CID Young Talent: Andrik Becht
Andrik Becht: ‘Knowing who you are is a psychological source of resilience.’
By Eline Kraaijenvanger
Photo: Bram Belloni
‘The big identity question – who am I? – emerges in adolescence and develops into young adulthood. You start to wonder who you want to become, what friends you want to surround yourself with, and what kind of career you want to pursue. Recurring doubts about your identity play a big role in how you feel. My PhD research at the CID showed that young people who displayed high levels of identity insecurity on a daily basis were more likely to experience anxiety and depressive feelings. Or, turning it around: knowing who you are is a psychological source of resilience.
The longer young people continue to explore these identity questions, the stronger that relationship with negative feelings becomes. This is not illogical – society simply expects you to make choices at some point. These expectations can cause stress. I quite understand that young people experience a lot of stress nowadays – they have to prove themselves in so many different areas, and all the while society is becoming more and more complex. Of course, there are individual differences in the way in which people deal with making choices: some only see hurdles, while others see four ways around them. But what matters most is how much you engage with these choices on a daily basis.
‘It is truly great when you manage to link your personal passion to your professional life; that would have been impossible without the foundation the CID gave me.’
I think the CID has allowed many young researchers to qualify as good scientists who can now start their own research. For example, I have since set up my own study on the development of ecological identity. I have always been very attentive to nature – I am a major fan of pruning. But since having children, my interest in the environment has really been sparked. It is truly great when you manage to link your personal passion to your professional life; that would have been impossible without the foundation the CID gave me. Good science is teamwork and I have been lucky to be part of the CID community.’
Andrik Becht is an assistant professor at Utrecht University.
This article is part of a New Scientist special issue about the Consortium on Individual Development, that will appear in September 2023.