EGO DEVELOPMENT AND CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT SYSTEMS AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO COPING AND DEFENSE PROCESSES IN WOMEN

MARIAN JESSICA CHIESA, Fordham University

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between ego development levels and conceptual system development in women. This study also examined the relationship between these levels of development and the use of coping and defense mechanisms. Loevinger's Sentence Completion Test was used to measure ego development, Harvey's This I Believe Test was used to assess conceptual systems level, the Defense Mechanism Inventory was employed to measure defense mechanisms, and the Coping Style Scale was used to measure coping and defense mechanisms.^ Subjects for this study consisted of 105 women selected from several sources in three northeastern states. The samples were selected in order to ensure a full range performance on ego and conceptual measures.^ In order to determine the relationship between levels of ego development and conceptual systems, a chi-square analysis was conducted. Results indicated a significant relationship (p < .0001) between ego development and conceptual systems.^ The defense and coping variables were submitted to a principal components analysis in order to reduce the data to a smaller set of components. The resultant eight factor solution was used in subsequent analysis of variance and a discriminant for the TIB and ego development levels. Two functions were generated for the TIB and ego groups which represented the more immature and less adaptive modes of functioning. The results of the analysis indicated that System IV subjects were extremely separated from the other groups on both discriminant functions. These findings are theoretically in accord with previously explicated system specific functioning. From the results of the discriminant function analysis, the percent of group membership correctly classified was 30.48%.^ An analysis of variance and a discriminant analysis was conducted on the ego development levels using the eight factor solution. Five functions were generated which primarily represented the more immature, less adaptive modes of reaction. The first function (Direct and Indirect Impulse Expression and Other-Directed Behavior) served to distinguish ego development levels 2, 3, and 4 from levels 5, 6, and 7. The second function (DMI and Diversion of Affect) differentiated levels 1, from 2, 4, and 6. The third function was comprised of two factors which represented Diversion of Affect and Other-Directed Behavior which distinguished ego development levels 2, 4, and 5 from the other levels. The overall percent of correct classification of ego development levels was 39.05%.^ The distinguishing characteristics of the defense and coping mechanism clusters that discriminated conceptual system functioning and ego development levels were notably the ones that were immature, distort feelings and negated the perceptual reality of the situation. In addition, the factors derived from the principal component analyses were characterized by predominant loadings on the defense characteristics.^ The present investigation found a limited relationship between defense and coping mechanisms and conceptual and ego development levels. Future research was recommended in order to clarify the issues of measurement, the synthesis of coping and defense theory and the applicability of the results of this study. Recommendations for future research included longitudinal studies, different forms of assessment, and experimentation related to changes in long-term counseling. ^

Subject Area

School counseling

Recommended Citation

CHIESA, MARIAN JESSICA, "EGO DEVELOPMENT AND CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT SYSTEMS AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO COPING AND DEFENSE PROCESSES IN WOMEN" (1980). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8020977.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8020977

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