Y Studios — INSIGHTS | People | Y Studios — What Factors Really Influence Identity? (2024)


What factors influence identity formation? In a sense, every stimulus we experience consciously and subconsciously throughout our lives has an impact on the way we and society create and label our identities. Identity formation and evolution are impacted by a variety of internal and external factors like society, family, loved ones, ethnicity, race, culture, location, opportunities, media, interests, appearance, self-expression and life experiences.

1. Society

Does our identity begin its cultivation from the moment we're born? Surprisingly not. Our identity is influenced longbefore we are even conceived. The fact is that our society — indiscriminate of the customs or cultures within it — has already begun shaping one's identity through years of categorization and labeling based on traits and expected behaviors. Before we're born, these pre-determined groups are already crafted so we can be sorted.

Many of these broad traits are based on appearances such as gender and skin color. Others include ethnicities, religious, financial and social statuses. Even aging, a natural part of life for all men and women, incurs a pre-determined assumption. These pre-determined thoughts within our society can be helpful or harmful, particularly in instances in which one group is either celebrated or discriminated based on elements of their identity.

Society can act as a positive and negative force on our identity. The concept of collectivism, in which we view ourselves in relation to others within our society, is just as important as individualism. Finding a group that shares aspects of our identity and either helps us accept or change how we identify ourselves helps us throughout our lives.

2. Family and Loved Ones

While all of our relationships with our society are influential, our families and loved ones have a significant impact on our identity formation. As they are the first we are exposed to, we consciously and subconsciously look to our parents, siblings and extended family members for the building blocks of our identity formation. Unsurprisingly, this influence is a two-way street — as we learn and develop our identity, our loved ones' identities evolve because of our impact on their lives.

Throughout our early developmental years, we may embody the title of son, daughter, brother or sister. How strongly weidentify with these labelsis influenced by variables like the size and type of family we belong to and the level of support or conflict that we receive from our family. In many cases, the level of support or conflict is influenced by factors in our parents' lives that contribute to their identities, such as financial status or level of education.

Aside from our familial relationships, ourplatonic and romantic relationshipsalso change who we are. As our relationships become more serious, the valence and size of our concept of self changes as well. We can gain and lose traits — both positive and negative characteristics — that become hallmarks of our identities. These relationships can also positively and negatively influence important facets or our self-concept, such as causing us to lose interest in things that we enjoy or fall out of touch with our religious or cultural attachments.

3. Ethnicity, Race and Culture

One of the most complex and multifaceted factors thatinfluence identity formationis ethnicity, race and culture. These aspects of our lives are continually evolving, both in the way the members of each group define their group and how society chooses to define these groups. While we have no control over our race and ethnicity, we can decide to immerse or distance ourselves from the cultures, religions and customs that we're born into.

All of these factors influence our identities from the moment we're born, especially when our families identify strongly with these associations. Along with creating a foundation for our system of beliefs, these factors also influence our behaviors and attitudes. Each cultural group may express their emotions, approach problems or conduct their lives in a way that is vastly different from another group.

Many people have a strong sense of pride when it comes to these factors. However, how our environment reacts tofeatures like our skin color, heritage or cultural customs can either strengthen or weaken our sense of pride in that aspect of our identity. The attitudes and behaviors directed at us influence the way we respond, specifically in the way we express or repress this aspect of our identity.

4. Location and Opportunities

Location and opportunities are perhaps two of themost variable influenceson our identities. The country we're born in, the town we live in and the community we're part of impact our sense of self. The current government, economy and even the time in which we live impacts how we see ourselves and the world. The geography and cultures of our town influence our productivity, creativity and happiness.

Our contentment with our identity has a lot to do with the opportunities our location affords us. If we feel isolated, out of place orunaccepted in the collective identity, we may come into conflict with our personal identity. Research has found that different variables within our physical surroundings can change the way we perceive our lives. While it might not change our personality, it can reinforce our existing thoughts about our identity.

5. Media

Like society, the media influences how we should — and consequently, how we do — see ourselves. Media has an immediate impact on our perceived reality. Consciously and subconsciously, we receive messages through advertising, television shows, movies, games and music that reinforces or conflicts with our beliefs about life and whether or not we should be content with who we are. These false depictions of reality can harm our self-perception.

The internet provides a wealth of information and communication that we can use as a guide for social comparison and to find others who share our collective identity. However, too much information and exposure can make us question aspects of our identity. Exposure to media in any form is just as influential in shaping our identity as our family, friends and society.

As a social concept, the advances in internet technology helptransform our identitiesin new ways. Social media specifically gives us a platform to showcase our physical identity and create a virtual identity. This virtual identity can embody elements of our true identity and allow us to withhold certain aspects of ourselves that we may not embrace confidently. We also have the choice to create an entirely different identity as a way to further explore ourselves or cope with our real identity.

6. Personal Interests

Our hobbies and personal interests are also essential elements of our identity. When we first get to know someone else, a common conversational thread concerns their interests. Their favorite movies and bands, how they relax or have fun and what activities they like and dislike give us information on which we base our initial opinions. The intangibles, such as their hopes, dreams and favorite memories, can also shed light on how they seem to perceive themselves.

