Identity refers to the characteristics, beliefs, personality, appearance, and/or expressions that define a person (self-identity as defined by psychology) or group (collective identity as pre-eminent in sociology). Self-image (one's mental picture of oneself), self-esteem, and individuality are all aspects of psychological identity. Identity is also described as a set of attributes for which one is recognized by others.
Individuals often describe their identity in terms of its elements: who they are, what they believe, what they value, how they express themselves, and any scars they may have from past experiences.
In philosophy, identity refers to that which makes any particular thing the same as itself. In mathematics, identity implies strict equivalence; if two things are equal then they are identical. In this sense, identity is an equivalence relation.
In science, identity refers to that which is identified or detected through analysis. In chemistry, the identity of a compound can be determined by comparing its physical and chemical properties with those of other compounds with known structures. The components of a substance can be separated and re-combined without changing the original material, and thus identity in chemistry requires only sameness of composition. Isotopes are analogues of each other with the same atomic number but different numbers of neutrons, and so are identical except for their mass. Isotopic compositions can be used to date materials such as fossils by radioactive decay.
"Identity is simply described as the qualities that determine who or what a person or object is." Race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, physical traits, personality, political affiliations, religious views, professional identities, and so on are all elements or qualities of identity. In ordinary language, we often use the word "identity" without thinking about what it means.
Identity is a complex subject. Science has only recently begun to explore it. However, some scientific theories have been proposed to explain how we identify with people and things around us. These theories can help us understand how we make sense of who we are and what matters to us.
Social identity theory explains how we come to see ourselves as part of something larger than ourselves. It says that we identify with groups to protect these groups from threats and to gain access to resources. Social identity also plays a role in how we define our own personal boundaries - where one person ends and another begins. Finally, social identity theory suggests that we seek out opportunities to affirm ourselves and others within our communities.
Cultural identity theory focuses on how individuals belong to cultures. It states that we choose to identify with certain groups because they share common values and beliefs. Cultural identity also helps us define who is allowed to speak for our communities - for example, leaders may be chosen based on their knowledge of local customs and practices.
A person's or thing's identity is who or what they are. Your identity is how you describe yourself, as well as how others define you (and these definitions are often not the same). That is why we talk about self-esteem and may not realize how vital it is to our health and well-being. Without an understanding of one's identity, it can be difficult to move forward in life.
Identity is very important because without knowing who you are you cannot live up to your potential or achieve your goals. You also cannot let go of your past mistakes or abuse if you do not know who you are so it is crucial that you work out this problem before it causes you more pain.
Knowing your identity will help you deal with other people, too. If you know who you are and what you stand for, then you will be able to communicate your beliefs to others. You will know how to act towards others based on their actions versus your assumptions about them, which will help you form relationships with others.
Finally, knowing your identity will make it easier for you to understand yourself. If you know what makes you tick, why you do the things you do, then you will be able to better understand your behavior.
All in all, knowing your identity is important because it helps you figure out who you are and what you stand for. With this knowledge you can move forward in life and accomplish great things.