Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Education


College of Education and Human Services

Subject Headings

Clinical Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Counseling Education, Social Research, Sociology, Educational Sociology


The goal of this study was to examine the relationship between ego identity in adults (ego development), symptoms of psychological distress, and self-esteem. Ego identity was operationalized using Loevinger’s (1976) stage theory of ego development, further modified by Cook-Greuter (1994; 2010). The test used to measure ego development was the Sentence Completion Test Integral (SCTi). Symptoms of mental disorders or psychological distress were measured using Derogatis’ (1994) Symptom Checklist 90 Revised (SCL-90-Revised). Self-esteem was measured using the Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale (RSES). It has been thought there would be noticeable differences in the relationship between ego development and the types of psychological symptoms or between ego development and self-esteem but no studies have been done to explore this (Cook-Greuter, personal communication, 2016). In summary, my hypotheses were that graduate students would have later ego development than the norms for the general population, that participants at conventional stages of ego development would report different psychological symptoms than participants at later stages of ego development, that participants in this sample who score at post-conventional levels of ego development would report more depression while those at conventional levels of ego development would endorse more anxiety, and that participants at post-conventional stage of ego development would report higher self-esteem than those at conventional levels of ego development.
In this study, ego development functioned as a non-metric (ordinal) variable studied in comparison to two ratio variables (psychological symptoms endorsed and self-esteem). The SCTi tests were scored by professional raters certified by Cook-Greuter and Associates. The SCL-90-R and Rosenberg self-esteem scale were scored by the researcher and the dissertation director. Analysis of variance of all study variables was run by ego development level. Also, a process called data imputation was conducted to see if the trend-level results of the analysis would have been stronger with a larger sample. Though it was not one of my hypotheses, subjects at so-called “transitional” ego stages reported a broader array of psychological symptoms than subjects at so-called “stable” stages of ego development.