Personality Development

Research around the World

We have provided abstracts of our own research projects. Please be sure to submit an abstract of your own studies, provided that it concerns the ego development construct (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). We would very much appreciate your participation.
Michiel Westenberg & Larry Cohn

Adams, Gerald. R. (Ph.D.) "Longitudinal Investigation of Ego Development from Early to Middle Adulthood
In the early 1980s we completed a study of ego and identity development during the university years. These students are being contacted some 20 years later to be reassessed on ego and identity development. Developmental trajectories will be identified and characteristics of their university experience in the 1980s will be used to make distinctions between progressive, regressive, and stable patterns of development. (Family Relations and Human Development, University of Guelph).

Bauer, Jack (Ph.D.) "Growth stories: Narrative identity and personality development"
In three studies we examined how people’s life stories--interpretations of their past and plans for their future--related to levels of maturity (measured as ego development) and well-being. Narratives of autobiographical memories and major life goals were coded for two forms of growth: integrative (learning-oriented) and intrinsic (humanistic-oriented). Mature participants emphasized integrative memories and goals, whereas happy participants emphasized intrinsic memories and goals. Age correlated with maturity and well-being, but this was partially explained by older participants’ greater tendency to have growth stories. Findings have implications for the intentional cultivation of different lines of personality development. (Psychology Department, North Arizona University)

Binder, Thomas:"Personality development of MBA-students and consultants in training"
This longitudinal study examines the influence of long educational programs on ego development of adults. 50 MBA-students and 50 adults, who participate in consult training programs, are examined. Ego Development is measured with the I-E-Profil, a German personality development test based on the WUSCT that has been especially adapted for business settings. Participants are assessed at the beginning of their programs and one and a half years later. The goal of this study is twofold: Firstly to investigate if vertical personality development has occurred or only (horizontal) learning has taken place. Secondly to analyze if these educational settings (academic learning with MBA-students vs. experiental learning with consultants) will produce different outcomes as the findings of Manners & Durkin (2000) suggest (Systemics Consulting Group, Berlin, Germany, www.i-e-profil.de).

Branco, Maria Luisa (Ph.D) "The Construction of Moral Autonomy: Jane Loevinger's Ego Development contribution"
Since the beginning of occidental reflection, moral autonomy was considered as a  sign of human maturity. According to the cognitive-developmental tradition, the construction of moral autonomy is mainly a process of separation-individuation. The ego developmental theory of Jane Loevinger , combining the cognitive developmental and the psychoanalytic approaches, proposes an understanding of moral autonomy as the result of a separation-inclusion movement. Therefore a more adequate comprehension of this phenomenon emerges, associated to a frame of socio-affective maturity. In educational terms it implies that we must balance an education aimed at developing the conception of justice and its principles with an education aimed at developing interpersonal relationships. (Department of Psychology and Education, University of Beira Interior, Portugal)

Cohn, Lawrence D. (Ph.D.) “ The impact of intoxication on psychosocial maturity and decisions to drink and drive”
This study employs an alcohol administration procedure in which participants are randomly assigned to consume alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages. Participants complete abbreviated forms of the WUSCT at pre-testing and then again following intoxication. The protocol seeks to determine if intoxication temporarily influences maturity (as indexed by scores on the WUSCT) and decisions to drive while intoxicated (DWI). The long term goal of this research is to increase the efficacy of DWI interventions by adapting them to the developmental level of adolescents and young adults (Psychology Department, University of Texas at El Paso, http://academics.utep.edu/Default.aspx?tabid=7329).

Horowitz, Mardi (M.D.) "Organizational Level of Self-Other Development"
Previous empirical research on person schematic level showed effects on psychotherapy process and outcome. New theory resulted, best in last four chapters of my book \" Cognitive Psychodynamics: From Conflict to Character\". These cover identity and attachment formation. (University of California, San Fransisco, CA. )

King, Laura, A. (Ph.D.) "Personality Development and Goals"
Our research examines how indivduals\' construals of their previous and current possible selves emerges out of and predicts ego development as well as psychological well-being. Using the SCT and self-report measures of well-being we hope to present a portrait of maturity that includes both the complexity described by Loevinger and the sense of well-being often associated with the word \"mature\". (Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri)

Kroger, Jane (Ph.D.) "The convergence of self, ego, and identity during late adolescence: A Rasch analysis"
Three models for analyzing self, ego, and identity were compared: Kegan's subject-object balances, Loevinger's ego development stages, and Marcia's ego identity statuses. Study 1 examined relationships across stages of the three models. Study 2 used item response theory to address whether the three models assess the same latent construct as well as the relative position of categories for each of the three stage schemes. Significant, positive correlations were found between all possible pairings of the three models. Rasch analyses suggest that the three models are assessing a unitary latent construct. Furthermore, the empirical category order reflects the theoretical order for each of the three models of self, ego, and identity development. (Psychology Department, University of Tromsø)

