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Ego Development, Ego Strengths, and Ethnic Identity Among First Nation Adolescents


  • This research was supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Community-University Research Alliance (SSHRC-CURA) Grant. Special thanks to the students who participated in this study.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Barbara M. Gfellner, Department of Psychology, Brandon University, Brandon, MB, Canada R7A 6A9. E-mail:


Three conceptualizations of psychosocial development were investigated among Canadian First Nation adolescents. Loevinger's social cognitive model of ego development reflects the way in which an individual views the self and social reality. From Eriksonian theory, ego strengths refer to the emergent values or outcomes that represent resolution of the eight psychosocial stages of development, and ethnic identity is a domain of personal identity with special relevance for minorities. As expected, age and biological gender differences were found for ego development. Associations between ego development and ego strengths were supported as were age differences in ethnic identity status. Traditional students (strongly identified with indigenous culture) demonstrated greater ego strengths than bicultural (identified with both their own and mainstream cultures) adolescents.

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