Psych Abstract: Correlates of ego development in adolescent group home residents

Research Abstract

Aguilar, C., Brazelton, S., Clary, K., Gonzales, C., Sanchez, E., & Dulin, N. (April 2, 2005). Correlates of ego development in adolescent group home residents. Poster session presented at the Thirty-Fourth Annual Western Psychology Conference for Undergraduate Research, Santa Clara, CA.

The purpose of this study was to examine ego development and other personality constructs in a sample of group home adolescents. At-risk youth are prevalent in today’s society and are often neglected, which is why it’s important for us to research this underrepresented population. Ego development is theoretically described by Loevinger as such: “it encompasses the complexity of moral judgment, the nature of interpersonal relations, and the framework within which one perceives oneself and other people” (Loevinger, 1979). Ego resiliency is defined as the ability to adapt to surrounding environments, through having social, cognitive and personal strategies (Block & Block, 1984). Ego-control includes the ability to avoid or take risks, the ability to contain or express emotion and is related to impulsivity (Funder, 1989). Ego-control, therefore, measures the degree to which people moderate impulses and process thought in consciousness (Funder 1989). The last measure examined was the Big Five Inventory (BFI; John, Donahue & Kentle, 1991). The BFI is a 44-item assessment of the five main dimensions of personality: neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness (John, et al., 1991). Forty-one participants (13 male and 28 female) ages 12 to 18 lived in one of two group home agencies in Southern California. Informed consent was obtained from the agency, legal guardians, and the adolescent. Participants were administered the measures in two questionnaire sessions. Ego development was measured by the Washington University Sentence Completion Test (Hy & Loevinger, 1996). Ego-Resiliency is a 14-item assessment of how individuals respond to varying situational demands (Block & Kremen, 1996). Block’s measure of Ego-control is a 38-item measure of the tendency to contain motivational and emotional impulses (Block, unpublished). Our hypotheses were as follows: ego development would be positively correlated with age, ego-control, ego resiliency, and the openness factor of the BFI. All hypotheses were supported with the exception of the relationship between ego development and ego-control (no significant correlation was found). These results suggest that age and particular personality traits are important in successful ego development. Future research may focus on the developmental progression of adolescents through different stages of ego development.