A person’s identity consists of these major categories:
- Cultural/Ethnic identity is the influence a person acquires by belonging to a certain culture or group. It can be a large group such as “American” or a smaller group, “Italian”. It includes a collective history, a common genealogy or ancestry, shared values, the foods you eat and the language you speak. Painful issues surrounding identification with a minority subculture, such as racism and inequality, can lead some minority adolescents to avoid the issue and may not show any interest in their racial or cultural background. Interactions with other members of the same culture, and attendance at religious services or cultural celebrations, can increase the adolescents' knowledge and encourage a sense of pride in their ethnic background. Achieving a positive ethnic identity’ is associated with higher self-esteem and better grades, as well as better relations with family and friends.
- Religious identity is the set of philosophies, practices and rituals related to a common faith and beliefs about the design and purpose of humankind. This identity formation begins with association in the parents' religious group, and the adolescent has the choice to adopt the same, or different, religious identity.
- Gender identity refers to the cultural concepts of masculinity and femininity. It is how a person identifies with one gender or another. This is distinct from physical sex and sexuality'.
- Sexual identity is developed during adolescence as a teen experiences puberty' and sexual attraction. The development of a healthy sexual identity' includes curiosity' about sex, flirting, open communication and emotional maturity.
Identity' development is ultimately the result of a lifelong journey. The person that we ultimately become is unique, however the process by which identity develops is similar among individuals. Although identity development is most often associated with adolescence, each developmental stage offers opportunities for reevaluation and change.