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Multiculturalism and Social Work | San Francisco State University

Re-visiting Erikson's developmental model: The impact of identity crisis resolution on intimacy motive, generativity formation, and psychological adaptation in never-married, middle-aged adults.

Author: Berliner, Atara J.
Author Background: Long Island U, The Brooklyn Center, US
Date 7/2000
Type Dissertation
Journal Title: Dissertation-Abstracts-International:-Section-B:-The-Sciences-and-Engineering
Volume/Pages Vol 61(1-B): 560
Subject Matter Research, Gender, Erikson, Generativity-; *Identity-Crisis; *Intimacy-; *Psychosocial-Development
Abstract The present study expanded upon Erikson's psychosocial stage model of adult development by investigating the identity, intimacy, and generativity formation of a birth cohort, ages 35-45. Scores for the different domains comprising identity status ideological and interpersonal identity, as well as the difference between those domain scores (the 'Disparity Index'), were correlated with psychological adaptation. In addition, Erikson's model and Levinson's models of the male and female life structures were applied to the 'non-normative' population of the never-married to determine how not having a life partner or children impacted on their resolution of these adulthood life stages. It was hypothesized that a greater difference between ideological and interpersonal identity would be associated with poorer psychological adaptation and that higher identity status categories would be positively associated with intimacy, generativity, and psychological adaptation. Significant interaction effects of gender and marital status on intimacy and generativity were also proposed. The sample consisted of 80 subjects between the ages of 35 and 45, comprising 20 married women, 20 never-married women, 20 married men and 20 never-married men. Subjects completed the Extended Objective Measure of Ego Identity Status - 2 (Adams, Bennion & Huh, 1989; Bennion & Adams, 1986), The McAdams Measure of Intimacy Motivation (McAdams, 1980, 1984), The Loyola Generativity Scale (McAdams & de St. Aubin, 1992), and The Brief Symptom Inventory (Derogatis, 1977, 1992). Findings revealed a significant negative association between the Disparity Index and generativity (the greater the difference between a subject's ideological and interpersonal identity, the lower his or her generativity level) and a significant positive association between the higher identity status categories (achieved and moratorium) and generativity as well as psychological adaptation. Results also supported previous research findings that identity achievement was correlated positively with intimacy. Interestingly, though, the lowest identity status category, diffusion, was also significantly correlated with intimacy. No significant interaction effects of gender and marital status on intimacy or generativity were discovered. Additional findings included the higher percentages of identity achieved and lower percentages of moratoriums in the present sample than in normative high school and college-age samples. Contrary to previous findings, there was no significant difference between the psychological adaptation of never-married men and never-married women. Limitations of the study included the homogeneity of the sample and that its relatively small size resulted in only a few subjects falling into the lower identity status categories. This rendered meaningful generalizations about the distribution of those statuses among the middle-aged questionable. Methodological difficulties involved measuring subtle differences among subjects as well as using measures normed on a younger sample. The study highlighted the importance of generating data on identity, intimacy, and generativity for different age groups. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2000 APA, all rights reserved)