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Social Science Institute, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri

HE research worker in clinical psychology is beset on two sides. On the one hand there are those, often biochemists, who assure us that nothing we can do in our field can achieve the status of true science. On the other hand there are those, often psychoanalysts, who assure us that new insights are vouchsafed only to those actively engaged in depth psychotherapy. The intent of this essay is to stake out a territory against both assaults. The area of ego development has been recognized as a meeting place of clinical and research interest, of psychologist and psychoanalyst, but the construct urgently needs crystallization. The continuum referred to in the present essay as ego development resembles what has been described elsewhere in terms of moral development (Kohlberg, 1964), character development (Peck & Havighurst, 1960), interpersonal integration (Sullivan, Grant, & Grant, 1957), relatability (Isaacs, 1956), conceptual systems (Harvey, Hunt, & Schroder, 1961), intraception (Murray, 1938), and so on. At times, however, the term ego development has been used to cover a wider range, particularly the development of all ego functions, and at other times a narrower range, particularly the conflict-free ego sphere, or, by other authors, the earliest stage of ego formation. In proposing a program for the definition of this construct we will be led to reappraise some topics for personality and psychometric research currently much invested. In present context much current work on response bias and on conformity appears not only bootless but potentially misleading. The same is true for applications of factor analysis to personality measures. Thus in discussing a fundamental concept of personality theory, the present essay aims to provoke a reassessment of many areas of research.
Preparation of this paper was supported by Research Grant No. MH-OSllS from the National Institute of Mental Health, United States Public Health Service. It is a revision of an Invited Address presented at American Psychological Association, Los Angeles, September, 1964.

MEASUREMENT OF DEVELOPMENT Human development can be divided into four main streams or channels: physical, psychosexual, ego, and intellectual development. (As a first approximation, psychosexual development can be translated as development of drives and drive derivatives.) That division is not a particularly logical one: Cognitive elements enter ego as well as intellectual development, and both ego development and psychosexual development determine motivation. The division into four streams has been arrived at in trying to follow the principle that Egon Brunswik (1951) adapted from Spinoza: Let the order of ideas be the same as the order of things. Measurement of general intellectual level is one of the great achievements of psychology. There are four aspects relevant here. First, Binct broke with his predecessors by noting that some functions that require intelligence for their exercise still do not provide useful measures of intellectual development. Second, although Binet provided several pointing definitions of intelligence, he relied mainly on the meaning in the common domain, on tacit understanding of what intelligence is. Thus, instead of guiding his work by a formal definition of intelligence, Binet only indicated the kinds of things included within its domain, then refined his selection by successive approximations. Third, Binet used development as touchstone for dimension, always based on prior inclusions and exclusions of functions in the intellectual realm based on his tacit understanding. Fourth, by developing an age scale he laid the path for Terman and others, who showed that adult status can be predicted using current status together with age. The first three points apply to the notion of ego development advanced here. First, ego development is not the same as development of all functions exercised by the ego, and in particular intellectual development is not a fair measure of ego development, even though exercise of intelligence is an ego function. Confusing ego development



AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGIST of a phenomenon with a given name. If we are to measure, or even to contribute to psychology as a science, we must be somewhat abstract, and that entails seeking those aspects not age specific. Ruling out age-specific aspects is related to excluding age-contingent scores. A given response is scored the same regardless of the respondent's age. The interpretation of a raw score depends on age, but age is never taken into account in deciding whether a response is right, or wrong. This rule, adhered to in all intelligence tests, carries over to work on ego level. In view of recent emphasis on use of base rates in demographically defined subsamples to improve prediction (Meehl & Rosen, 1955), the injunction against contingent ratings in scoring manuals is not trivial. Improving prediction by capitalizing on extraneous contingencies rather than by increasing one's understanding is dangerous; where the extraneous contingencies reflect changeable circumstances, it may even backfire. There is no intention here to belittle the base-rates argument. Base rates remain just that, a base line to measure the achievement of understanding. If one can predict a boy's college performance better by knowing that his father was a professional man than by giving him an intelligence test, there is not much understanding incorporated in the test. Contrary to what one might think at first glance, the whole idea of an age scale breaks down if one allows age-specific contingencies to enter. The mental age (MA) scale is a measuring instrument appropriate to all ages just because it relies on those indices of mental development whose appearance depends on where one is in the sequence of mental development, independent of chronological age (CA). The differences between a 3-year-old whose MA is 5 and a 10-year-old whose MA is 5 are great, but these differences are just what MA is not. Before Binet, one could diagnose the difference between bright and dull 3-year-olds on the basis of criteria appropriate to their CA, and the same for older children. The MA scale represented a scientific achievement just because it transcended such age-specific tests. Piaget in his microanalysis of mental development seems also to be trying to transcend age-specific aspects, but so knowledgeable and sympathetic an interpreter as Flavell (1963, especially final section) can miss this point. Careful reading will reveal what American readers, with their normative bias, often miss,

