Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

George Bizer




psychosocial development, psychology, identity formation, adolescence


Erik Erikson’s ego psychoanalytic theory of psychosocial development divides the development of self into eight stages of crisis, where each stage progresses one’s identity by some means. The present experiment was conducted to assess how one’s identity-formation stage, adolescence or young adulthood, predicts how a person’s attitude is formed about a product if a popularity appeal cue is employed. High school and college students were presented with one of two forms of an advertisement: one employed a popularity appeal, while the other did not. High school students held more favorable attitudes toward the product when the advertisement contained the cue, while no such effect was found among college students. Conversely, participant’s age, regardless of school group, did not predict how attitudes were shaped by the presence or absence of the cue. These results modify the context of Erikson’s theory of identity formation, suggesting that it is one’s social environment at a specific stage, rather than one’s specific age, that affects identity formation and how one is persuaded by a message.