Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Spring 5-8-2012

Major Department or Program



Melissa Clearfield


The present study assessed the effects of socioeconomic status (SES) on adolescent identity development and the role of relational support from parents, teachers, and mentors. We tested 43 high school students using Berzonsky’s Identity Style Inventory (ISI3) to assess Diffuse-Avoidant, Normative, and Informational identity styles and the Quality of Relationship Inventory (QRI) to assess perceived relational support from parents, teachers, and mentors (Pierce, 1994). Low SES adolescents had significantly lower perceived support scores than mid-high SES adolescents. Low SES adolescents scored significantly higher in the Diffuse-Avoidant identity style. Teacher support correlated with the adaptability of the identity style for low SES participants; parent and mentor support did not correlate for any participants. High overall support correlated with high scores in the Informational identity style while low overall support correlated with high scores in the Diffuse-Avoidant identity style. Implications for the roles of poverty and relational support in identity development are discussed.

Page Count


Subject Headings

Socioeconomic status -- Family socioeconomic level, Analysis of variance (ANOVA), Identity (Philosophical concept) -- Adolescents, High School Students -- Behavior, High School Teachers, Influence (Psychology) -- Adolescent Development, Poverty -- Students, Social sciences, Whitman College -- Dissertation collection 2012 -- Psychology Department

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