with (.he development of all ego functions is a mistake to which some psychoanalysts are particularly prone. The term "conflict-free ego sphere" refers to functions that, however important they may be, shed little light on the vicissitudes of ego development in an extreme majority of cases. Second, I propose to make no formal definition of ego development. Rather, there is a pointing definition embodied in Table 1 taken, as was Binet's definition of intelligence, partly from the common domain, partly from other writers. This definition, like Binet's, has already been corrected and is further correctable by experience from many sources. Third, following Binet, development is used as touchstone for dimension, i.e., the term ego development is reserved for just what is common to a certain developmental sequence and a certain characterology that applies almost independently of age level. What is common to the developmental sequence and the characterology is an abstraction. To this abstraction and only to this is the term ego development most appropriately applied. The suggestion that the term ego development should be applied to an abstraction rather than to the concrete stages of growth observable in average children will seem strange at first, even though we are used to it in the concept of mental age. But all aspects of growth are occurring simultaneously; therefore, some criterion other than the normal sequence is needed to distinguish physical growth from intellectual, or intellectual from ego, and so on. Most accounts of ego development, those in child psychology texts as well as that of Krikson, tie the several stages to age-specific problems such as entry into kindergarten, adolescence, courtship, and marriage. Table 1 omits all such age-specific references. Only when we have an account free of age-specific contingencies can we ask such questions as: What is the typical age for a given ego transition? The optimal age? The earliest and latest possible ages? What conditions other than mere age are essential or favorable for each transition? These are not trivial questions, for gifted observers have located the first appearance of true guilt as early as the preschool period and as late as prepuberty; Erikson and Sullivan differ markedly in the age to which they assign the crisis of intimacy; and so on. Such observers are unlikely to be completely wrong; rather, they are looking at different people or at different aspects

EGO DEVELOPMENT that Piaget is not setting norms for different ages but rather using average age differences as a device for tracing developmental sequence. The representativeness of his samples is not a major concern; he need only have comparable samples at different ages. Binet also used age as a device for tracing developmental sequence, though of course he was interested in norms. Where Piaget goes beyond Binet is in reconstruction of the inner logic of the sequence, which is independent of age, a point to which we will return. The final characteristic of the Binet-Terman approach, the use of present status and age to predict final adult status, is not as yet applicable to ego level. There is no generally agreed-on age scale, though perhaps one could be evolved; certainly there is as yet no reason to believe that current status can be corrected by means of CA to provide a good estimate of final adult status. With regard to physical height, one can actually do better than an age correction in predicting final height. Variance in skeletal age tends to disappear in adult life. Therefore measures of it provide an estimate of percentage of adult status achieved that can improve the correction in terms of CA alone, in principle at least (Bayer & Bayley, 1959). At the other extreme of measurability, psychosexual development has not yet been conceived in terms of a model that lends itself well to any measurement. There is indeed a postulated sequence of stages, and undoubtedly there is some influence on later stages of the outcome of early stages, but there is no clear model for the nature of this influence. Thus if the measurement of psychosexual level means anything, it means measurement of a whole series of things, at least one for each postulated stage, each to be measured in terms of muchness, a notoriously difficult kind of judgment to make (see, e.g., Blum, 1949). Ego development must be distinguished, then, on the one side from intellectual development and on the other from psychosexual development, whatever may be the correlations between them. But the most difficult distinction to make is that between ego level and adjustment. In the early days of personality measurement it was assumed, in effect if not consciously, that adjustment is the same as conformity, and in particular as tendency to describe oneself in socially acceptable terms. In a recent version, bolstered by social learning theoiy, Heilbrun (1964) asserts, "Psychopathology repre-


sents a deviation from socially desirable standards of behavior and . . . the greater the psychopathology, the greater the deviation [p. 385]." Hence, "the dimensions of psychological health and social desirability are in large measure one and the same |'p. 385]." But nothing in Heilbrun's review answers or even contends with the observations from which Meehl and Hathaway (1946) began their study of what they called the K factor in the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), namely, that hundreds of normal persons and persons hospitalized for psychiatric reasons gave MMPI profiles in the borderline region, not distinguishable in terms of the keys for psychopathology. The K scale was evolved to increase the discriminating power of the test in this range. That self-reports of psychopathology have some value was of course assumed by Meehl and Hathaway; their concern was to correct some of the errors. The chief source of error turned out to be a generalized tendency to describe oneself in socially desirable terms at one extreme, contrasted with a generalized selfcriticism at the other extreme. This continuum they refer to as the K factor. They emphasized that the experimental scales most highly saturated with the test-taking attitude, K, had little or no value for discriminating normals from abnormals except when used as suppressor variables. Little that has been done in the area since 1946 is as comprehensive as the series of studies summarized by Meehl and Hathaway in 1946, and nothing contradicts their general argument. Block (1965), in a closely reasoned case, has shown that the general factor in the MMPI, essentially Meehl and Hathaway's K factor, cannot be reduced to mere acquiescence or mere social desirability, as some recent critics would have it. But his interpretation in terms of ego resilience does not suffice. Should not a measure of ego resilience differentiate normals from hospitalized psychiatric patients? An explanation for the radically different interpretations of the general factor in the MMPI will be proposed presently. To bring the Meehl-Hathaway argument into relation with the present topic one need only add that the tendency to describe oneself in socially desirable terms is a conspicuous aspect of the conformist stage of ego development. To be at the conformist stage neither precludes nor insures good adjustment. Our world is a conformist's world, as perhaps any must be, and many conformists are


