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Transcript of CRAMER, 1997
IDENTITY, PERSONALITY AND DEFENCE MECHANISMS
Whether a young person with committed
goals is less likely to use defence mechanisms than a young
person with no strong goals.
The more anxious & ‘in crisis’ a person is, the more likely they are to sue defence mechanisms, so supporting Freudian theory.
91 23 yr old males & females were given a Thematic apperception test (TAT).
This is where pictures are shown & participants are asked to tell/interpret the ‘story’ of the picture.
They were also given a Q-sort, where they were asked to sort a list of characteristics according to how they applied to them.
These identity characteristics were to measure self-esteem & commitment to goals: there were 4 types: diffused (not yet reached crisis); foreclosed (adopted goals without crisis); moratorium (in crisis); and achieved (passed through crisis & adopted own goals).
A large sample was used
To ensure reliability inter-rater reliability was applied to the interpretation of the TAT stories by the coders of the stories & experienced coders were used.
APPLICATION TO REAL LIFE
Self-esteem, anxiety, defence mechanisms,
goal achievement are all important to psychological well-being.
Good construct validity because it was found that in the Q-sort achieved & foreclosed identity were strongly correlated with high commitment; diffused & moratorium states were not: as was expected to the case of the Q-sort was valid & had construct validity.
However, there are still some validity issues. Defence mechanisms are unconscious mechanisms & so difficult to measure scientifically & objectively; also the interpretation of the TAT test is open to interpretation. Furthermore, the Q-sort had only 4 categories (diffused, foreclosed, moratorium, achieved); participants may have had overlapping traits but were placed in to 1 of the 4 categories, so reducing the validity.
Diffused & moratorium states showed anxiety & used denial defence mechanisms; diffused state also used projection.
The achieved state showed the least use of defence mechanisms & were lowest in anxiety, presumably no unconscious conflicts occurring. Foreclosed showed positive attitudes.
Self-esteem was low for both diffused & moratorium states, & high for both achieved & foreclosed states.
There were no gender differences.
Defence mechanisms are a feature of human experience, especially during a period of crisis & their use is linked to high anxiety & low self-esteem.
High self-esteem, goal achievement & commitment to goals corresponds to low use of defence mechanisms.