Navigating Identity Uncertainty: Identity Distress During the COVID-19 Pandemic




Meca, Alan
Allison, Kelsie K.
Passini, Julia
Veniegas, Taryn
Cruz, Bethany
Castillo, Linda G.
Schwartz, Seth J.
Zamboanga, Byron L.
Michikyan, Minas
Bessaha, Melissa

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


SAGE Publications


The long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have only recently begun to be explored. Among college students, who were faced with sudden and unprecedented changes and challenges, it is likely that COVID-19 detrimentally impacted the establishment of a sense of self, a key developmental task of the college years. However, no research has examined the relationships among COVID-19 related worries, identity distress, and psychological and academic adjustment. To address these gaps in the current study, we examined the prevalence of identity distress, the relationship between COVID-19 related worries and identity distress, and the direct and indirect associations between COVID-19 related worries and psychological and academic adjustment among a sample of 1627 college students (Mage = 20.51, SD = 2.21). Findings indicated that over a third of the sample reported high levels of identity distress and that COVID-19 related worries were negatively associated, both directly and indirectly through identity distress, with psychological and academic adjustment.


© 2023 Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood and SAGE Publishing


academic adjustment, COVID-19 pandemic, emerging adults, identity distress, psychological adjustment


Meca, A., Allison, K. K., Passini, J., Veniegas, T., Cruz, B., Castillo, L. G., Schwartz, S. J., Zamboanga, B. L., Michikyan, M., Bessaha, M., Regan, P. C., Subrahmanyam, K., Bartholomew, J., Piña-Watson, B., Cano, M. Á., & Martinez, C. R. (2023). Navigating Identity Uncertainty: Identity Distress During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Emerging Adulthood, 0(0).