A Study of the Self-Disclosure and Self-Presentation Variables

Lind, Dennis R. (Ph.D., 1970)

Thesis directed by Associate Professor Peter G. Ossorio

A problem was identified in the literature, viz., the questionable validity of the claimed self-disclosure (CSD) measurement approach. The literature also stimulated questions about the relationships between self-disclosure (SD) and other psychological variables.

A validity study was undertaken employing Jourard and Lasakow's SDQ-60 as a measure of CSD, using new instructions encompassing both verbal and nonverbal modes of SD. The university sample consisted of 18 single, male, lowerclassmen, and 9 married, male, upperclassmen, for a total sample of 27. A measure of actual self-disclosure (ASD) was developed, based upon ratings by the SDQ-60 targets of true, personal information obtained from the subjects through depth interviews. The ASD scores were compared to the CSD scores, and Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated for Total SD, and the targets separately.

The overall validity coefficient was low (.43), but differential results appeared when the data were analyzed separately for each target. The data indicated no validity for Father (.09) and Mother (-.14), but Best Male Friend (BMF) (.75), Best Female Friend (BFF) (.80), and Spouse (.80) were shown to have substantial validity.

SD was also investigated in relationship with selected psychological variables, viz., anxiety, self-esteem, self-concept discrepancies, and maladjustment. Total ASD correlated significantly and negatively with anxiety, negatively with the SC-SI (self-concept--social ideal) discrepancy (SI being a more positive evaluation than SC), and negatively with maladjustment. A t test analysis also resulted in a significant difference between ASD means for the upper and lower self-esteem groups, the upper group being higher in ASD.

Father (ASD) did not correlate significantly with the psychological variables. With a t test analysis, however, the differences between the ASD means for high and low anxiety and self-esteem groups were significant, high anxiety being associated with low ASD and high self-esteem being associated with high ASD.

Mother (ASD) was correlated significantly and negatively with anxiety, positively with self-esteem, negatively with the SC-PRO (self-concept--perceived responses of others) discrepancy (others perceived as evaluating the subject higher than he evaluates himself), negatively with the SC-SI discrepancy, and negatively with maladjustment.

BMF (ASD) was not significantly correlated with any of the psychological variables, but BFF (ASD) was significantly and negatively correlated with the SC-SI discrepancy and maladjustment. Spouse (ASD) was significantly and negatively correlated with anxiety and positively correlated with self-esteem.

CSD was not as highly related to the psychological variables as ASD, and this was seen to be due in part to the lack of adequate validity for certain SDQ-60 scores, and due in part to the ASD measure being a superior measure. Spouse and self-esteem were significantly and positively correlated, while BFF and the SC-SI discrepancy were significantly and negatively correlated. BMF and the SC-PRO discrepancy were significantly and positively correlated.

A new variable of and measurement procedure for self-presentation (SP) was introduced and explored as a possible substitute measure for ASD, which is an exceedingly laborious procedure. The results indicated the SP measure was not an acceptable substitute for ASD. In certain instances, SP correlated negatively and significantly with anxiety, maladjustment, and the SC-SI discrepancy.

The general conclusions were that the SDQ-60, with the new instructions, was substantially valid for BMF, BFF, and Spouse, at least for the purpose of forming high and low SD groups for future research studies. But due to the differential findings for targets pertaining to the relationships between SD and the psychological variables, it was recommended that data be analyzed separately for each target, rather than summing into a composite CSD score. [289 pp.]