AMEKICAN PSYCHOLOGIST hurst, 1960), and Isaacs (1956; Isaacs & Haggard, 1965); all of them have been concerned with the abstract junction of a developmental sequence and a character typology. In the first stage of the ego the problem is to distinguish self from nonself. This stage can be divided into the presocial and the symbiotic stages. In the presocial or autistic stage animate and inanimate parts of the environment are not distinguished. In the symbiotic stage the child has a strong relation to his mother (or surrogate) and is able to distinguish mother from environment, but self is not clearly distinguished from mother. The ego can hardly be said to exist prior to the end of this stage. Language is an important, perhaps the crucial, factor in bringing this period to an end; thus the earliest period is hardly accessible to those studying the ego by means of verbal tests. Psychoanalysts sometimes refer to this first period alone as the period of ego development, meaning the period of coming into existence of the ego. That usage contrasts with the present one, which includes the later transformations to which the ego is subjected or subjects itself. The construction and investment of a stable world of objects is a prerequisite for all later development in the realm of the ego, of intelligence, and of psychosexuality, as well as for all later adjustment. The lack of distinction in this first era between currents later
Impulse control and character development IntcrpciHonal style Autistic Symbiotic Conscious preoccupation Self S. P. nonself Bodily feelings, especially sexual and aggressive Advantage, control Things, appearance, reputation Differentiated inner feelings, achievements, traits Ditto, role conceptualization, development, Keif-fulfillment DUto, identity

happy in it; they are not all, however, immune to the most serious mental disturbances or to milder maladjustments. Recently, probably in part as reaction against the earlier equation of conformity with adjustment, there have been a number of writers who have described what they call positive mental health; in general, as seen in the summary by Marie Jahoda (19S8) of many such writings, what they are describing is the highest stage of ego development. Adjustment, at least in the first instance, means something different. Jahoda acknowledges the difficulty that all the specifics of positive mental health are applicable to adults rather than to children. Surely there are some well-adjusted children, children with positive mental health. A clear distinction between developmental variables and adjustment is essential to deepening our understanding of optimal conditions for development. Hence I question not the reality of the syndrome they are describing but the appropriateness of calling it positive mental health, which implies a relation to adjustment and neglects the relation to maturity. The frequent, perhaps careless, use of adjustment and maturity as synonyms in clinical and quasiclinical talk is an obstacle to progress and clarity, just as is the equation of adjustment with conformity. To distinguish ego level from intellectual level, from psychosexual level, and from adjustment is to ask for a clear conceptual distinction without in any way prejudicing the question of correlations or of complex triggering or facilitating effects. The latter can be ascertained only after a conceptual distinction has been attained. Consider for comparison height and weight. Certainly they are not independently variable; they influence each other in one way and another; yet conceptually they are entirely distinct. While an estimate of one may be influenced by the other, careful measurement will not be. This is the kind of conceptual clarification needed in the area of ego development. STAGES OF EGO DEVELOPMENT Having noted some of the things that ego level is not, let us turn to what it is. This will be done by pointing to and briefly characterizing the successive stages, as in Table 1. The construct is a collage, pasted together bits from many sources, too many to mention. Most important have been Sullivan, Grant, and Grant (1957), Peck (in Peck & Havig-

Stage Presocial Symbiotic

Impulse ridden Impulse ridden, Exploitive, fear of dependent retaliation Opportunistic Conformist Conscientious Kxpedient, fear of being caught Conformity to external rules, shame Internalized rules, guilt Coping with inner conflict, toleration of differences Reconciling inner confiicl.s renunciation of unattainable Kxploitive, manipulative, zero-sum game Reciprocal, superficial Intensive, responsible Intensive, concern for autonomy Ditto, cherishing of individuality



