Ego identity development in black college students: the effects of self-esteem, ethnic identity and family environment

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Virginia Tech


Ego identity formation in African American college students was examined within the frameworks of Erikson’s psychosocial theory and Hill’s paradigm of Black family strengths. Ego identity was measured by the Revised Version of the Extended Objective Measure of Ego Identity Status, an instrument based on the theoretical constructs of Erikson. Family strengths were measured by the Family Environment Scale and the personality variables self-esteem and ethnic identity were measured by the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale and the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure, respectively. It was hypothesized that statistically significant relationships would be found between ego identity and the family environmental and personality variables. One hundred sixty-nine African American college students attending a predominantly White university participated in the study. The results supported a relationship between ego identity and family environmental and personality variables. The study further revealed that personality variables contribute more significantly than family environmental variables to identity achievement. Self-esteem was found to be a Significant predictor of ego identity and differentiated among the four ego identity statuses, Ethnic identity also proved to contribute significantly to the ego formation of African Americans. Of the family variables, religious-orientation, cohesion and organization were found to be significant predictors for some but not all of the ego statuses. Both father’s education and family income were Significant predictors of ego identity status, but age and sex were found to be nonsignificant in predicting ego identity.