School Climate, Developmental Support, and Adolescent Identity Formation

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2020


Adolescence is a critical period for identity formation and a positive identity has a significant impact on positive health outcomes in later life. In the current study, we hypothesized that students in positive school environments are more likely to have their basic psychological needs (BPNS) satisfied and achieve positive identity development. Using a quantitative cross-sectional survey design, we collected participant data on 2,405 middle and high school students enrolled in public schools. Hierarchical multiple regression models were analyzed in order to examine how school climate and BPNS were associated with positive identity. Findings suggest the patterns of associations between school climate factors and BPNS on positive identity formation differ across middle and high school students. Thus, results suggest adolescents may benefit from developmentally responsive school environments tailored to students' developmental needs and identity exploration.

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