The growth of adult ego development to post-conventional levels is associated with many adaptive advantages for the individual and society. However, the vast majority of adults across a wide range of samples demonstrate ego stages well below the maximum potential. In an effort to advance understanding of why and how development to higher ego levels might occur for some individuals and not others, we explored whether particular personality preferences and combinations thereof (as measured by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI) are associated with higher ego levels and whether particular personality preferences might act as inhibiting or facilitating factors in ego development. Participants were 374 adults (aged 18–61; 50 % female) undertaking 11 community leadership development and 2 professional management development programs. After adjusting for effects of age and education, a preference for Intuition on the MBTI was associated with significantly higher ego development on program entry and with greater ego development during the programs. These results are consistent with previous research and provide support for Manners’ and Durkin’s (Developmental Review, 20:475–513, 2000) proposal that dispositional personality characteristics may enhance or constrain ego development.
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We thank Neil McAdam for his thoughtful comments on this paper and Mike Morris, Senior Research Scientist, CPP, Inc. for his patient assistance with MBTI data conversion. In addition, we wish to acknowledge helpful comments from two anonymous reviewers.
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Vincent, N., Ward, L. & Denson, L. Personality Preferences and Their Relationship to Ego Development in Australian Leadership Program Participants. J Adult Dev 20, 197–211 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10804-013-9171-9
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
- Washington University Sentence Completion Test (WUSCT)
- Leadership development level
- Community leadership