Exploring the interaction among undergraduates' boundaries and the identity status and identity style constructs

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Virginia Tech

This dissertation focuses on the process of identity development and the role of boundaries in that process. Toward this end a study was conducted to explore the interaction between Hartman's (1991) boundaries, Marcia's (1966) identity statuses, and Berzonsky's (1989) identity styles. Data for this study was collected via survey from a convenience sample of undergraduate college students (n = 549) between ages 18 and 24 and across 4 courses at a large state institution in rural Southeastern United States. A 2-way ANOVA was used in this study to explore differences in boundary scores for both Marcia's (1966) identity statuses and Berzonsky's (1989) identity styles. No significant main effect was found for identity status, and no interactional effect was found between identity status and identity style, but a significant main effect was found for identity style. Post-hoc analyses for identity style revealed the diffuse/avoidant style as significantly higher in boundary score than the informational style, which in turn was significantly higher in boundary score than the normative style, with higher boundary scores indicating thinner boundaries. A discussion of these results and their implications for counseling practice are provided.

Identity development, Identity structure, Boundaries, Identity, Identity formation