EGO DEVELOPMENT distinguishable is well known. To confine the term ego development to this era is to rob it both of meaning and of usefulness. The second stage is the impulsive one; the child confirms his separate existence from the mother by exercise of his own will. Control of impulse is lacking or at best undependable. Rules are not recognized as such; an action is bad because it is punished. Interpersonal relations are exploitive and dependent, but the dependence is not recognized as such. People are seen as sources of supply. Conscious concern with sexual and aggressive drives is high; at least for women and girls, unsocialized expressions of sexual and aggressive drives are pathognomonic for this stage. Some manifestations of this stage remain remarkably the same throughout the life span, hence are not age specific, e.g., temper tantrums. More typically, preoccupation with bodily functions assumes a different form at different ages. The 3-year-old makes joking remarks about "going pooh-pooh," while the adolescent who has not progressed beyond this stage shows not only that he is preoccupied with sex but that for him it is a bodily function exclusively rather than a social relation. The latter signs are more or less age specific. They are necessarily used in diagnosis but must not be used to define the continuum, lest we lose sight of the probandum, the abstract quality that describes both the (normally) impulse-ridden small child and the (developmentally retarded) impulse-ridden adolescent or adult. The third stage is the opportunistic one. It is understood that there are rules, but they are obeyed in terms of immediate advantage. Thus the morality is purely an expedient one. What is bad is to be caught. Interpersonal relations are manipulative and exploitive, but there is a marked shift away from dependence. The small child says, "Do it by self," and the adolescent at this stage says, "Who needs them." Conscious preoccupation is with control and advantage, domination, deception, getting the better of, and so on. Life is a zero-sum game; what you win, I lose. The fourth stage is the conformist one; more people have recognized and described this stage than any other. At this stage the rules are partially internalized. They are obeyed just because they are the rules. Chief sanction for transgression is shame, contrasting with the opportunistic stage preceding, which is often described by others (but


not by those in it) as shameless. Genuine interpersonal reciprocity is possible now; reciprocity is, after all, the Golden Rule. In many cases, however, the mutual trust is extended only to a narrowly conceived ingroup. There may be strong prejudice against various outgroups conceived in stereotyped terms. Interpersonal relations are seen primarily in terms of actions rather than of feelings and motives. Conscious preoccupation is with material things, with reputation and status, with appearance, and with adjustment. References to inner feelings are typically stereotyped, banal, and often moralistic. The transition from the conformist to the next level is often if not always marked by an access of introspection and self-consciousness. The fifth stage we call the conscientious stage. Morality has been internalized. Inner moral imperatives take precedence over group-sanctioned rules. The sanction for transgression is guilt. Interpersonal relations are seen in terms of feelings and traits rather than actions; they become more vivid, intensive, and meaningful than in earlier periods. Conscious preoccupation is with obligations, ideals, traits, and achievement as measured by inner standards rather than by recognition alone. Conduct is seen not simply as a series of actions, but as a set of enduring propensities; spontaneous interest in the origins of their conduct is often expressed by unsophisticated subjects at this stage. Capacity for self-criticism characterizes this stage, its absence the conformist stage. Self-criticism may, indeed, mediate the transition, though that topic is beyond the scope of the present effort at definition. Conformists as a group tend to see themselves in socially acceptable terms, though they may also report accurately specific symptoms; conscientious persons, or at least some of them, tend to view themselves hypercritically. The next stage we call the autonomous one. (Unfortunately this term has been used by Erikson, 1950, for the surge towards independence at the earlier, opportunistic stage. Dependence-independence is in fact a dialectical aspect of development, as Harvey et al., 1961, have shown.) Impulse control is no longer a problem at this late stage of maturity. The characteristic moral issue is coping with inner conflict, conflicting duties, conflicting needs, conflict between needs and duties, and so on. Such conflicts, although quite evidently present at earlier periods, including the conscientious one, are not squarely and consciously


AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGIST scale of ego maturity is always the best parent or teacher or therapist. For each stage one can specify the characteristic mode of impulse control and character development, of interpersonal relations, and of conscious preoccupation, including self-concept. The assertion that these are all aspects of ego development would seem at first to be clearly testable. One need merely devise separate measures of impulse control and character development, of interpersonal relations, and of conscious content, then correlate. The more deeply one becomes involved in this area, the more it appears that impulse control, character development, interpersonal relations, and conscious preoccupations are indeed aspects of a single thing, so intimately intertwined that one can hardly define much less measure them separately. Thus we are driven to the paradox that the assertion that they are all aspects of ego development is too true to be proved. But this is the content of the proposed construct. THE STRUCTURAL MODEL Consider now the structural aspects of the construct. There appear to be just two commonly held models, which may be called the embryonic and hierarchical models (but cf. Loevinger, in press). The embryonic model has been propounded by Erikson (1950, 1959); the hierarchic model is foreshadowed in the writings of H. S. Sullivan (1953), and clearly implied by Clyde Sullivan, Grant, and Grant (1957) and by Isaacs (1956). The clearest exposition of the formal properties of the hierarchic model is by Piaget and Inhelder (Tanner & Tnhelder, 1956, 1960). They arrived at it in connection with their work on cognitive development but have carefully abstracted the general features that characterize the model apart from the content of the intellectual growth sequence. Erikson's (1950, 1959) model of ego development is well known. He portrays the successive crises of normal developmenttrust versus mistrust, autonomy versus shame and doubt, etc.in the principal diagonal of a matrix. Clearly implied by the representation in terms of rows and columns, though not explicitly specified, are antecedents in each period of problems of later periods and also consequences of the problems of earlier periods, but how the outcome of the problem of one period affects the focal problem of the next is not clear. This model of ego development is patterned