Miers, Anne C. (Ph.D.) “Social Anxiety during Adolescence"
This PhD project will involve a longitudinal study of the etiology and development of social anxiety during adolescence. Social anxiety is characterized by a fear of social situations in which negative social evaluation can occur. The study will employ the use of questionnaires, an experimental public speaking task, and physiological measurements to obtain subjective and objective data on anxiety. 
It is expected that in a non-clinical sample social anxiety will increase during the adolescent period. This increase will be studied in relation to ego development using Loevinger’s model. The Conformist and Self-aware stages are associated with high levels of social anxiety (Westenberg et al., 2004).  Apart from psychosocial maturation, sexual and cognitive maturation will be studied. These variables will be investigated from a global developmental perspective. 
In addition, this project will examine individual differences in the experience of social anxiety. Possible causal factors of such variability are emotional competence, negative cognitions, temperament, peer relations, and parenting. (Supervisor: P.M. Westenberg, Psychology Department, Leiden University)

Newman, Denise L. (Ph.D.) "Ego development and ethnic identity formation in rural American Indian adolescents"
Ethnic identity development was assessed in the context of ego development in 12-15 year old students from a southeastern American Indian community. Self-Protective was the modal level and characterized by awareness of ethnic group membership but little exploration or self-reflection. Impulsive level adolescents had the least developed ethnic identities and highest levels of interpersonal vulnerability. Conformist adolescents expressed positive feelings about ethnic group affiliation, described relationships as harmonious, but evidenced moderate social anxiety. Post-Conformist adolescents had the highest levels of agency, social competence, and identity achievement, but also high levels of psychological distress and family conflict.  Adolescent identity strivings may be understood in context with the level and timing of psychosocial maturity, for which ego development appears a useful marker. (Child Study Center at Tulane University)

Novy, Diane M. (Ph.D.) "Using an application of structural equation modeling to test Loevinger's theory and the validity of her instrument"
My colleagues and I have demonstrated the structural validity of Loevinger’s model and measure of ego development, using an application of structural equation modeling for theory testing and validity purposes. This application has been used as a guide for subsequent theory testing and validation across diverse disciplines.  Other articles on Loevinger’s model and measure, the Washington University Sentence Completion Test, have demonstrated the gender equivalency of the measure, the adequacy of alternate forms, the progressive sequence of the levels of ego development among diverse non-clinical samples, and a replication of the demonstrated psychometric properties among patients with chronic pain.  An article with Blumentritt provides information on maximizing performance on the Washington University Sentence Completion Test by altering instructions.(Departments of Anesthesiology and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston and also at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center)

Rosén, Anne-Sofie (Ph.D.) "Socialisation"
In a cross-disciplinary longitudinal project we study psychological development from adolescence into young adulthood in a large sample of girls and boys. They were 14, 16 and 18 yrs old when the data collection started. Loevinger’s measure of ego development is used to describe personality and within-individual change over time. During this period in the life of the individual many external changes take place that may have an effect on the course of personality development. Ego development is studied in relation to interests and values, personal goals and life satisfaction, social attitudes and the self-concept. (Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, Sweden)

Sprinthall, Norman (Ph.D.) "Democratic Character Development: The Early Years at H.G.S.E."
Initial 60’s and 70’sefforts  to build a developmental approach to democratic character growth will be described, including discussion of prior models (e.g., Bloom, Super, Tiedeman, Havighurst, et al).  Mosher, Sprinthall, and their team of graduate students created a curriculum for deliberate psychological education. Uneven first trials (Mosher’s “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory”), Kohlbergs’s fortuitous arrival, interest in applications beyond “The Blatt Effect," and the inclusion of G.H. Mead's role-taking plus Loevinger's framework will be noted. This work set the stage for broad applications to schools, colleges and community agencies toward Deweyan goals of democratic thought and action. (North Carolina State University)

Torbert, William R. (Ph.D.) and Rooke, David (Ph.D.) "Seven transformations of leadership"
The authors summarize data derived from over 4,000 Leadership Development Profiles (based on the WUSCT) of professionals and executives, as well as over 25 years of consulting to companies, on how persons measured at different developmental action-logics lead differently and on how to help leaders, teams, and whole organizations transform from one developmental action-logic to another. (Boston College, US)

Westenberg, P. Michiel (Ph.D.) “Adolescent ego development”
Loevinger’s model and measure of ego development were developed predominantly on the basis of sentence completion protocols from adults. Yet research has demonstrated the usefulness of the construct and the measure for studying children and adolescents. In our research we are focusing on the nature and normative course of ego development from late childhood through late adolescence, and in this process we are constructing an age-appropriate scoring manual for the SCT-Y. We also study the relationship between ego development and various aspects of adolescent behavior: (a) observational measures of psychosocial maturity, (b) fear of negative social evaluation, (c) juvenile delinquency, and (d) behavior problems in a child and adolescent psychiatric population. (Psychology Department, Leiden University). See Psychosocial Maturation.