Date of Award

1987

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

School

School of Education

Program

Counseling Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Wilfred G. A. Futcher

Second Advisor

Marion J. Merchant

Third Advisor

Thesba Johnston

Abstract

Problem. The importance of interpersonal issues to female identity achievement has been noted by a number of researchers (e.g., Gilligan, 1982; Bardwick, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1979; Thorbecke & Grotevant, 1982). This study attempted to determine what degree of compatibility existed between higher degrees of identity resolution in females, and an interpersonal and values orientation reflecting a balance between self-achievement and mutually rewarding interpersonal achievements. It was hypothesized that the ideal balance represented by the concept of interdependence would be more closely related to higher identity scores than would autonomous self-achievement or traditional achievement-through-others.

Method. The study was based on data collected from 247 female college students between the ages of 17 and 22. Students were sampled by a two-part questionnaire measuring values orientation and identity, and by a separate questionnaire measuring Schutz's (1966) three basic relationship areas of inclusion, control, and affection.

Results.

1. Values orientation showed a tendency for identity scores to be higher, the more self-achieving the woman.

2. Interpersonal Orientation revealed significant differences on sexual identity among groups in the affection area. Interdependent students scored significantly higher than others. There were significant differences in all relationship areas among groups where dependent behaviors were implied. Persons indicating such behaviors had lower identity scores.

3. Females from all-female schools were higher on identity achievement than females from coeducational institutions. They were also significantly older.

Conclusions and Recommendations. Scoring patterns deviated consistently from normal distributions. Sometimes reliability coefficients and point-multiserial correlation coefficients revealed a less than effective assessment of constructs with this population. These conclusions were reached:

1. The population studied was unique.

2. The results could not be generalized for the female adult population as a whole; however, for this group, autonomy appeared to be the preferred orientation for identity achieving students.

3. Attempts to measure abstract concepts with existing instruments may not be adequate, especially with females.

Consequently, these recommendations are made:

1. The study should be replicated with a more representative adolescent female population.

2. Concepts of identity and interdependence need to be refined.

3. Efforts must be made to develop a comprehensive instrument to measure identity, based on sound psychological theories of women's development.

Subject Area

Women college students--United States, Femininity.

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