This page will review the following theories:

  • Chickering and Reisser’s Seven Vectors of Identity Development
  • Environmental Influences of Identity Development

Chickering and Reisser (1993)

  • The Seven Vectors:
    • Developing Competence –
      • An individual develops within intellectual, physical and manual skills, and interpersonal competencies.
      • Intellectual Competence is characterized by ability to use reasoning and critical thinking skills
      • Physical and Manual Competence is characterized by involvement and attention to wellness, artistic, and athletic activities
      • Interpersonal Competence is characterized by the ability to communicate and work well with others
  • Managing Emotions –
    • An individual becomes competent in his or her ability to recognize and mange emotions
    • Incorporation of all emotions and an individuals ability to reasonably manage his or her reactions to events
  • Moving Through autonomy Toward Interdependence -
    • An individual develops ability to have an independent outlook on life but understand successful relationships are based upon an interdependence
  • Developing Mature Interpersonal Relationships
    • An individual develops intercultural relations, appreciation for others, and tolerance for those around them
    • Reisser (1995) indicates this vector indicates one’s ability to accept others, respect differences, and appreciate commonalties
  • Establishing Identity
    • An individual processes through his or her identity to emerge with a healthy self-concept in all facets of identity
  • Developing Purpose
    • An individual has a strong outlook on professional life, makes meaning within his or her own interests, and establishes positive relationships with others
  • Developing Integrity
    • An individual is able to articulate and emulate his or her own values affirmed as an individual through three stages: humanizing values, personalizing values, and developing congruence

Environmental Influences

  • An individual’s vectors can be influenced by the institution through a multitude of influences
    • Institutional Objectives – Consistency in policies, programs and objects can lead individuals to challenge or accept
    • Institutional Size – The degree to which a student has the ability to participate in the larger community
    • Student-Faculty Relationships – Positive relationship facilitates a deeper intellectual and relationship identity for individuals
    • Curriculum – Individuals who can better relate to their curriculum have an increase ability to encounter situations and critically reason through situations
    • Teaching – Involvement of active learning help to students to develop better interpersonal relationships and positive intercultural identity
    • Friendships and Student Communities – Individuals learn best from one another and individual’s situation
    • Student Development Programs and Services – The collaborative environment are necessary to provide programs to challenge and support students

The Admonitions

  • Three essentials in the learning environment to increase positive development
    • Integration of Work and Learning – Intentionality integrating work opportunities into the campus and produces ways for students to find internships and eventually jobs
    • Recognition and Respect for Individual Differences – Educators must be actively aware of differences and create environment to learn from each other and each student
    • Acknowledgement of the Cyclical Nature of Learning and Development – Providing opportunities to challenge and stretch individual’s thought processes, gain a deeper understanding other themselves and others


This page was written and created by Michelle Robinson. Please use the comment section below to ask questions, provide reflection, discussion and/or feedback. To contact directly about this page, please see Michelle Robinson at microbi23@gmail.com.