The identity change process: A field study of obesity

Douglas Degher, Gerald Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


This paper is an attempt to fill a void within the interactionist literature by presenting an inductively generated model of the “identity change process.” This model treats the change process from a career focus, and thus addresses both the internal (cognitive), and the external (public) features of the identity change process. The adoption of a new status is seen to occur through two sequential internal or cognitive processes. The first is “recognizing,” wherein the individual must come to recognize that the current status is inappropriate. The second is “placing,” wherein the individual must locate a new, more appropriate status. These cognitive processes are triggered by, and mediated through status cues, which exist in the external environment. In response to status cues, the individual comes to recognize that the initial status is inappropriate and, then locates a new, more appropriate status. These cues can be either active or passive. Active cues are transmitted through interaction, while passive cues must be sought out by the individual. Another feature of social statuses is the extent to which they are self‐evident. Self‐evidentiality refers to the degree to which a person, who possesses certain objective status characteristics, is aware that a particular status label applies to them. Since recognition occurs in response to status cues, the self‐evidentiality of a status will influence the type of cues which play the most prominent role in identity change. Finally, we have suggested that this model has applicability to the study of other deviant identities and their adoption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-401
Number of pages17
JournalDeviant Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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