Adjusting to the College Transition: An Examination of Clydesdale’s Identity Lockbox Theory

Publication Date



The literature indicates that adolescents tend to set their Christian faith aside as they leave high school and enter their emerging adult years (e.g., Kinnaman & Hawkins, 2011) and various arguments exist to explain this trend. Some sources suggest emerging adults leave their faith behind in order to pursue new ideas or that they become more interested in newly found freedoms related to fulfilling adult gratifications (Hunter, 1983; Lefkowitz, 2005). Clydesdale (2007) offered an alternative argument, proposing that the majority of emerging adults do not completely abandon their faith in the years following high school, but put it on hold by placing it into a metaphorical identity lockbox. He argued that although most emerging adults lock core aspects of their identities away, some do not, including those who are strongly religious, antireligious, or future intelligentsia. The Identity Lockbox Scale (Lee & Teller, 2010) was created to operationalize Clydesdale's theory, but to date the scale has not been empirically validated. In the present study, I tested the validity of the Identity Lockbox Scale using archival data from the College Transition Project. I conducted an exploratory factor analysis using the principle-axis factor extraction to determine factor structure. Analyses revealed a 3-factor solution, with loading in a manner partially consistent with Clydesdale's theory. I employed reliability analyses to assess internal consistency of the scales constructed from the results of the factor analysis, and conducted cross validation analyses between the three factors and college adjustment.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)

First Advisor

Lee, Cameron

Document Type





College student orientation, High school graduates, College freshmen, Spirituality




Public Access: If you attend a college or university, you may be granted access for free through your school library subscription to ProQuest Theses & Dissertations. Copies may be available for purchase via ProQuest Dissertations Publishing https://dissexpress.proquest.com/search.html

Upload File


Embargo Period