Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Young adults-Psychology, Ego (Psychology), Emotional maturity, Anxiety, Sullivan, Harry Stack, 1892-1949, Quantitative research, Quiet ego, State trait anxiety, Emerging adulthood, Sullivanian theory, Detached awareness, Growth


Emerging adulthood is a time period wrought with many life changes (Arnett, 2000); therefore, periods of anxiety that are distressing and may potentially disrupt or challenge ego growth can be expected. This study addressed the question: What is the relationship between anxiety and ego maturity in emerging adulthood? Wayment, Bauer, and Sylaska (2014) asserted that the ego in higher levels of development is less defended. This means that the defensive personality organization in the "quiet ego" is integrated in higher-level defensive adaptation, but it remains unclear how Sullivan's (1953) concepts of anxiety might interact with varying levels of ego development. The target sample for this study included men and women between the ages of 18 and 28 years old. Participants completed two online survey instruments including the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (Spielberger, Gorsuch, Lushene, Vagg and Jacobs, 1983) to assess anxiety, and the 14-item Quiet Ego Scale (Wayment et al., 2014) to measure ego development. The results supported this study's hypothesis that ego quietness is negatively correlated with trait anxiety, meaning that higher ego quietness scores are associated with lower anxiety scores. This study supports the relationship originally posited by Sullivan (1953), in which greater ego strength allows an individual to experience anxiety as less threatening and, therefore, the individual can more effectively confront anxiety.




iv, 37 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2015. Includes bibliographical references (pages 23-26)