Personality Development

This section describes the instruments used in the measurement of personality development.  

Washington University Sentence Completion Test of Ego Development (WUSCT)

The WUSCT contains 36 sentence stems; respondents are simply instructed to complete each stem. Separate 36 item forms have been developed for men and women. When necessary, the first set of 18 items on a form and the second set of 18 items on a form can be used as abbreviated versions of the measure, although reducing the item length will reduce the reliability of the form (see Loevinger, 1985).

Several versions of the instrument have been published since 1970. The most recent version of the test, Form 81, is the form that is currently recommended for use with adults because it served as the basis for the revised scoring manual that was published in 1996 (Hy & Loevinger, 1996; Loevinger, 1985; 1998). Form 81 is available from Loevinger (1985, 1998), and from Hy and Loevinger (1996).

Empirically based scoring manuals have been developed for each form (Hy & Loevinger, 1996). Technical and psychometric issues underlying the construction of the manuals are discussed in several publications (Loevinger, 1993, 1998). A complete set of guidelines for administering and scoring the protocols is presented in the previously cited references.


Sentence Completion Test for Children and Youths (SCT-Y)

The SCT-Y has been developed for use with older children and adolescents (approx. age 8 to 18 years). The test form contains 32 sentence stems; respondents are instructed to complete each stem. Separate forms have been developed for males and females; copies of these forms are provided by Westenberg, Treffers, & Drewes (1998).

Empirically based scoring manuals have been developed for each form, but these are in Dutch. An English version of the scoring manual is under construction (for details, please contact the web manager).

The new scoring manual introduced important changes into our understanding of the characteristic signs of ego development in youth. These changes were most notable at the Impulsive, Self-protective, and Conformist stages, where children and adolescents display more positive signs of development, and less malignancy, than revealed in adults at those stages (see Westenberg, Jonckheer, Treffers, & Drewes, 1998).


Psychometric Properties of the WUSCT and SCT-Y

Psychometric studies of the WUSCT have yielded high levels of interrater reliability, high levels of internal consistency, and high test-retest reliability. Perfect interrater agreement per item is typically about 85% and interrater agreement within one stage is often close to 95%. Cronbach alpha values are often reported to be .90 or higher, and test-retest correlations are often about .80. Preliminary evidence also suggests that test-retest reliability, internal consistency, and interrater agreement is high when protocols are administered to clinical populations. The chapter by Westenberg, Hauser, and Cohn (2004) provides further details and literature references.


Construct Validity of the WUSCT and SCT-Y

Evidence for the construct validity of the WUSCT is provided by several lines of research, which have been reviewed by Loevinger (1979, 1998), Hauser (1976; 1993), and Manners and Durkin (2001). The SCT-Y was only recently developed and cross-validated and thus lacks a similarly large research base. Evidence for the construct validity of the SCT-Y is accumulating (see Westenberg, Hauser, & Cohn, 2004).