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as Positive Development, Loss of Self Love/Identity Diffusion, Self and Object Destructive/Loss of Ideals, Narcissistic/Withdrawn, and Repressed/Self-Idealizing.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

Psychology, Developmental

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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