Typologies of adolescent self-representations in relation to parental representations, ego development and psychological symptomatology

Deborah Barbiere, Pace University


The present investigation is an exploratory study designed to establish typologies of self-representations among "normal" adolescents and examine these constellations in the context of psychological symptomotology, parental-representations and ego development. A high school sample of 220 males and 245 females completed the Inventory of Positions in Adolescence (IPA) as part of a larger longitudinal study. Heirchical agglomerative cluster analysis resulted in a five cluster solution. Subgroups are identified as Positive Development, Loss of Self Love/Identity Diffusion, Self and Object Destructive/Loss of Ideals, Narcissistic/Withdrawn, and Repressed/Self-Idealizing. Empirically derived subgroups were compared on external validity measures including the Parental Bonding Instrument, the Loevinger Sentence Completion Test and the Youth Self-Report. Analysis of Variance was performed on variables of age, grade and ego development. Multiple Analysis of Variance was applied to variables of parental representations and behavioral/emotional problems. Chi Square Analysis was used to determine gender differences. Significant differences were found between subgroups on all criteria except age and grade. In general, results indicate that positive self-representations dominated by images of self-definition, idealistic striving and object loyalty are associated with higher ego development, optimal parental bonding patterns and an absence of significant behavioral/emotional problems. Conversely, negative self-representations with pervasive experiences of demoralization, separation-anxiety, stimulation seeking and/or peer alienation were related to lower ego development, inadequate parental attachments and behavioral/emotional problems. Narcissistic and exploitative patterns were related to the lowest levels of ego development, however, were associated with few behavioral/emotional problems and varied parental representations. These findings indicate that the Inventory of Positions in Adolescence is a useful tool in assessing adolescent self-representation. Results are discussed in terms of limitations and implications for prevention, treatment and future research.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Barbiere, Deborah, "Typologies of adolescent self-representations in relation to parental representations, ego development and psychological symptomatology" (1994). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9413699.



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