Personality Development: Theoretical, Empirical, and Clinical Investigations of Loevinger's Conception of Ego Development

Personality Development: Theoretical, Empirical, and Clinical Investigations of Loevinger's Conception of Ego Development

Personality Development: Theoretical, Empirical, and Clinical Investigations of Loevinger's Conception of Ego Development

Personality Development: Theoretical, Empirical, and Clinical Investigations of Loevinger's Conception of Ego Development

Synopsis

Jane Loevinger's innovative research methodology, psychometric rigor, and theoretical scope have attracted the attention of numerous scholars and researchers. Empirical investigations employing Loevinger's Washington University Sentence Completion Test of ego development (WUSCT) have appeared with increasing frequency and total more than 300 studies. Following the publication of the first comprehensive revision of the scoring manual for the WUSCT, this volume reflects on the strengths and limitations of Loevinger's developmental model.

It is divided into sections that correspond with four broad questions that can be raised about Loevinger's developmental model:

• What is its scope and intellectual tradition?

• What evidence is there for construct validity?

• What is its relationship to other social-developmental models?

• What is its clinical relevance to Loevinger's model of ego development?

This four-part grouping provides a framework for effectively organizing the present material, and frequently, the questions raised in one section are addressed in other sections as well. In the concluding chapter, Loevinger addresses some of the ideas that are proposed by the various authors. She also presents the origin of the ego development concept by recounting its history.

Excerpt

Personality theories often lack an appreciation of development, and developmental theories often lack an appreciation of individual differences. Jane Loevinger's work on ego development bridges the gap between these two domains. "Individual differences in character," she noted (1976), "have interested men for centuries. Interest in how character is formed in childhood and youth is also ancient. But to see those two phenomena as manifestations of a single developmental continuum is a modern twist. That insight is the origin of ego development as a formal discipline" (p. 3). Loevinger regards ego development as the central dimension of personality, second only to intelligence in its pervasiveness and influence. Her empirically based descriptions of the stages of ego development must be counted amongst the most important achievements of personality and developmental psychology (see Appendix for an overview of the stages of ego development).

Until recently, personality and developmental psychology pursued seemingly incompatible goals. Personality research sought to identify individual differences in polar variables, a goal that could not meaningfully incorporate evidence of qualitative changes in personality growth. In contrast, developmental psychology sought to identify age related qualitative changes, a goal that could not meaningfully incorporate evidence of individual differences within age cohorts. The theory and measurement of ego development addresses both goals simultaneously.

Loevinger's measurement strategy provides investigators with a method for converting qualitative data into psychometrically sound quantitative data. More importantly, it permits a continual exchange between data and theory, leading to progressive refinements of theory . . .

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