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Journal of Counseling Psychology Copyright 1998 by the American Psychological Association, Inc.

1998, Vol. 45, No. 3, 235-246 0022-0167/98/S3.00

The Differentiation of Self Inventory:


Development and Initial Validation
Elizabeth A. Skowron and Myrna L. Friedlander
University at Albany, State University of New York

Despite the importance of Bowen theory (M.Bowen, 1976,1978; M. E. Kerr&Bowen, 1988)


in the field of family therapy, there have been relatively few studies to date examining its
constructs or propositions. To fill this gap, a self-report instrument, the Differentiation of Self
Inventory (DSI) has been developed. The DSI is a multidimensional measure of differentiation
that focuses specifically on adults (age 25+), their significant relationships, and current
relations with family of origin. Six-hundred and nine adults participated in a series of 3
studies, in which DSI scoresreflecting less emotional reactivity, cutoff, and fusion with
others, and a greater ability to take an "I position"predicted lower chronic anxiety, better
psychological adjustment, and greater marital satisfaction. Other results consistent with
Bowen theory are discussed, along with the potential contribution of the DSI for testing
Bowen theory, as a clinical assessment tool, and as an indicator of psychotherapeutic outcome.

Bowen theory (Bowen, 1976, 1978) is regarded as one of health. Differentiation of self is defined as the degree to
the few comprehensive explanations of psychological devel- which one is able to balance (a) emotional and intellectual
opment from a systemic and multigenerational perspective functioning and (b) intimacy and autonomy in relationships
(Gurman, 1991; Nichols & Schwartz, 1998). Indeed, Bowen (Bowen, 1978). On an intrapsychic level, differentiation
theory provides a foundation for the field of family therapy refers to the ability to distinguish thoughts from feelings and
that renders it distinct from the multitude of theoretical to choose between being guided by one's intellect or one's
approaches to individual psychotherapy. At present, many of emotions (Bowen, 1976, 1978). Greater differentiation al-
Bowen's (1976, 1978) concepts (e.g., differentiation of self, lows one to experience strong affect or shift to calm, logical
interlocking triangles, or reactive emotional distancing) reasoning when circumstances dictate. Flexible, adaptable,
pervade the family systems literature. Despite the vast and better able to cope with stress, more differentiated
attention Bowen theory has received from clinicians and individuals operate equally well on both emotional and
theorists alike, there have been, to date, few programmatic rational levels while maintaining a measure of autonomy
attempts to test its validity with respect to personality within their intimate relationships.
functioning or quality of interpersonal relations or to changes
as a result of psychotherapy. To begin filling this notable In contrast, poorly differentiated persons tend to be more
gap, we developed the Differentiation of Self Inventory, a emotionally reactive (Kerr & Bowen, 1988, p. 320), finding
self-report instrument for adults (ages 25+). In this article, it difficult to remain calm in response to the emotionality of
we present psychometric support for the measure, validation others. With intellect and emotions fused, they tend to make
studies to date, and implications for theory, research, and decisions on the basis of what "feels right"; in short, they
practice. are trapped in an emotional world (Bowen, 1976; Kerr,
1985).
Of the various constructs that compose Bowen theory,
differentiation of self is the personality variable most critical On an interpersonal level, differentiation of self refers to
to mature development and the attainment of psychological the ability to experience intimacy with and independence
from others. More differentiated persons are capable of
taking an / Position in relationships: maintaining a clearly
defined sense of self and thoughtfully adhering to personal
Elizabeth A. Skowron and Myrna L. Friedlander, Department of
Counseling Psychology, University at Albany, State University of convictions when pressured by others to do otherwise
New York. (Bowen, 1978, p. 252). Differentiation allows for flexible
Portions of this research, based on a doctoral dissertation by boundaries that permit emotional intimacy and physical
Elizabeth A. Skowron under the direction of Myrna L, Friedlander, union with another without a fear of merger (Bowen, 1978;
were presented at the 100th and 103rd Annual Conventions of the Kerr, 1988).
American Psychological Association. We gratefully acknowledge When overwhelmed by emotionality in their family
the valuable comments and suggestions of Richard F. Haase, relationships, poorly differentiated individuals tend to en-
Michael P. Nichols, Robert Noone, Collie Connelly, Barbara gage infusion or emotional cutoff (Ken & Bowen, 1988).
White, and Douglas Rait.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to According to Bowen theory, highly fused individuals remain
Elizabeth A. Skowron, who is now at the Department of Educa- emotionally "stuck" in the position they occupied in their
tional Psychology, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wiscon- families of origin, have few firmly held convictions and
sin 53201-0413. Electronic mail may be sent to eskowron beliefs, are either dogmatic or compliant, and seek accep-
soe.uwm.edu. tance and approval above all other goals (Bowen, 1976,

