Embracing the Institutional Mission: Influences of Identity Processing Styles

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Lauren A. Milner, M.S.
Joseph R. Ferrari, Ph.D.


Previous research suggests that different information processing styles influence how effectively students adapt to a college environment. During the college years, individuals shape and refine their values and principles while they also develop a life-long philosophy. The present study examined how student ego-identity development (n = 1,249) was influenced by institutional values of social justice and engagement at an urban, Catholic institution. Results suggested that students with information-orientation and normative-orientation identity processing styles demonstrated an understanding of the institutional mission during their undergraduate years. In contrast, students with a diffuse orientation identity processing style did not necessarily develop a strong sense of the mission. These findings indicate that Catholic universities may need to implement programs to reach out to individuals with a diffuse identity processing style.

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Author Biographies

Lauren A. Milner, M.S., University of Arkansas

Lauren Milner was a Research Specialist at DePaul University, Chicago, IL, and is currently a Doctoral Student at University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR.

Joseph R. Ferrari, Ph.D., DePaul University

Joseph Ferrari is Professor of Psychology and Vincent de Paul Distinguished Professor, DePaul University, Chicago, IL.