coped with earlier. Along with coping with one's own conflicts comes greater toleration for those choosing other solutions than one's own, in contrast with the moral condemnation frequent in conscientious and conformist stages. Interpersonal relations remain intense, they involve a recognition of inevitable mutual interdependence, and, a crucial addition, they involve the recognition of other people's need for autonomy. Thus a typical conscientious mother feels obliged to prevent her children from making mistakes, whereas a typical autonomous mother recognizes their need to learn from their own mistakes. Characteristic conscious preoccupations are role differentiation, individuality, and self-fulfillment. At the highest stage, which we call integrated, the person proceeds beyond coping with conflict to reconciliation of conflicting demands, and, where necessary, renunciation of the unattainable, beyond toleration to the cherishing of individual differences, beyond role differentiation to the achievement of a sense of integrated identity. In normal groups such persons rarely appear, so new insights are hard to confirm. Maslow (1954, 1962) has sought out and studied a number of such persons, and on this empirical though not rigidly controlled basis has described the stage more extensively. Probably it is a mistake to idealize any stage. Every stage has its weaknesses, its problems, and its paradoxes, which provide both a potential for maladjustment and a potential for growth. One problem of the autonomous stage is how to reconcile the need for autonomy with dependence needs, on the one hand, and with exercise of authority on the other. Another paradox is the paradox of responsibility. Piaget (1932) notes that young children (hence, children at low ego levels) consider more blameworthy breaking IS cups by accident than breaking 1 cup while stealing jam. Older children (hence, on the average of higher ego level) assign blame in accord with motives rather than consequences; so breaking 1 cup while stealing is the worse offense. But at the highest ego levels, which Piaget did not study, one acknowledges responsibility not only for one's motives but also for the consequences of one's actions. Indeed, one is not completely responsible for one's motives nor completely absolved of responsibility for the consequences of actions taken from good motives. To see such unresolved problems is important, lest one run to the conclusion that the person highest on the

EGO DEVELOPMENT after Erikson's similar model for psychosexual development. In the latter case rows represent zones and columns represent modes. The order of the zones is the order of their successive primacy, and the modes are ordered so that the one most characteristic of each zone falls at or near the principal diagonal, so far as possible. In regard to the influence of one stage on the next, Erikson has stated that one may cling to the mode of one period on preceding to the next zone or may cling to the old zone and express in it the new mode; but what is the analogue of this in ego development? The diagram of psychosexuality is modeled, in turn, after what is known of fetal development, hence the title embryonic (though Erikson calls it epigenetic). In fetal development different organs are predominant at successive periods, and the greatest distortion or harm to an organ is done when growth disturbance, whatever its origin, occurs in its period of ascendancy, not sooner and not later. There is not one critical period for all organs but a different critical period for each. This fact is what Erikson portrays in his model. But while the embryonic model has some application to psychosexual development, where different organs are indeed involved at different periods, it is of questionable application to ego development. The ego is, or is like, a single organ. While Erikson assimilates ego to his model of psychosexual development, Piaget and Inhelder assimilate ego to cognitive development. The latter is the more curious fact, since Piaget's (1932) early work on moral judgment has been grist for the mill of subsequent writers on ego development. In various books and articles Piaget and Inhelder have written of personal, social, and affective development influencing and being influenced by cognitive development; that there are separable and independently variable sequences is not stated (Flavell, 1963). Although not clearly recognizing ego development as an example, Piaget and Inhelder (Tanner & Inhelder, 1956, I960) have abstracted the properties of the hierarchic model somewhat as follows: There is an invariable order to the stages of development; no stage can be skipped; each stage is more complex than the preceding one; each stage is based on the preceding one and prepares for the succeeding one. One can speak of stages of development, they assert, to the extent that these conditions are met. There is an inner logic that determines the


sequence. In determining a person's current behavior, Piaget says, this inner logic of development is as important as his history or his heredity or his current environment. The inner logic of ego development becomes a compelling conviction to those working in the area. Because there is an inner logicone not yet fully verbalizedexperienced, intuitive clinicians usually grasp the schema quickly. The logic of hierarchic evolution, of the necessary sequence of stages, has been well enough verbalized for separate aspects, i.e., interpersonal maturity (Sullivan et al., 1957), or, what is essentially the same thing, relatability (Isaacs, 1956); conceptual systems (Harvey et al., 1961); and moral judgment (Piaget, 1932; Kohlberg, 1964). Most such expositions have also recognized the wide diversity of manifestations of each stage, e.g., a particular stage of interpersonal development will be manifest also in a coordinated level of impulse control and character and of conceptual system. What has not been captured fully in any exposition is that these diverse manifestations at once constitute a single organic unity and develop through organically related steps. Moreover, although both Isaacs (1956) and Sullivan, Grant, and Grant (1957) have given convincing verbal renditions of the hierarchic evolution of capacity for interpersonal relations, their renditions are by no means identical. Neither captures everything reflected in the other. Conscious preoccupations are not only clues to moral development and interpersonal relatability; all are part of a single thing. That pervasive thing cannot reasonably be called less than ego development; what the organizing principle is remains to be clarified, But is there any guarantee that mind can render its own intimate nature as coherently and intelligibly as it can other aspects of the universe? The hierarchic model, as opposed to the embryonic one, states that there is one characteristic level for each person. Therefore, any evidence that his characteristic level is at one point is evidence against his most characteristic level being elsewhere. To the extent that a person can be called opportunistic, he is not conscientious. Note that psychosexual matters are different. Evidence that one has a strong oral fixation is not evidence that one does not have a strong anal fixation. Obviously one senses a difference here that concerns the structural model, not the content of the stages. Every model is a simplification; the simplification of the


AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGIST MILESTONES AMD POLAR ASPECTS Ego development has two quite different types of manifestations, milestone sequences and polar aspects. The distinction is a crucial one for measurement (Loevinger, 1965). The milestone sequences are the ones used in Table 1 for the brief characterizations of levels. These are observable behaviors that tend to rise and then fall off in prominence as one ascends the scale of ego maturity. For example, conformity to generally accepted social standards becomes increasingly characteristic of behavior up to a point, but beyond that point with increasing maturity becomes progressively less compelling, though not necessarily turning into nonconformity. Tendency to stereotypy, on the other hand, is a polar aspect; it constantly decreases with increasing ego level. Tendency to stereotypy is a more abstract and inferential trait, harder to judge than conformity to specific standards. Milestone sequences are peculiarly valuable in the rating of behavior, of case histories, or of test protocols for ego level. Clinical research continues to depend on rating scales for obvious reasons, despite their equally obvious deficiencies. Ratings of the amount of a trait, which must be used when one is rating a polar variable, are difficult to apply, are unreliable, require anchoring in some reference group, and at best are made effective instruments only for small groups of specially trained raters. By contrast, rating scales with qualitatively different descriptions of successive points on the scale have long been known to be specially good. Milestone sequences provide exactly such a scale. Differential psychology has lived under the shadow of E. L. Thorndike's (1914) dictum, that "if a thing exists, it exists in some amount; and . . . it can be measured [p. 141]." The original context was a bit different from the one in which it currently serves, for Thorndike did not accredit intervening variables, i.e., traits (Hullfish, 1926). (Remember that he called his ability test CAVD instead of intelligence.) Rather, it is the products of behavior that are to be measured. Regardless of the ultrabehavioristic disavowal of traits that underlay Thorndike's dictum it has been interpreted to mean that every variable can justifiably be treated as a polar variable. Thus, in regard to variables such as conformity or opportunism, each person can be rated according to how much of such a variable he has or exhibits. My position is dif-

hierarchic model is necessary for there to be effective measurement of ego level. Having said this, one must immediately admit that most samples of behavior, e.g., test protocols, contain evidence of functioning on diverse levels. Piaget has a name for such diversity in the cognitive realm, horizontal decalage (Flavell, 1963). Heinz Werner (1957) has observed that behavior is both unilinear and multilinear, i.e., it follows both the hierarchic and the embryonic models. This affords another way of describing the diversity of ego level within the behavior of a single person in a brief period. Nonetheless, the first step in bringing the concept within scientific compass is measurement. A probabilistic modification of the hierarchic model both accommodates the complexities and assimilates them to the requirements of measurement. Isaacs (1956) advocates an alternative solution to the problem of measurement. He characterizes every individual in terms of the highest level shown anywhere in his protocol. When this rule is followed, probabilistic cues cannot be used. Only those items or clues can be rated that indicate with certainty achievement of the given level. This rule for measurement does full justice to the hierarchic model, but it exaggerates the univocality of the relation between particular behavioral acts and behavioral propensities (Hammond, 1955). Other attempts to measure ego level have involved rating or somehow scoring the degree of presence of each stage. This schema contradicts the hierarchic model. Its unsatisfactory nature can also be expressed in another way, as is done in the following section. While considering the probabilistic nature of the manifestations of ego level, we can note some technical problems in drawing up Table 1. It aims to incorporate only the defining aspects of each stage, those that are always present. But no behavior sample dependably exhibits which of these characteristics are present and predominant in the individual. There are other, often more accessible, manifestations that indicate the several levels with fair or high probability (age-specific signs are included here) and that are usable in individual diagnosis. The distinction between probabilistic manifestations of defining aspects and manifestations of probabilistic aspects is surely beyond the scope of clinical intuition. Indeed, it challenges the best efforts of psychometrically trained psychologists.

