, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 223-251

The state of research on ego identity: A review and appraisal

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Abstract

Considerable research on ego identity has appeared over the past 15 years, indicating the need for an overall review. Part I commences by considering the complexity of Erikson's concept and suggesting several different theoretical contexts in which it has been used. The validity of investigators' attempts to operationalize the concept “ego identity” is assumed to depend in part upon their interpretations of its meaning. The subsequent review of empirical literature is organized according to different procedures which have been used to measure ego identity. A first section summarizes and evaluates research utilizing Q-sort and self-report questionnaire measures, while a second considers the large number of investigations that have employed James Marcia's Identity Status Interview. The latter group of studies are ordered according to the type of dependent variable (e.g., cognitive, behavioral, personality, developmental) examined in relation to ego identity status (i.e., achievement, moratorium, foreclosure, diffusion). Part II of the review, to appear in the next issue of this journal, will recapitulate the identity status literature, present an overall evaluation of the identity status paradigm, and suggest a number of issues for future research.

Support for this study comes from research training grant No. 5-T32MH14668-02 awarded to Dr. D. Offer by the National Institute of Mental Health.
Postdoctoral Fellow in the Clinical Research Training Program in Adolescence jointly sponsored by the Institute for Psychosomatic and Psychiatric Research and Training of Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center and the Committee on Human Development of the University of Chicago. Present research interests include adolescent ego development and epistemological/methodological issues in personality theory and measurement.