Author

Cheryl Cheek

Date of Award:

1999

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Advisor/Chair:

Randall M. Jones

Abstract

Erikson's theory of identity development and Marcia's model of identity statuses serve as a framework for this examination of the relationship between women's identity status and employment. The hypotheses of the study were that women with an achieved identity status would be more likely to obtain and retain employment and that interventions would increase their scores on identity-related subscales.

Phase I of this study examined the relationship between identity development and employment among 203 women receiving public assistance. Subjects provided employment and public assistance histories and were categorized into three preferred cognitive styles according to responses to the Berzonsky Cognitive Style Inventory: Information Orientation (characterized by active searching and evaluation of relevant information prior to decision making/problem solving); Nonnative Orientation (characterized by a passive approach to decision making/problem solving which reties upon the opinions of significant others), and Diffuse Orientation (decision making/problem solving characterized by procrastination and avoidance). Information-and Nonnative-oriented respondents reported just over one year of public assistance ( 15 .05 and 14.21 months, respectively), while the Diffuse-oriented respondents had utilized public assistance in excess of three years (37.20 months). Diffuse-oriented respondents also reported changing jobs more frequently during the previous 12 months than Information- and Normative-oriented respondents, although no differences were found among the three groups in months employed.

Phase 2 of this study used a quasi-experimental design to examine the effectiveness of interventions to affect employment and scores on the subscales of the Berzonsky Cognitive Style Inventory, as measured by the BCSI subscale scores. Results indicated that there were mixed differences in the pretest and 12-week followup scores of the intervention group on the subscales. However, there were more marked statistically significant differences in the number of hours worked per week and the percentage of the intervention group employed when comparing the pretest and the 12- week post intervention data. The results indicate that while the interventions were less effective in changing identity status than had been hypothesized, they were effective in assisting participants to obtain employment.

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