EGO DKVELOPMENT ferent. Opportunism and conformity are not properly treated as polar variables; they are rather milestones. Rarely will a useful purpose be served by classing at the nonopportunistic extreme both those persons whose impulse control is so slight that they cannot act expediently and those who consider opportunism morally wrong, though they may be equally low in opportunism treated as a polar variable. A useful purpose will rarely be served by classing together in regard to conformity those who have not yet grown into it, those who are not willing to conform, and those who have outgrown the stage, who are able to conform but do not need conformity to insure impulse control. One might contrive a few applications where opportunism or conformity appears as a polar variable, but in scientific contributions they should appear as milestones. The measurement problem created by the confusion between milestones and polar traits is an important point of difference between personality measurement and measurement of ability. Most manifestations of ability are polar aspects, i.e., for most problems the proportion of correct answers is an increasing function of age. Occasionally problems turn up where the right answer can be obtained by a kind of wrong reasoning that tends to disappear with age. In such cases the proportion of right answers may be a nonmonotone function of age. Test technology invariably strives to eliminate such items from tests of ability. Thus the technology need only contend with a single item type, i.e., polar items, monotone functions of age. Psychologically, polar traits develop nondialectically, as indeed abilities tend to do. Traits developing dialectically, growing so to say by opposites, are manifest in milestones. Our faith in the nondialectical development of abilities is expressed in the Thurstonian requirement of a positive manifold as a criterion for rotation of axes. What Piaget calls vertical decalage (Flavell, 1963), however, may refer to a dialectical aspect of cognitive development; but Piaget has little concern for measurement. There is no Supreme Court to decide for us what variables are properly treated as polar ones and what are simply milestones along the way of some more comprehensive trait. I am defending ego development as a construct of central importance for psychology, one that summarizes and helps to account for many diverse phenomena. With re-


spect to ego development seen as a central explanatory construcl, opportunism, conformity, and many of the variables that currently engage the attention of large numbers of psychologists are milestones being improperly treated as polar (i.e., quantitative) variables. Among the more trivial of the milestones are various aspects of stereotypy known as response bias, such as acquiescence, tendency to choose extreme responses, and tendency to describe oneself in socially desirable terms. Probably few believe that these are major explanatory variables for a theoretical psychology. Those who devote their lives to the study of such variables often give little consideration to whether they are major quantitative variables, worthy of the hundreds of research studies they have led to. They have become major areas of study because it is easy to obtain quantitative measures, with no questions asked whether there is truly an important underlying quantitative variable or human trait. But surely it would be most remarkable if the artifacts of naively constructed personality tests would themselves turn out to be the major dimensions in terms of which to conceive human variability. If the various types of response bias are rather manifestations of particular stages (i.e., milestones) of ego development, rather poorly measured, then further pursuit of them as quantitative variables will not lead to substantive additions to psychology. Since this is an area of high controversy, let us solidify the argument. Tendency to describe oneself as socially acceptable is an accessible, scorable variable. It reflects psychologically meaningful traits having implications outside the testing situation. But it reflects those nontest traits equivocally, in part because the high point is midway in a developmental sequence, i.e., it is a milestone. The nonconformity of low ego levels is confounded with the self-criticism of high stages. On tests designed to measure variables such as psychopath ology, the weaknesses and impulsivity of low ego levels are confounded with the toleration of inner life found at high levels. Even in a study such as Block's (1965), in which social desirability and acquiescence as methodological artifacts have been carefully excluded, the problem remains. In his MMPI scoring key for ego resilience, both the content of the items and description of high- and low-scoring subjects reveal a confounding with conventionality, conformity, and intolerance of inner life. By pres-


AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGIST 2. Adult height can be predicted using childhood height, age, and an independent measure (skeletal age) of percentage of adult height achieved. Both the 1Q and other indices of intelligence in effect use childhood status and age to predict final adult status. Ego development can be measured on an ordinal scale, but no method of predicting final adult status has been established. Psychosexual development as usually thought of does not constitute an ordinal scale. 3. Ego development is an abstraction, a juncture of a developmental sequence and a characterology. The defining manifestations of any stage must, therefore, be just those that are not age specific. Although in general predictions can be improved by using subpopulations homogeneous with respect to demographic variables such as age, this stratagem is inadmissable in defining constructs. Similarly, in constructing scoring manuals contingent rules are not allowed. 4. There is an inner logic (to borrow Piaget's term) of ego development, an invariable sequence. Each stage builds on, incorporates, and transmutes the previous one. This inner logic is not created by our definitions or by our reason; it constitutes the claim of this construct to preempt the term ego development, in contrast with other usages of the term in child psychology and psychoanalysis. No one, however, has succeeded in capturing fully this inner logic as yet. 5. The attempt to measure ego development must be based on a hierarchic model. Every person, protocol, or behavior sample is given just one rating, whatever diversity contained. The alternative embryonic model seems to imply as many ratings for every person or protocol as there are stages of development; evidence for fixation at one stage is not evidence against fixation at another. The embryonic model may have merit for psychosexual development but seems less good than the hierarchic model for ego development. 6. The manifestations of ego development can be classed as milestone sequences and polar aspects. The milestones tend to be observable at a minimal inferential level, while polar aspects are not themselves observable but must be inferred from patterns of observable behavior. Thus an approach to personality that is at once behavioristic and quantitative cannot discover or reconstruct the variable of ego level. In particular, factor analysis could not yield this construct.

