Our study conceptualizes identity as the organization of self-understandings which define one’s place in the world (Schwartz et al., 2005). These self-understandings regard personality traits, personality evaluations, beliefs, and values.
The focus of our study is on values, viewing them as a fundamental part of one’s identity (Verplanken & Holland, 2002). Values are abstract concepts or beliefs concerning human goals that serve as guiding standards in human lives. (Schwartz, 1994). They are considered to transcend specific situations, and as such are generalized across them (Schwartz, 1992).
However, in this study we argue that although there is likely to be a core of individuals’ values, stable across situations and contexts, values are expressed differently in varying occasions. Evidence from research on identity in diverse disciplines suggests that identity is differentiated into domain-specific aspects. In each aspect self-descriptions and evaluations are somewhat different, reflecting identity’s adaptation to the specific environmental pressures. Being an integral part of identity, we postulate that value priorities vary across domains. Research regarding the domain-specific identity aspects has identified a number of domains as particularly relevant during adolescence. Identity at the personal level includes identity in relation to the family, to school and to close friends. Research regarding collective identity has isolated ethnic and national belonging as particularly important to the process of acculturation (Schönpflug, 1997).
Between domains, self-descriptions and evaluations are somewhat different, reflecting identity’s adaptation to specific environmental pressures. For example, cultural groups, religions, occupations, and families differ in their value priorities (Knafo & Sagiv, 2004; Sarogolou et al., 2003; Schwartz, 1999), and the values prevailing in each social institution influence individual value priorities (Schwartz, 1999).
We propose that value priorities vary across domains, along with other identity characteristics. For example, an individual may see achievement as a very important guiding goal for her or his conduct in a competitive school, above and beyond the importance s/he assigns to tradition values. Yet, in the company of her/his highly religious family, tradition may be more significant, overshadowing the importance assigned to achievement values.
In principle, this reasoning applies to all identity contexts but in our study we will focus especially on migration and on the family. Migration is one important factor that is supposed to influence identity differentiation—which with regard to values refers to the degree of difference in value priorities depending on the domain. Furthermore, to enlighten the aspect of value transmission we focus on the family as one important domain. Additional domains are friends, school, and nationality.
Besides migration, another aspect that is supposed to influence identity differentiation is age. We expect value priorities to become increasingly differentiated between domain-specific aspects, personal as well as collective, during the course of adolescence. The cognitive and social advancements encourage identity differentiation to domain-specific priorities from early to late adolescence (Harter, 1999; Harter & Monsour, 1992).
Both above mentioned variables—migration and age—not only influence identity differentiation but furthermore the relationship between identity differentiation and psychological adjustment. Regarding age, identity differentiation was found to create more personal distress during mid adolescence than during early and late adolescence (Harter, 1999). Likewise, immigrants may experience contradictions between identity aspects as less or more distressing compared to natives. Studying the interactions between these factors will increase our understanding of the relationship between identity differentiation and psychological adjustment during adolescence, and perhaps assist interventions aimed at helping individuals during the demanding process of acculturation.
A central assumption regards family transmission. We expect parents’ general value priorities to correlate with adolescents’ general value priorities. Similarly, they are expected to correlate with adolescents’ values at the family domain. This context-specific correlation is expected to be higher than that between parents’ values and adolescents’ values at the school domain, or that between the parents’ values and adolescents’ general value priorities.
Second, we propose that adolescents’ values as members of an ethnic group or inhabitants of a particular country will be similar to the stereotype they hold regarding the group. As a result, the correlation between the cultural values prevalent in the relevant group and the adolescents’ values in the relevant identity domain will be higher than the correlation between the cultural values of the group and the adolescents’ values at any other domain.
Migrants and minorities are to varying degrees not only influenced by the culture of the host country but also by the values of their culture of origin. We assume that there are differences between migrants and natives regarding value priorities in the family domain as well as in the country resp. ethnicity domain. We postulate that the relation between value priorities in the country- and ethnicity domain will be stronger among native Germans and Israelis than among immigrants and minority members due to the fact that among natives the ethnic group culture is more similar to the country culture. We also hypothesize that the relations between the family identity aspect and the collective identity aspects will differ between natives, immigrants, or minority group members. To summarize, we expect identity differentiation to be higher among immigrant and minority families than among natives.
Last but not least, we expect that age has a significant influence. Value priorities are supposed to become increasingly differentiated between the above-mentioned domains, personal as well as collective, during the course of adolescence.