Ego development and self-representation among high school adolescents in music performing groups

Janice M Dvorkin, Pace University


The relationship between human emotional development and the use of music in impacting on that development has been explored in the psychoanalytic and developmental literature in the form of case studies. However, there is only one study which compares the general student population with students who choose to study music at various levels of intensity. These levels range from the student who elects to study music as part of an academic education to students who perform music professionally. It is the attempt of this study to begin to look empirically at some of the developmental factors which might differentiate those students who choose to participate in high school music performing groups from those who do not. In the developmental and psychoanalytic literature, the ability to successfully separate from primary caretakers is considered to be a major task of the adolescent stage. Ego development and changes in the quality of self and object representation are considered to be important factors in the achievement of this task. In addition, progress towards individuation and identity formation is significant. Measures used in this study include the Loevinger's Sentence Completion Test, the Erikson Psychosocial Inventory, and the Profile of Developmental Positions in Adolescence. The subjects of this study are students who attended a northern Westchester high school, who have been participating in a five year longitudinal investigation of adolescent development. Included in this study are 110 protocols of students in the music performing groups randomly matched to 110 students from the general population by grade and sex. Music students attained significantly higher levels of ego development compared to the control group and higher scores on Trust and Industry. On the Profile of Developmental Positions in Adolescence, the music students were less stimulation seeking and counterdepressive in their behavior. They were also more likely to be loyal to their primary objects and to be committed to their ego ideals. Sex differences also effected the outcome of this study. Female students in the music performing groups were found to score significantly higher on the Intimacy scale, of the EPPSI, than males or students in the control group. Males in both groups scored higher on the DPA Dominating/Grandiose Scale. Discussion focuses on the implication of these findings in connection with the function of music as a form of emotional expression and relationship.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Developmental psychology|Music education|Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

Dvorkin, Janice M, "Ego development and self-representation among high school adolescents in music performing groups" (1992). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9219140.



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