The interaction between formal operational thought and ego identity development in late adolescence and early adulthood



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Texas Tech University


The purpose of the study was to explore the relationship between cognitive development and identity formation. Four other researchers have studied this interaction but have not been able to establish a definitive relationship due to small samples, age of the subjects, and measurement problems. This study examined 201 late adolescents and young adults with an objective measure of identity and a non-manipulative, objective measure of operational thought.

Two-hundred-and-one college students completed the Longeot Scale of Logical Reasoning and the Objective Measure-Ego Identity Scale (OM-EIS). The Longeot Scale was used to determine if the subject was thinking at the concrete, early formal, or late formal level. The OM-EIS was utilized to categorize the subjects into identity statuses—diffusion, foreclosure, moratorium, or identity achievement. Chi square analyses, analyses of variance, and correlations were performed.

Chi square analyses supported the hypotheses that concrete thinkers would have greater percentages in the diffusion or foreclosure statuses whereas formal thinkers would be more frequent within moratorium and achievement statuses, £ <.01. Analyses of variance showed a significant relationship for diffusion by cognitive level, £ < .01; foreclosure by cognitive level, £ <.001; and moratorium by cognitive level, £<.01; but achievement by cognitive level was not significant. Mean comparisons also supported the relationship found in the analyses of variance with the differences between the mean identity scores occurring in the predicted direction for each cognitive level.

Correlation coefficients gave additional support to the relationship with diffusion scores decreasing as the cognitive scores increased, r_ = -.17, £<.01; with foreclosure scores decreasing as the cognitive scores increased, r = -.33, £<.001; with moratorium scores decreasing as the cognitive scores increased, £ = -.20, £ <.01; and with achievement scores increasing as cognitive scores increased, r = .14, £ <.05.



Ego (Psychology), Identity (Psychology), Adolescent psychology, Cognition