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The Utrecht-Management of Identity Commitments Scale (U-MICS) is a self-report measure developed by Wim Meeus in 2001 on the basis of the Utrecht-Groningen Identity Development Scale (U-GIDS; Meeus, 1996).

The U-MICS aims to assess the identity processes included in the three-factor identity model (Crocetti, Rubini, & Meeus, 2008):

  • Commitment refers to firm choices that adolescents have enacted, and to the self-confidence they derive from these choices.
  • In-depth exploration represents the extent to which adolescents reflect on their current commitments, search for additional information, and talk with others about their choices.
  • Reconsideration of commitment refers to comparing one’s present commitments with possible alternative commitments when one’s existing goals, values, and beliefs are no longer satisfactory. Thus, reconsideration of commitment combines loosening existing commitments with broad exploration of new possibilities.

The U-MICS includes 13 items: 5 items measure commitment, 5 items tap in-depth exploration, and 3 items assess reconsideration of commitment. Each item is rated on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (completely untrue) to 5 (completely true).

The same items can be used to assess identity dimensions in different identity domains: educational, job, relational (friendship, romantic relationship), etc. Thus the U-MICS can be employed to assess identity processes in one specific domain or to measure global identity, obtained combining at least one ideological domain (e.g., educational or job identity) and one relational domain (e.g., peer or romantic relationship).

Validation studies conducted with different samples (e.g., Crocetti et al., 2015) indicated that the three-factor model (including commitment, in-depth exploration, and reconsideration of commitment) provided a significantly better fit to the data compared to alternative one-factor (in which all identity processes were collapsed on the same latent variable) and two-factor (consisting of commitment and global exploration, combining in-depth exploration and reconsideration of commitment) models. Furthermore, the three-factor model fitted equal well for different groups (e.g., early and middle adolescents, boys and girls, and autochthons and ethnic minority adolescents).

The U-MICS can be used also for studying identity statuses. In this case, from the respondent scores on commitment, in-depth exploration, and reconsideration of commitment is possible to obtain, by using data-driven methods of classification (e.g., cluster analysis, latent class analysis), five identity statuses (e.g., Crocetti, Rubini, Luyckx, & Meeus, 2008):

  • the achievement status consists of indivdiuals who score high on commitment and in-depth exploration, but low on reconsideration of commitment;
  • the early closure status includes individuals with moderately high scores on commitment and low scores on both in-depth exploration and reconsideration of commitment;
  • the searching moratorium status comprises individuals high on commitment, in-depth exploration, and reconsideration of commitment.
  • the moratorium status consists of individuals who score low on commitment, medium on in-depth exploration, and high on reconsideration of commitment;
  • the diffusion status includes individuals with low scores on commitment, in-depth exploration, and reconsideration of commitment;

These five identity statuses expand the original Marcia’s (1966) identity status paradigm differentiating between two types of moratorium. The two moratorium statuses differ in terms of the base from which reconsideration is attempted. Adolescents in the moratorium cluster have few commitments and are evaluating alternatives in order to find satisfying identity-related commitments. Conversely, their peers in the searching moratorium cluster are seeking to revise commitments that have already been enacted, and they are able to do so from the secure base provided by their current commitments.

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