Identity Style Inventory, ISI-5

Test scores

Informational style
Normative style
Diffuse-avoidant style
lowaveragehigh score

norms by authors (n=403)



People tend to score more highly on one of the three identity processing styles, but this is not always the case – here are descriptions of the three styles:

Informational Identity Processing Style

Individuals with an informational identity style are self-disciplined with a clear sense of commitment and direction. They are self-reflective, skeptical, and interested in learning new things about themselves; they intentionally seek out, evaluate, and utilize self-relevant information, and they are willing to accommodate self-views in light of dissonant feedback. This style is associated with cognitive complexity, problem-focused coping, vigilant decision making, open mindedness, personal effectiveness, and an achieved or moratorium identity status.

Normative Identity Processing Style

Not everyone approaches potentially self-diagnostic information in a rational, open-minded fashion. Although people with a normative identity style are also conscientious, self-disciplined and possess a strong sense of commitment and purpose, they tend to internalize and adhere to the goals, expectations, and standards of significant others or referent groups in a relatively more automatic manner. They have a foreclosed identity status, a limited tolerance for uncertainty and a strong need for structure and closure; their primary goal is to defend and preserve their existing self-views and identity structure.

Diffuse-Avoidant Identity Processing Style

Individuals with a diffuse-avoidant style procrastinate and try to avoid dealing with identity conflicts and decisions as long as possible. When they have to act or make choices, their behavior is determined primarily by situational demands and consequences. How they act depends to a large extent on where they are and who they are with. Theoretically, people with high diffuse-avoidant scores may possess commitments but their commitments are likely to be volatile and quickly accommodated in light of changing situational demands, rewards, and circumstances. This identity style is associated with an extemal locus of control, limited self-control, weak commitments, self-handicapping attributions and behaviors, problem behaviors and a diffusion identity status.


Your commitment score indicates how committed you are to the values, beliefs and attitudes that underpin your identity. The higher your commitment, the more you have determined your identity and the less likely it is that you will make changes in these aspects of your self-concept. People with low scores are likely to be continuing to explore their options (particularly if Informational Style) or may be reluctant to make a commitment (particularly if Diffuse-Avoidant Style). People with Normative Styles often commit prematurely by adopting the values and beliefs of family and friends without doing much in the way of identity exploration.