Date of Award

Spring 1993

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Kathleen McCartney


The purpose of this study was to determine whether characteristics of family system and object relations are associated with identity formation in late adolescent women. Identity status, features of family system function and structure, and two dimensions of object relations were assessed in a sample of 204 18- to 21-year-old college women. It was hypothesized that different combinations of family system functioning and object relations dimensions would be found for each of the four identity statuses. Univariate analyses and discriminant function analyses revealed that distinct patterns characterized the family system and object relations of the Diffusion and Foreclosure statuses. The pattern for the Diffusion status combined family adaptability with relatively low family cohesion, and object relations were moderate in complexity and relatively low emotional investment. The pattern associated with the Foreclosure status combined low family adaptability with high family cohesion, and object relations were low in complexity and capacity for emotional Investment. A third pattern was characteristic of both Moratorium and Achievement statuses. These two statuses were associated with a combination of family adaptability and cohesion and moderate-to-high levels of the object relations variables of complexity and emotional investment. Family adaptability, closeness, and complexity of object relations were most important for predicting identity status.