235
236 SKOWRON AND FRIEDLANDER

1978). Emotional cutoff is personified by the reactive tions. Thus, we undertook development of the Differentia-
emotional distancer, who appears aloof and isolated from tion of Self Inventory (DSI) to create a self-report instru-
others, tends to deny the importance of family, often boasts ment for adults, age 25+, capable of (a) testing theoretical
of his or her emancipation from parents, and displays an assumptions, (b) assessing individual differences in adult
exaggerated facade of independence (Nichols & Schwartz, functioning, and (c) evaluating psychotherapeutic outcomes
1998). Whereas the fused person tends to experience separa- from a systemic perspective. By defining adulthood with a
tion as overwhelming, the emotionally cutoff person finds lower limit of 25 years of age, we sought to ensure that the
intimacy profoundly threatening. Yet both individuals are samples obtained consisted of those individuals who, from a
poorly differentiated, basing self-esteem largely on the family life cycle perspective (Carter & McGoldrick, 1988),
approval of others and generally conforming to those around could be considered adults (i.e., postcollege or working,
them. living apart from the parental home, and largely financially
Theoretically, one's level of differentiation has a number independent).
of important consequences for an individual. Foremost, To adequately measure differentiation, we included both
Bowen (1978) proposed that less differentiated individuals the intrapsychic and interpersonal components, that is, the
experience greater chronic anxiety: "The average level of thinking-feeling and separateness-togetherness dimensions.
chronic anxiety of a person and of a . . . family parallels the Historically, transgenerational theorists (e.g., Boszormenyi-
basic level of differentiation of that individual and family Nagy & Ulrich, 1981; Framo, 1992) have described indi-
[and] the lower the level of basic differentiation, the higher vidual and family functioning solely in terms of interper-
the average level of chronic anxiety" (Ken" & Bowen, 1988, sonal and intergenerational family processes. Self-report
p. 115). According to Bowen (1976, 1978; Kerr & Bowen, instruments developed within this tradition include Kear's
1988), less differentiated individuals also become dysfunc- (1978) Differentiation of Self Scale, the Emotional Cutoff
tional under stress more easily and thus suffer more psycho- Scale (McCollum, 1991), the Family-of-Origin Scale (Hov-
logical and physical symptoms (e.g., anxiety, somatization, estadt, Anderson, Piercy, Cochran, & Fine, 1985), and the
depression, alcoholism, and psychoticism). Personal Authority in the Family System Questionnaire
Conversely, highly differentiated individuals are thought (Bray, Williamson, & Malone, 1984). Although each repre-
to demonstrate better psychological adjustment. Some evi- sents an important contribution to the field, none attempts to
dence has emerged in support of these notions. Greene, operationalize the range of interpersonal components of
Hamilton, and Rolling (1986) discovered that inpatient and differentiation (i.e., fusion to emotional cutoff), and none
outpatient participants, regardless of diagnosis, reported focuses on the intrapsychic aspects of differentiation (see
significantly lower levels of differentiation than did those in Bowen, 1978; Kerr & Bowen, 1988).
a nonclinical control group. Likewise, adults who report less For example, Kear's (1978) Differentiation of Self Scale
fusion in their significant relationships have been shown to consists of three factors: Separation of Thinking and Feel-
experience fewer self-reported health problems (Bray, Har- ing, Emotional Maturity, and Emotional Autonomy; yet
vey, & Williamson, 1987). items reflect only interpersonal components of differentia-
More highly differentiated individuals are also expected tion and ignore quality of relations with spouse or partner.
to remain in satisfying contact with their families of origin, The Differentiation of Self Scale suffers also from signifi-
establish more satisfying marriages, and be effective prob- cant methodological limitations. For instance, a factor
lem solvers (Bowen, 1976, 1978). At present, only indirect analysis used to create its subscales was conducted on 72
support exists for the theoretical link between differentiation initial items using only 50 participants (see Nunnally, 1978).
and marital satisfaction. Jacobson and his colleagues (Jacob- McCollum's (1986, 1991) Emotional Cutoff Scale is an
son, Follette, & McDonald, 1982; Jacobson, Waldron, & excellent measure of the degree to which respondents
Moore, 1980) found that behavioral reactivity, defined as the manage their emotional attachment to each parent through
tendency for spouses to react at the affective level to some cutoff. Yet its limited focus on relations with parents ignores
immediate stimulus from the partner, was associated with the presence of emotional cutoff in current significant
marital distress. Couples who reported greater marital relationships as well as other aspects of differentiation. To
satisfaction showed less emotional reactivity in their ex- respond to the Family of Origin Scale (Hovestadt et al.,
changes, whereas interactions of distressed couples were 1985), adults provide retrospective perceptions of their
characterized by heightened emotional reactivity to immedi- family of origin relations, whereas adolescents are asked to
ate positive and negative events in their relationships give their current perceptions of relations with family (e.g.,
(Jacobson, Follette, & McDonald, 1982; Jacobson, Waldron, Niedermeier, Handal, Brown, Searight, & Manley, 1992).
& Moore, 1980). Harvey, Curry, and Bray (1991) observed The retrospective ratings emphasize the past and ignore the
that greater fusion and less intimacy with one's parents respondent's current relations with family members. And
predicted deficits in intimacy and greater emotional reactiv- although the Personal Authority in the Family System
ity with one's spouse. Questionnaire (Bray et al., 1984) includes items about
Concern has been expressed about the paucity of empiri- current relationships, it neglects the concept of emotional
cal research on the basic principles or constructs in Bowen cutoff as well as the intrapsychic aspects of Bowen's (1976,
theory (Gurman, 1978,1991). If Bowen theory is to continue 1978) concept of differentiation.
to contribute significantly to the field, empirical means are There also exist several self-report measures of separation-
needed to test (and potentially modify) its basic assump- individuation based on object relations theory (e.g., Hoff-
DIFFERENTIATION OF SELF 237

