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October 1972

Adolescent Self-Image Development: I. Longitudinal Studies of Black and White Boys

Author Affiliations

Bethesda, Md
From the Personality Development Section, Adult Psychiatry Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Md. Dr. Hauser is now with the Laboratory in Social Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1972;27(4):537-541. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1972.01750280097016

Using concepts derived from information theory, a method for analyzing basic structural dimensions of self-images is described. The technique is applied to longitudinal self-image data collected from black and white adolescent boys over a four-year period.

On the basis of previous considerations of identity formation differences between these black and white adolescents, blacks were predicted to have more polarized, structurally simpler self-images. Results only partially confirm this hypothesis. Idealized and peer-related self-images are more polarized for the blacks. But both groups of adolescents show the same patterns for time-based self-images. Much of the comment is devoted to analyzing the significance of these different self-image patterns and their relation to racial factors and identity formation. An alternative framework for viewing polarization phenomena is presented and applied to these results.