First Advisor

Nona Glazer-Malbin

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Sociology






Self-perception, Social interaction, Separation (Law)



Physical Description

1 online resource (98 pages)


Symbolic interaction theory indicates that an individual's self-concept is related to the way in which the individual perceives others as responding to him/her. Although this theory is widely accepted in social psychology, it has been given little empirical attention. In this study a typological model was developed in an empirical examination of the relationship between self-concept and responses of others during marital crisis. Self-concept was defined as the organization of qualities (roles, social-psychological feelings) that an individual assigns to himself/herself. Kind of qualities were described, and social-psychological feelings about self were examined on a positive to negative continuum. Responses of others were defined as the kind and amount of support perceived by respondents as being given to them by others (relatives, friends, dates, husband, children) during marital separation. Kinds of support were described, and amount of support was examined on a positive to negative continuum. The typological model was developed from interviews with fifteen white, middle and upper middle class women between the ages of 25 and 35 who were separated but not legally divorced from their husbands. The interviews consisted of two parts: 1) an in-depth, open-ended interview between respondent and researcher aided by a guide; 2) a standardized questionnaire in which respondents rated their perceptions of self and responses of others on a positive to negative scale. Five types of self-concept/responses of others relationships were found and described. These types were labeled: 1) New Lifers; 2) Revisors; 3) Adaptors; 4) Endurers; 5) Mourners. In all types a positive relationship was found between self-concept and responses of others. This" positive relationship was most clearly indicated in the extreme types, i.e., the New Lifers were characterized by a high positive self-concept and high, positive responses from others, whereas the Mourners were characterized by a high negative self-concept and lack of or negative responses from others. In addition to the quality and quantity of support, five other factors were found to be related to self-concept during marital separation. These factors, incorporated into the model as properties of the types, were: 1) who initiated the separation; 2) the presence or absence of an understanding of what led to the marital dissolution; 3) how the separation was defined by the respondent; 4) self-concept and situation prior to separation; 5) commitment to marriage. Also, certain common reactions to dissolution were reported by the women in all types: 1) loneliness; 2) fear or anxiety; 3) growing awareness of capabilities; 4) changing emotions; 5) feelings of social isolation; 6) the desire for close intimate opposite-sex relationships. These commonalities were discussed, and their implications for further research were set forth.


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