A developmental approach to variability in experience of self

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Much more attention has been devoted to the consistency of behavior and experience than to their variable nature. This study aims to reestablish the balance between these two by focusing on variability in experience of self. Three types of variability are defined: (a) phenomenal variability, (b) contextual variation, and (c) polarization in self. The major hypothesis states that as one progresses in level of ego development (as conceptualized by Loevinger, 1976) there is increased variability in self-experience. The empirical methodology is primarily phenomenological in that its various measurement devices look at the experience of the people studied from their own viewpoints and utilize their own personal dimensions of reality construction. The major hypothesis was strongly confirmed. It was found that ego development and variability of self-experience were positively associated. With higher ego development there was more identification of variability in phenomenal experience of self, more valuing of the quality of variability, more contextual variation, and more polarization in self. It also was found that at lower levels of ego development, variation in the negatively evaluated aspects of the self was more restricted compared to variation in the positively evaluated aspects. Finally, higher levels of ego development were associated with greater recognition of negative aspects of self.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-82
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Humanistic Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1985


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