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Gender differences in identity formation as a function of self-other relationships

Abstract

Effects of differential male-female relational definitions of self on resolutions to the first six of Erikson's identity crises were examined in a sample of 388 adolescent males and females. Subject categorization of relational self-definitions was based on the Relational Self-Definition Scale. Resolutions to identity crises were measured by the Erikson Psychosocial Stage Inventory (EPSI). Predictions were drawn from theoretical notions related to Gilligan's view of distinctive male-female trends in self-other development and indicated that males with self-definitions separate from others and females with self-definitions connected with others would report higher degrees of positive resolutions on EPSI subscales compared to males with connected self-definitions and females with separate self-definitions. Results revealed that specific predictions were supported for resolutions to Trust, Initiative, and Intimacy crises independent of individual differences in age, educational level, vocabulary, and socioeconomic status of subjects. This suggests that gender differences in identity development may be linked to distinctive malefemale trends in the use of relational self-definitions consistent with Gilligan's views.

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Received Ph.D. from Wayne State University in applied/personality psychology. Research interests include self-other development in adolescence and adulthood.

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Mellor, S. Gender differences in identity formation as a function of self-other relationships. J Youth Adolescence 18, 361–375 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02139255

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Keywords

  • Gender Difference
  • Socioeconomic Status
  • Individual Difference
  • Educational Level
  • Health Psychology