EGO DEVELOPMENT AND SEXUAL MORAL REASONING IN FEMALES: SINGLE-SEX VS. COEDUCATIONAL COLLEGES

DEIRDRE A GARVAN, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

The major purpose of this study was to compare the level of ego development and stage of sexual moral reasoning of female students in single-sex colleges with that of their female counterparts in coeducational colleges. In the last few decades so many single-sex colleges have been turned into coeducational colleges that there is reason to be concerned about the survival of single-sex colleges.^ Subjects for this study comprised 221 single, female, undergraduate (freshmen and senior) subjects, 115 from single-sex dormitories in two single-sex Roman Catholic colleges and 106 from coeducational dormitories in two coeducational Roman Catholic colleges. The colleges fell along a continuum of most restrictive to least restrictive in terms of male visitation. The four colleges were compared with each other on relevant demographic variables.^ Ego development was measured by the Washington University Sentence Completion Test (Loevinger & Wessler, 1970); and reasoning about the morality of sexual relationships by the Sexual Dilemmas Test (Gilligan, Kohlberg, Lerner, & Belenky, 1970). The University Residence Environment Scale (URES) (Moos & Gerst, 1974), a measure of the social environment of university living groups, was also administered as was the Dormitory Student Questionnaire (DSQ) to collect demographic, attitudinal, and behavioral data.^ A 4 x 2 cross-sectional design was used with college and class (freshmen vs. seniors) as the independent variables and the four measures described above as the dependent variables. Coeducational college freshmen and senior females were significantly higher in ego development than their counterparts in single-sex colleges. The day to day interaction with males and the resulting environmental effects as measured by the URES--a less competitive, rule-oriented environment with more student influence--were felt to be factors that foster ego development coupled with some personal student characteristics as measured by the DSQ.^ Seniors were consistently higher than freshmen in sexual moral reasoning across the four colleges. Growth in sexual moral reasoning appeared to require an openness to and opportunities for sexual experimentation and reflection as well as other personal and environmental factors that seem to occur more in colleges which are less restrictive about male visitation.^

Subject Area

Education, Educational Psychology

Recommended Citation

DEIRDRE A GARVAN, "EGO DEVELOPMENT AND SEXUAL MORAL REASONING IN FEMALES: SINGLE-SEX VS. COEDUCATIONAL COLLEGES" (January 1, 1984). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI8417300.
http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI8417300

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