cut. lights, adjustment and ego level are here confounded to a degree making this scoring key an instrument of little value. How can we discover what are the major variables and what are their subsidiary manifestations? What gives us the order of importance? Many psychologists have become accustomed to thinking that there are tools available to help with these decisions. In particular, factor analysis is the instrument advocated by many as the sure way to find our major variables. It is important to note that precisely the distinction at issue, that between polar variables and milestone sequences, is one to which factor analysis is blind. If we begin by taking as our quantitative variables separate aspects of several stages of the ego, the milestones, no kind of computational manipulation by however high speed a machine will sort them out to reconstruct the concept of ego level presented here. A considerable number of people have arrived at some version of this concept, but no machines. (Or rather, people without computers have discovered this concept, but not those using computers.) If we are operating in such studies with a series of quantitative measures of ego milestones, one would expect a melange of low and curvilinear relations precisely what is usually observed. With respect to ego level, it seems to be the case that those manifestations observable at a minimal inferential level are just the milestones, while the polar aspects, properly treated as quantitative, are only inferable indirectly from patterns of observed behavior. Thus the ultrabehaviorist is doomed to deal in trivialities in the personality field, for he approaches the area with a predilection at once for observing behavior at a minimal inferential level and for quantitative variables. But this is a contradiction; what can be observed most directly are the milestones rather than the quantitative aspects. This is the behaviorist's dilemma, and a possible explanation for much of the frustration and confusion that have beset personality measurement. METHODOLOGICAL SUMMARY In summary, let us recapitulate those aspects of the discussion relating to methodology. ]. Ego development is conceptually distinct from intellectual development, from psychoscxual development, and from adjustment, whatever may be the relations among these variables.

EGO DEVELOPMENT 7. Either milestones or polar aspects are adaptable for measurement, but one must know which is which. Polar variables are in their nature quantitative or at least ordered continua. A sequence of milestones, such as those in Table 1 for ego development, constitutes an ordering that can itself serve as a rating scale for subjects, protocols, etc. The equivocality that arises when one stage in a milestone sequence is treated like a polar variable can be observed in the long controversy over the interpretation of the first factor in the MMPI. The equivocality is built into the variable; no experimental ingenuity will unconfound the variance. 8. Age has served as an objective anchorage point twice in this discussion. The traits described as constituting positive mental health are all age related. That is one crucial reason for assigning them to the realm of ego development rather than adjustment, for adjustment is not, in the first instance, a systematic function of age. A second use of age for anchoring is that polar traits are monotone functions of age, while milestones are in general nonmonotone functions of age. CONCLUSIONS This essay has attempted to stake out a territory against the assault of those who say that research in clinical psychology can never be really scientific, and against those who say that important insights are revealed only to clinicians. That man has an ego and that his ego develops are observations as palpable, no more tenuous, no more hypothetical than that his chromosomes contain DNA. Knowing how the words "ego" and "development" are used in psychology and in common speech will suffice to focus initially on the area to be studied, but it will not suffice to answer questions as to details. The several psychologists and psychiatrists who have schemes of ego development similar to that of Table 1, and indeed from whom the entries of Table 1 have been borrowed, differ from each other in details. To resolve questions raised by such differences requires careful definition of terms, large numbers of cases, and explicit, replicable observations. These conditions are the province of the research worker. This program for resolving differences of detail by repeatedly collecting evidence thus stands in lieu of a formal definition of ego development. The construct must in that way become continually more faithful to the concomitances of life. No one has seriously questioned that


the sorts of things described in Table 1 arc part of ego level; the program o[ refining the construct by referral to evidence is not one among many possible programs but the only admissable one for scientific psychology. Therefore the meaning of ego development proposed here is not one among many but the only one scientifically admissable. Some alternative usages of the term have been considered and rejected. Use of the term to cover only the earliest period obscures the distinctiveness of ego development, for just at that period ego development is virtually indistinguishable from intellectual and psychosexual development. Use of the term to cover development of all ego functions is rejected on the grounds that many ego functions but not all develop together as an organic unity; only those ego functions that are part of that organic unity are properly included in the definition. The course of ego development is marked by fear of retaliation, fear of punishment, shame, and guilt, all potent sources of conflict. At its highest estate ego embraces the conflict itself; thus the conflictfree ego sphere is not the sphere of ego development. Finally, the use of the term to cover mastery of age-specific problems is ruled out since it makes the unwarranted assumption that everyone the same age is at the same ego level. Description of essentially the same developmental events using a less inclusive term, such as moral character, interpersonal integration, intraception, or conceptual system, is ruled out because all are involved at once, and nothing less than the ego encompasses all of them. Finally one must ask whether a conscientious scientist finds it optional whether he devotes his scientific career to study of variables such as ego development or to study of variables such as response bias. Arbitrary and artificial variables are of occasional methodological interest, but when they become a major focus for many researchers over a long period, one must raise a question of values as a scientist. Ego development has been presented not as one interesting personality trait among many, but as the master trait. It is second only to intelligence in accounting for human variability. We owe it to our discipline to be faithful to reality, not only in details but also in where we invest our lives as scientists. When Brunswik said, let the order of ideas be the same as the order of things, he did not mean anything so utilitarian or so banal as that the importance of an area in our


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