The relationship of ego identity, instrumentality, and expressiveness to life stress in young adult women

Ann Margaret Troy, Fordham University


In the development of life events research, several questions have been raised regarding the accurate assessment of event impact, the role of response bias, and the relevance of personality and contextual dimensions to the experience of stress. The potential for confounding outcomes with antecedent predisposing influences on the appraisal of life change and impact has been of particular concern. The purposes of this study were to examine the relationships among age, personality, and contextual life structure variables, and explore their contribution to stress appraisal in young adult women. The proportion of life change events impact appraised as negative was the dependent variable in the prediction of stress. The independent variables identified as potential stress appraisal mediators were: age, ego identity, instrumentality, psychosocial maturity, locus of control, and trait anxiety. One hundred fifty-three young adult women between the ages of 21 and 35 were recruited and surveyed by mail. The research instruments were: the Personal Data Form, used to gather information about age, health, and life structure variables; the Inventory of Psychosocial Development; the Rasmussen Ego Identity Scale; the Life Experiences Survey, a measure of life change events and their impact; the Personal Attributes Questionnaire, a measure of instrumentality and expressiveness; the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability scale; the Internal-External Locus of Control scale, and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Women with higher levels of ego identity reported a greater degree of instrumentality; both variables were associated with a more internal locus of control. Ego identity, instrumentality, and expressiveness were found to be associated with greater psychosocial maturity and less anxiety. The results suggested that age/developmental life stage and level of trait anxiety were significantly predictive of negative life change impact. Supplementary analyses indicated a potential association between contextual life structure variables and the relationship between age and stress. It was concluded that trait anxiety functioned as a mediator for the effects of ego identity, psychosocial maturity, and instrumentality in the stress appraisal process.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Personality|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Troy, Ann Margaret, "The relationship of ego identity, instrumentality, and expressiveness to life stress in young adult women" (1995). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9613861.