man, 1984; Levine, Green, & Millon, 1986; Olver, Aries, & a suburban athletic team, (c) graduate students in counseling
Batgos, 1990). These separation-individuation measures psychology, clinical psychology, and social work, and (d) available
were designed for use with late adolescents rather than friends and acquaintances of research team members. Completed
adults, and none contain items that deal with marital questionnaires were returned by 213 women and 98 men (2 gender
relations or that reflect problems in achieving a balance unspecified), 75% of whom were married, 49% with children. On
average, participants were 36.8 years of age (SD = 9.69,
between intimacy and autonomy. The concept of differentia-
range = 25-65). In terms of ethnicity, 5.1% of the sample were
tion, as defined by Bowen (1976, 1978), is often misinter- African American, 4.5% Asian American, 2.2% Latino-Latina,
preted in the family therapy literature and equated with 1.9% Native American, 82.7% White, and 3.2% other.
individuation or autonomy. Although similar in some re- Instruments. Participants completed the 96-item DSI described
spects, separation-individuation is not equivalent to differen- above. The Trait version of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory
tiation of self. Individuation, from an object relations (STAI-T; Spielberger, Gorsuch, & Lushene, 1970) is a well-
perspective (e.g., Bios, 1975; Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, established 20-item self-report measure of relatively stable indi-
1975), involves the achievement of independence and a vidual differences in anxiety proneness. Internal consistency esti-
unique sense of identity. Differentiation of self is the mates for the STATT-T have ranged from .86 to .92, and a
capacity to maintain autonomous thinking and achieve a test-retest reliability correlation over a 3-month interval was
clear, coherent sense of self in the context of emotional reported to be .75. In contrast to large changes in STAI-State scores
relationships with important others. produced by stress conditions, STAI-T scores of chronic anxiety
remain stable and unaffected by experimentally induced stresses
To create the DSI, a series of studies was undertaken (Spielberger et al., 1970).
based on three different samples. The purpose of these Procedure. We contacted participants by form letter and asked
studies was to develop and validate the DSI using a construct them to take part in a research project that focused on adults'
approach to test construction (e.g., Jackson, 1970; Jackson interpersonal relationships and their relationships with their fami-
& Messick, 1958; Loevinger, 1957; NunnalLy, 1978). Jack- lies of origin. Questionnaire packets consisted of the DSI, a
son's recommendations for personality scale development demographic sheet, and the STAI-T. Each packet included a cover
were used to construct items that would adequately reflect letter stating the purpose of the study and explaining the voluntary
the domain (i.e., differentiation of self), be clear and and anonymous nature of the research. Postage-paid envelopes
unambiguous, be relatively free of social desirability bias were provided.
and other content biases, have high discriminatory power,
and, as a set, sufficiently represent the underlying construct Results and Discussion
of differentiation (Jackson, 1970).
Subscales were developed on the basis of the responses of
313 adults. A principal-components analysis was conducted
Study 1 using an orthogonal rotation. We used a principal-compo-
nents analysis because we were interested in identifying a
