Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between ego identity and assertive behavior in women as a means to understand more completely the ways in which women cope with change in their lives. It was conjectured that there is a relationship between the ego identity status of a woman and both her probability of engaging in assertive behavior and her comfort in doing so. The construct of identity was derived from Erikson's theoretical framework and Marcia's formulation of identity status;The 208-subject sample, ranging from 25 to 64 years, was taken from a random sample of 600 women in a midwestern farm state. A questionnaire mailed to the sample consisted of two measurements: The Assertion Inventory (Gambrill & Richey, 1975) and the Objective Measure of Ego Identity Status Expanded, a modification of the Objective Measure of Ego Identity Status (Adams, Shea, & Fitch, 1979). Women in the achieved identity status were found to be significantly different from those in moratorium, diffusion, and foreclosure statuses by reporting less feelings of discomfort in behaving assertively and greater likelihood of being assertive in interpersonal interactions. Expected findings of nonassertiveness of women in the foreclosure and diffusion statuses were supported, as were expected high discomfort levels of women in moratorium and diffusion status. Women in the foreclosure status reported greater discomfort with assertive behavior than expected. Women in the moratorium status (71%) reported less probability of being assertive than predicted. Caution must be taken in interpreting results due to the small size of the sample in three of the statuses. Results suggest that identity status is related to how well one manages change and transition.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Rachel Stock Christensen



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191 pages