SELF-ESTEEM, DEFENSIVENESS AND LEVEL OF INTERPERSONAL MATURITY

GLENN KEITH KREIELSHEIMER, Fordham University

Abstract

A study was conducted to test hypotheses derived from the empirical literature on self-esteem and defensiveness, and psychoanalytic literature on narcissism, that defensively high self-esteem would be associated with an immature level of interpersonal development, externalization as a defensive style in conflict resolution, and devaluation of others.^ A methodology derived from empirical literature on self-esteem and defensiveness was employed to test the separate and interacting effects of these variables in predicting level of interpersonal maturity, degree of externalization as a defensive style and acceptance of others. Self-esteem was measured by using the Janis-Field Feelings of Inadequacy Scale, and self-esteem related defensiveness by using the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale. Degree of externalization was assessed by using the Defense Mechanisms Inventory, and acceptance of others by using the Acceptance of Others Scale.^ Because one of the theoretical foundations of the study was the psychoanalytic theory of narcissism, which is derived from psychoanalytic object relations theory, the Object Representation Scale for Dreams was used to assess level of interpersonal maturity.^ Subjects for the study included 120 male college student volunteers. To control for the effects of extraneous variables, subjects were restricted to those who were between the ages of 17 and 22, single, white, native born, and from a middle class background.^ Hypotheses were tested using partial correlation and multiple regression procedures designed to test the separate and interacting effects of self-esteem and defensiveness in predicting level of interpersonal maturity, degree of externalization and acceptance of others.^ The hypotheses were not supported by the data. There was no relationship between either self-esteem or defensiveness and level of interpersonal maturity. In the multiple regression analyses, only a main effect for defensiveness was obtained. Defensiveness as measured in this study was unexpectedly related to low externalization and high acceptance of others.^ The results suggested that the use of self-report measures to assess both self-esteem and defensiveness may be of more limited value than previously expected in the study of the psychodynamics of narcissism. In addition, the results suggested that defensively high self-esteem may exist along a continuum from a healthier, socially adaptive type, to a more pathological, perhaps antisocial type. It was recommended that future theoretical and empirical work in this area address the issue of levels of defensively high self-esteem. ^

Subject Area

Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

KREIELSHEIMER, GLENN KEITH, "SELF-ESTEEM, DEFENSIVENESS AND LEVEL OF INTERPERSONAL MATURITY" (1986). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8615736.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8615736

Share

COinS