
7

.9
8

.9
3

Model 5: Trimmed Model 4

38

91.95

.0
6

.9
8

.94

Model 6: Reci
procal model

33

59.10

.05

.99

.97

Note.
d
f

= degrees of freedom; SBS
-
χ
² = Satorra
-
Bentler Scaled chi
-
square; RMSEA = Root Mean
Square Error of Approximation; CFI = Comparative Fit Index
;
NNFI =
Non
-
Normed Fit Index
.

The NNFi was not used to evaluate the model fit of
signle

models but was used to assess the
differences in mo
del fit between subsequent models.



26


Figure captions

Figure 1.

Final cross
-
lagged path model linking time perspective to identity

commitment and

exploration
styles. Within
-
time correlations and stability coefficients are not presented for reasons of clarity
.
All path coefficents are standardized.

*
p

< .05. **
p

< .01. ***
p

< .001.

















27


Figure 1.






































.09
*

Information
-
o
riented style

Information
-
oriented style

Normative

style

Normative

style

Time 1

Time 2

Diffuse
-

a
voidant style

Diffuse
-

a
voidant style

Commitment


Present
-
hedonistic



Present
-
hedonistic


Present
-

fatalistic

Present
-

fatalistic


Future
-

oriented

Future
-

oriented

.12
*

-
.12*

.18
***

-
.08*

.10*

.10
*

.10
*

-
.18
***

Commitment