Personality Development

1. Is Loevinger's model and measure of personality development part of Psychoanalytic Theory?

No, neither the instrument nor the theory is related to psychoanalysis. Several authors have mistakenly associated Loevinger’s use of the term “ego” with psychoanalytic uses of the term. The link is nonexistent, however, as Loevinger has repeatedly stated (Loevinger, 1976, 1993; see also Westen, 1998).


2. Is it legitimate to use fewer than the 36 items on the WUSCT?

Yes, under certain circumstances (e.g., pre-posttest assessments following a brief intervention). Loevinger constructed Form 81 so that the two halves of the test  (i.e., 1st and 2nd set of 18 items) have equivalent item validities and can be used as short forms of the measure. The psychometric properties of the short form is discussed in Loevinger (1985). Note, however, that the abbreviated forms are less reliable than use of the complete 36 item instrument. The complete form is therefore advised for use with individual clients in clinical or organizational practice. 


3. Is it necessary to use Loevinger's scoring manual to rate WUSCT protocols?

Yes, absolutely! The strength of the WUSCT lies in its empirically developed scoring manual. Even trained and experienced raters must rate each WUSCT response using the manual (Cf. Hy and Loevinger, 1998, p. 32). Hy and Loevinger (1996) observed that “persons who tried to bypass the training … were almost never correct in their ratings (p. 32).


4. How long does it take to learn to score the Washington University Sentence Completion Test?

Hy and Loevinger (1998, p. 32) suggest that a basic mastery of the scoring manual can be obtained by spending about two hours per day for 2 - 3 weeks completing the self-training exercises provided in Hy and Loevinger (1998).


5. Can I hire trained raters to score my WUSCT protocols?

Loevinger and her colleagues have typically not recommended pursuing this route. Some legitimately trained and experienced raters periodically provide rating services for a fee. However, a non-trivial understanding of the developmental levels typically requires the tacit knowledge that comes from learning to score WUSCT protocols.


6. Is a computerized version of the scoring procedure available?

No computerized scoring procedure is available to rate the responses to the item stems. Attempts to develop such a procedure have failed to yield a reliable scoring system. However, the conversion of the item ratings into a total protocol rating can be automated (e.g., Hy, 1998).   


7. Is it possible to administer the WUSCT or SCT-Y orally?

Several studies indicate that an oral administration does not seem to distort ego level scores (e.g., McCammon, 1981). If the testing situation permits, it might be good practice to ask children under the age of 12 if they would prefer the written or oral format, because one study showed that a slight advantage was noted for young respondents who indicated a preference for an oral presentation (Westenberg, van Strien, & Drewes, 2001). 


8. Is it okay to administer the WUSCT and SCT-Y through the telephone or mail?

Mail or telephone administration procedures are not typically advised, because the direct supervision needed to ensure uninterrupted and independent responding is lacking, and one study showed that a telephone administration yielded significantly lower ego level scores (Hansell et al., 1985).   


9. Is the WUSCT, or SCT-Y, simply an indirect measure of verbal intelligence?

No, these instruments are not a proxy measure of intelligence.  A recent meta-analysis of 52 correlations (retrieved from 42 studies involving 5,648 participants) yielded a weighted average correlation between WUSCT scores and verbal intelligence test scores of r = .32 (see Cohn & Westenberg, 2004). In contrast, the correlation between scores on the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS III) and scores on the Stanford-Binet is .88 (cf. Cohn & Westenberg, 2004, p. 767). The meta-analysis also demonstrated the incremental validity of the sentence completion method by reviewing 16 studies that examined the association between ego level and various criterion scores after statistically controlling for the effects of intelligence.   


10. What are the best references to learn more about Loevinger's WUSCT and Westenberg's SCT-Y?

A comprehensive introduction to both instruments and their theoretical background is provided in a chapter in the Comprehensive Handbook of Psychological Assessment authored by Westenberg, Hauser, and Cohn (2004). More detailed information regarding the meaning and measurement of ego development can be found in Loevinger (1976, 1985, 1993, 1998), Hy and Loevinger (1996), and Blasi (1998). Specific information concerning ego development in children and adolescents can be found in Westenberg et al. (1998). 


11. Is there a manual for scoring Westenberg's Sentence Completion Test for Youth (SCT-Y) and, if so, how can I obtain it? 

Yes, but it is currently in Dutch. An English version of the test and an associated scoring manual (validated using data from U.S. respondents ages 8 - 18) is currently being developed and prepared for publication. Inquiries regarding the SCT-Y and manual can be sent to Prof. P. Michiel Westenberg, Department of Psychology, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands.   


12. Where can I post questions regarding scoring issues, study designs using the WUSCT, clinical use of the WUSCT, or related issues?

Questions can be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Relevant inquiries will be posted on this website for review and discussion by readers.>>>