The Relationship Between Various Cognitive Developmental Variables and Identity Formation

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Patricia J. Faulkender

Advisor Department



The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between various measures of cognitive efficiency and the attainment of ego identity. Forty college freshman and sophomore males were given an ego-identity status interview and three cognitive-developmental measures (field-independence, reflection-impulsivity, cognitive flexibility). A significant relationship was found between ego identity status and field-independence, as measured by the Embedded Figures Test. Identity achievers were found to be the most field-independent and identity diffusions the least, with moratoriums and foreclosures in between, respectively. A significant relationship was also found between ego identity status and impulsivity as measured by the Matching Familiar Figures Test. Achievers and moratoriums were generally reflective in cognitive style, while foreclosures and diffusions were typically impulsive. The construct of cognitive flexibility, assessed by means of the Luchin's Water Jars Test, showed a significant difference in the performance of identity achievers from each of the other statuses (achievers being more flexible). No differences were found between any of the other statuses on this variable. The results were discussed in terms of the contribution made by each of the dependent variables measured in the successful resolution of the identity crisis.