Validating Optimal Theory Applied to Identity Development (OTAID): A South African Women Sample

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Title: Validating Optimal Theory Applied to Identity Development (OTAID): A South African Women Sample
Author: Sawyer, Kyla Marie
Advisors: Hebert A. Exum, Ph.D., Committee Chair
Craig Brookins, Ph.D., Committee Member
Stanley Baker, Ph.D., Committee Member
Rhonda Sutton, Ph.D., Committee Member
Abstract: Many counselors use identity development models and theories to understand a client's process of self-definition in the context of her or his group or the larger society. This process of self-definition affects a client's emotions, thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. Due to the oppressive system of apartheid and the restrictions on certain kinds of research, identity development for South African women has not been extensively explored. The purpose of this study was to examine whether the Optimal Theory Applied to Identity Development (OTAID) accurately reflects the identity attitudes in a sample of 148 Black, Coloured, and Indian South African women attending a university in the Western Cape. This study used a modified version of the Self Identity Inventory (SII), an instrument designed to operationalize the phases of the OTAID (Sevig, 2000). Three strategies were used to test construct validity of the SII (a) an exploratory factor analyses, (b) an inter-scale correlation of the SII subscales, and (c) a correlational analysis of the SII with the Belief System Analysis Scale (BSAS). A 2-factor exploratory factor analysis of the SII revealed items that loaded according to their suboptimal and optimal assignment based on the OTAID. However, a 6-factor exploratory analysis only supported three of the six phases: Immersion, Internalization, and Transformation. In addition another phase of identity emerged: Limited Awareness. Additionally, findings for the inter-scale correlations were partially in accordance with the OTAID as was the correlations between the SII subscales and the BSAS where only the Integration subscale was significantly correlated. The analysis of the Identity Expression Index (IEI) indicated that the most important identity constructs for women were religion/spirituality, family role, career/occupation/education, gender and race. Finally, focus group discussions with a smaller sample of these women also provided partial support for the OTAID and revealed two potential additional identity areas: assimilation and self-deprecation. Although the OTAID was found not to be entirely applicable to Black South African women, the findings from this study does provide more information about the identity development of Black South African women than previously available. Implications for counselors and recommendations for future research are discussed.
Date: 2004-09-28
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Counselor Education

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