A study of creativity in adolescence as related to ego development and parental attachment

Lauren Jean Hanson, Pace University


Adolescence, like no other, is a time of creative mourning and celebrating; it is a process of separating as well as self defining. The basis of creativity has been thought of as being fueled by a never ending state of adolescence. The present study explores creativity among 140 9th grade adolescents and its relationship to their ego development and parental representations. The Circles test from the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (Torrance 1966) was used as a measure of creativity. The Washington University Sentence Completion Test (Loevinger 1970) accessed ego development and the Inventory of Parental Representation (IPR) (Hart 1997) accessed maternal and paternal attachments. Psychoanalytic and developmental literature, empirical studies and literary references illustrate how the constructs of creativity and ego development may correspond. Both are linked to depth of internal resources, including the capacity to tolerate ambiguity, to differentiate self and other and to cope in a world of affect, abstraction and complexity. Creativity has also been linked both to parents who encourage individuation and to a prolonged need to repair a depressed, dependent or otherwise needy parent. In analyzing results for the total sample no relationship was found between creativity and ego development. However, when analyzing males and females separately partial support was revealed for a relationship between creativity and ego development for males. A qualitative analysis of the creativity data also revealed interesting patterns of expression that link creativity and ego level for both females and males. Females scored significantly higher than males on measures of creativity and ego development. In addition, in evaluating the relationship between the parental representation factor of Reparation and creativity a significant sex of subject by Reparation interaction effect was found. Females who attained high scores on the parental Reparation factor tended to show more creativity, while males showed significant decreases in creativity when high in Reparation. Creativity findings and sex differences are further interpreted along the lines of Chodorow, Gilligan and Greenson, particularly in terms of how male identity and creativity may be vulnerable in the context of the maternal relationship. Content validity is also discussed as well as ideas for future research.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Social psychology|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Hanson, Lauren Jean, "A study of creativity in adolescence as related to ego development and parental attachment" (1997). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9724157.



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