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Cognitive Complexity and Ego Identity Formation: a Synthesis of Cognitive and Ego Psychology

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This study examined the relationship between the concepts of cognitive complexity and ego identity formation. Male university students were interviewed and divided into three ego identity statuses: diffusions, moratoriums (both in crisis) and achievements (resolution). The hypothesis that the cognitive structure of in crisis statuses would be characterized by higher levels of differentiation and articulation compared with the resolution status received partial support. Identity diffusions possesses more functionally independent constructs; identity moratoriums have constructs high in discrimination power. In addition, in crisis individuals tend to have a generalized cognitive strategy for construing liked and disliked interpersonal figures, while resolution subjects are more adept at employing a vigilance strategy whereby it is more adaptive to construe disliked others more complexly. The findings support the notion that a synthesis of aspects of cognitive and ego psychology is not only feasible but highly desirable.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 1979

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