Intimate identity: female and male differences



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Texas Tech University


In an effort to expand Erikson's conceptualization of the identity construct to include an attachment component and allow for the development of a view of oneself as an intimate person, an identity component labelled intimate identity was proposed in this research project.

The dimension components of intimate identity are commitment, shared activities, decision-making, sexual involvement, emotional involvement, and openness. The Intimate Relationship Interview was used to measure intimate dentity in 30 women and 30 men who are college seniors involved in a serious relationship. The women's scores and the men's scores were compared on each of the dimension components using a one-way analysis of variance with age as a covariate.

The outcomes show women to score significantly higher on the expressive components of intimate identity. There was no significant difference between women and men on the instrumental components and sexual involvement. The results support the idea that there is an attachment component in identity and that women and men experience themselves and others differently. The intimate identity of women is composed of expressive and instrumental dimensions and sexual involvement. The intimate identity of men is composed of instrumental dimensions and sexual involvement. The outcomes reflect the theoretical perspective of object relations, explain the relationship problems documented in literature, and support the argument that women can satisfy men's intimacy needs, but that the reverse is not true.