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Title: Ego impairment and academic deficiency : a clinical study of male adolescent underachievers
Author: Levinson, Samuel
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1968
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This study was designed to test the hypothesis that academic deficiency (underachieving) in some adolescent males who have adequate intellectual resources is a function of an impairment of their ego structures, specifically, identity diffusion, as posited by Erik H. Erikson. The study was based on a clinical model, in that a total of 20 detailed case studies composed of ten underachievers and ten controls were drawn from a typical high school population. The case studies included verbatim individual psychological test protocols, group test data, and clinical interviews with the subject and both of his parents. A rating scale was derived from Erikson's crisis stage model of ego development with which to operationally define identity diffusion and order the clinical information. It is known that behavioral manifestations of dynamic psychological relationships can be quite different across subjects. It was felt that a global, clinical approach was the best way to deal with this factor. This global approach, combined with the Erikson-based rating scale, proved a viable technique. Three experienced psychologists were asked to judge each of the case studies on this rating scale. These scaled judgments were consolidated and compared initially with the Mann-Whitney U Test and, later, with an Analysis of Variance. On the basis of both of these procedures, it was significantly demonstrated (>.001 via both the Mann-Whitney and the AOV) that academic deficiency is related to ego impairment. Several secondary hypotheses were explored which did not prove significant. These tested the relationship of parental education, birth order, and family mobility. Separation from father, particularly before the age of four, and the experience of parent surrogates were factors found more frequently among the underachievers than the controls. This study also demonstrated that ego impairment and academic deficiency are a function of the identity-distorting influences of neurotic family interaction.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Educational Psychology