The Development of the Sense of Self in Adolescence


  • We would like to thank Bob Lynch, Nancy Guzzi, and John Chicarello of Dallin Elementary School, Arlington, MA, and Thomas McGovern of Watertown High School, Watertown, MA, for their cooperation and support. We are also grateful to Don Costello for making the necessary arrangements, to Molly Hapgood for helping us in establishing coder reliability, to Tracy Rufo for transcribing the interviews, and to Michael Milburn for helping us with the statistical analyses. Appreciation is also expressed to Deborah Brome, Dennis Byrnes, Dan Lapsley, and Abby Stewart for comments on various aspects of this study.

concerning this article should be addressed to Augusto Blasi, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts-Boston, Boston, MA 02125.


ABSTRACT This study attempts to clarify the sense of self that may underlie the adolescent's subjective experience of identity. The initial orientation was / provided by descriptions of three different modes of experiencing identity derived from a reanalysis of Loevinger, Wessler, and Redmore's (1970) ego development categories. Our goal was to replicate by a more direct method the Loevinger-derived descriptions. Specifically, we looked at whether the various aspects of the pre-identity mode (“Social Role identity”) and of the early identity mode (“identity Observed”) would in fact form different clusters and j whether these clusters would differentiate early and middle adolescent groups. Participants were 24 sixth graders and 24 high-school seniors, equally divided by sex. In individual inter views they were asked questions concerning the main characteristics of the identity Observed Mode. Six self scales were constructed from subjects' responses. Our two major hypotheses were strongly supported: (a) The two age groups differed dramatically on each of the self scales; and (b) the six self scales highly correlated with each other. Moreover, clusters of responses could be constructed that model the a priori descriptions of identity modes and that sharply separate the two grades.