Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology



First Advisor

Albert J. Lott


Late adolescent development was examined through the attitudes, values, beliefs, and academic performance of 121 Freshman students, 57 male and 64 female, at the University of Rhode Island. Marcia's (1966) operationalization of Erik Erikson's psycho-social theory of late adolescence and William Perry's (1970) model of intellectual formation in the college years were instrumentally applied through two objective tests that classify students into the stages of each theory. Findings confirm the study's hypothesis of a significant relationship between academic achievement and identity status. There were significant main effects of identity status, as reported in GPA scores, before and after intelligence (SAT scores) was controlled. Significance among groups conformed to theory, in that higher identity status groups demonstrated higher GPA scores than lower status groups. Other findings confirmed hypotheses of 1) higher student frequencies in low cognitive stages than in high cognitive stages and 2) fewer low identity than high identity students classified in the high cognitive stages. Although not predicted, significant gender differences were found for females in identity achievement. Implicit in its findings, the study suggests that adolescent development is the product of ongoing interactions between one's cognitive skills and psychosocial experience during childhood. The level and quality of these "socio-cognitive" skills at late adolescence results in more or less advanced adult identities. Adult identity or global development is further reflected in achievement which, here, is measured by students' academic performance.



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