Gender differences in the high school years: The relationship between ego development, individuation, parental representations, psychosocial development and depression

Kelly Adams, Pace University


This study investigated differences and similarities in the development of boys and girls during the critical high school years as a function of adolescents' developmental orientation. Ego development, individuation, parental representations, psychosocial development and depressive symptoms were compared, using two new measures, the PADI and the IPR, which were developed under the auspices of Pace University. It was expected that different patterns of progress and regression would emerge, with girls revealing a more complex pattern of development than boys, who were expected to show a more linear pattern. It was anticipated that females would score higher on depression, which is consistent with most research and which was supported in this study. Females were expected to report forms of depression related directly to the separation/individuation process; whereas males were expected to report greater symptoms of masked depression, such as grandiosity and stimulation-seeking/risk taking; these hypotheses were supported. It was further anticipated that ego development level would predict greater facilitation of individuation by parents, and that those at the lowest Pre-Conformist level would have the most problematic perceptions of their parents. These hypotheses were supported, as was the hypothesis that ego level would distinguish Erikson's psychosocial stages of development, with higher levels in ego development corresponding to greater resolution of Erikson's psychosocial stages. Unsupported was the hypothesis that males would be higher than females on the Industry subscale of the Eriksonian measure, the EPSI. The reverse was true, which was largely due to the heightened Industry of Conformist females. Results indicated that psychological conformity operated differently for the sexes. Lending some support to the idea that female development may be more complex than male development, findings indicated that females were simultaneously working toward resolution of Identity and Intimacy issues, while males were primarily concerned with development of Identity. However, the more linear pattern for males, as hypothesized, was not supported. Different patterns of progression and regression emerged for males and females. Unanticipated was the finding that males' perceptions of their fathers and mothers would be more problematic than females' perceptions of either mothers or fathers. Interventions and applications with regard to school and clinical psychology are discussed with regard to gender.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Adams, Kelly, "Gender differences in the high school years: The relationship between ego development, individuation, parental representations, psychosocial development and depression" (2003). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3109783.



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