Assessment of identity development and identity diffusion in adolescence - Theoretical basis and psychometric properties of the self-report questionnaire AIDA
1 Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Hospital, Psychiatric University Hospitals Basel, Basel, Switzerland
2 Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, USA
3 Practice for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Frankfurt/Germany, and University of Applied Sciences FHNW, Basel, Switzerland
4 Faculty of Medicine, Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health 2012, 6:27 doi:10.1186/1753-2000-6-27Published: 19 July 2012
In the continuing revision of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V) “identity” is integrated as a central diagnostic criterion for personality disorders (self-related personality functioning). According to Kernberg, identity diffusion is one of the core elements of borderline personality organization. As there is no elaborated self-rating inventory to assess identity development in healthy and disturbed adolescents, we developed the AIDA (Assessment of Identity Development in Adolescence) questionnaire to assess this complex dimension, varying from “Identity Integration” to “Identity Diffusion”, in a broad and substructured way and evaluated its psychometric properties in a mixed school and clinical sample.
Test construction was deductive, referring to psychodynamic as well as social-cognitive theories, and led to a special item pool, with consideration for clarity and ease of comprehension. Participants were 305 students aged 12–18 attending a public school and 52 adolescent psychiatric inpatients and outpatients with diagnoses of personality disorders (N = 20) or other mental disorders (N = 32). Convergent validity was evaluated by covariations with personality development (JTCI 12–18 R scales), criterion validity by differences in identity development (AIDA scales) between patients and controls.
AIDA showed excellent total score (Diffusion: α = .94), scale (Discontinuity: α = .86; Incoherence: α = .92) and subscale (α = .73-.86) reliabilities. High levels of Discontinuity and Incoherence were associated with low levels in Self Directedness, an indicator of maladaptive personality functioning. Both AIDA scales were significantly different between PD-patients and controls with remarkable effect sizes (d) of 2.17 and 1.94 standard deviations.
AIDA is a reliable and valid instrument to assess normal and disturbed identity in adolescents. Studies for further validation and for obtaining population norms are in progress and may provide insight in the relevant aspects of identity development in differentiating specific psychopathology and therapeutic focus and outcome.