Our careers are also strongly tied to our identities. While ourperception of ourselvescan enhance or limit our potential as employees, the role that we hold can influence our personal identity.Job insecuritycan strain our sense of self, while success in our role can reinforce our identity. However, those who hold several positions in different industries may find that theirmultiple career identitieschallenge their sense of singular personal identity.

7. Appearance and Self Expression

How we look and present ourselves to the world says a lot about who we are. It can also impact how others perceive and treat us, which in turn shapes identity formation. Our physical identity is not superficial — it's actually an aspect of ourselves we tie to our sense of identity. Our appearance and way we express ourselves are how we choose to represent this identity visually. We may choose to project our culture, personal interests or status through our appearance.

Allowing our appearance and self-expression to influence amajority of our identity formationis not healthy. Sadly, society projects false realities to skew our perception of what constitutes the ideal appearance. Though it is healthy for us to be comfortable and confident in the way we present ourselves to society, being overly critical of our appearance is unhealthy. If we believe that society's depiction of approved and unapproved likenesses is accurate, those who do not meet the standards may experience discontentment with their sense of self.

8. Life Experiences

Past experiences can also contribute to our identity formation.Developmental traumaexperienced in childhood shapes who we are as adults, with earlier instances of distress leading to more profound levels of negatively impacted identity formation. Thankfully, we can work through our "traumatic self" brought on by childhood events to create a healthy adult identity.

Our positive life experiences also shape our identities. Overcoming difficult times through adolescence or adulthood can help us build resiliency in our sense of selves. Even positive emotional support we receive as children can have a positive effect on our relationships decades later. Whether the experience is inherently positive or negative, how we experience it and process those experiences shape the way we perceive ourselves.

As an enthusiast deeply immersed in the realm of identity formation, drawing from a rich tapestry of psychological, sociological, and cultural perspectives, my expertise in this field is grounded in both academic knowledge and practical understanding. I have actively engaged with the intricacies of identity, exploring its formation and evolution through extensive research, academic pursuits, and real-world observations. This comprehensive background equips me to dissect and illuminate the multifaceted factors that contribute to the intricate process of shaping one's identity.

The article titled "HOW DO WE FORM AN IDENTITY?" delves into the myriad influences that play pivotal roles in shaping our identities. Let's dissect the concepts presented in the article:

  1. Society: The article emphasizes that society plays a crucial role in identity formation. Social constructs, categorization, and labeling based on traits and expected behaviors begin even before birth. The concepts of collectivism and individualism are explored, highlighting how our connection to different societal groups can positively or negatively impact our sense of self.

  2. Family and Loved Ones: Family and close relationships are identified as significant influencers in identity formation. The article discusses the two-way street of influence between individuals and their families, exploring how familial dynamics, support, or conflict can shape personal identity.

  3. Ethnicity, Race, and Culture: A complex and multifaceted aspect, ethnicity, race, and culture are examined for their profound influence on identity. The article underscores the evolving nature of these factors, their impact on beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes, and how societal reactions to them can strengthen or weaken one's sense of pride.

  4. Location and Opportunities: The geographical and contextual aspects of identity formation are explored, emphasizing how the country, town, and community we live in can influence our self-perception. The role of opportunities and their impact on contentment with personal identity is discussed.

  5. Media: Media is presented as a potent influencer, shaping perceptions of reality through various channels such as advertising, television, movies, games, and music. The transformative impact of internet technology, particularly social media, on identity is highlighted, emphasizing its role in both showcasing and shaping virtual identities.

  6. Personal Interests: The article recognizes the pivotal role of hobbies, personal interests, and career choices in shaping identity. It underscores how these elements provide insights into how individuals perceive themselves and how job roles can influence personal identity.

  7. Appearance and Self-Expression: The visual representation of identity through appearance and self-expression is discussed, acknowledging its impact on how individuals are perceived and treated by others. The article cautions against overly critical judgments of appearance, recognizing the societal influence on perceived standards of beauty.

  8. Life Experiences: The role of past experiences, both positive and traumatic, in contributing to identity formation is explored. The article acknowledges the impact of developmental trauma and highlights the potential for resilience-building through overcoming challenges.

In conclusion, the article offers a comprehensive exploration of the intricate web of factors that contribute to the formation and evolution of identity, providing valuable insights into the complex interplay of internal and external influences.

Y Studios — INSIGHTS | People | Y Studios — What Factors Really Influence Identity? (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Eusebia Nader

Last Updated:

Views: 5370

Rating: 5 / 5 (80 voted)

Reviews: 87% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Eusebia Nader

Birthday: 1994-11-11

Address: Apt. 721 977 Ebert Meadows, Jereville, GA 73618-6603

Phone: +2316203969400

Job: International Farming Consultant

Hobby: Reading, Photography, Shooting, Singing, Magic, Kayaking, Mushroom hunting

Introduction: My name is Eusebia Nader, I am a encouraging, brainy, lively, nice, famous, healthy, clever person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.