The purpose of this study was to create the DSI. First, few coherent dimensions that best reflected the various
definitions, descriptions, and examples from Bowen (1976, aspects of the differentiation. Bowen's theory has many
1978; Anonymous, 1972) and his successors (Kerr, 1985; constructs that are not mutually exclusive but that relate to
Kerr & Bowen, 1988; Nichols, 1984; Nichols & Schwartz, differentiation of self. To have created subscales based
1998; Papero, 1990) were used to generate a pool of items solely on our own biases as to the relative importance of
that exemplify differentiation of self. Items (N = 96) gener- these theoretical constructs seemed less rigorous (cf. Jack-
ated by our research team reflected the ability to distinguish son, 1970) than allowing the respondents' ratings to help
and balance (a) thinking and feeling and (b) the capacity for determine the salient dimensions of the measure. Thus,
intimacy with and autonomy from others in current impor- although we created an initial pool of 96 items representa-
tant relationships as well as with parents and siblings. tive of the substantive domain of differentiation, the final
Differentiation was operationalized in a multidimensional basis of item selection was empirical.
fashion, given that Bowen (1976, 1978) described many Four factors were identified with eigenvalues greater than
components of differentiation in his writings. Further, Gur- 3.0, ranging from 11.43 to 3.34. Results of Cattail's scree
man (1978) argued that differentiation, like any complex plot of the factor variances showed a substantial break after
psychological construct, is inherently multidimensional. We four factors; these four factors accounted for 26.2% of the
used a principal-components analysis to identify the DSFs variance. To interpret the factors and construct scales, we
dimensionality and determine final item selection. Theoreti- considered only those items loading at least .40 on a single
cal relations between differentiation and chronic anxiety factor (n = 43). The following factors were identified:
were tested to assess the initial construct validity of the DSI Factor 1, with 12 items, was defined as Emotional Reactiv-
(i.e., Bowen's proposition that poorly differentiated individu- ity; Factor 2, with 10 items, was defined as taking an
als also experience more chronic anxiety). I Position; Factor 3, with 13 items, was defined as Reactive
Distancing; and Factor 4, with 9 items, was defined as
Method Fusion With Parents, (A table listing items and their factor
loadings is available from Elizabeth A. Skowron.)
Participants. Participants were adults (A^ =313) living in New We conducted subsequent analyses, using the four
York, Ohio, and California, including (a) randomly selected faculty subscale scores and a total DSI score. Scores were reversed
and staff at a large state university, (b) parents of children on on the items constituting Emotional Reactivity, Reactive
238 SKOWRON AND FRIEDLANDER

Distancing, and Fusion With Parents subscales to signify conducted to minimize social desirability bias and select the
less differentiation; thus, higher scores on each subscale best items for each subscale. Descriptive statistics were
reflected greater levels of differentiation. To compute the computed, along with internal consistency reliabilities.
DSI full scale, all 44 items were summed so that higher
scores reflected greater differentiation of self.
Internal consistency estimates using Cronbach's alpha Method
suggested high reliabilities for the DSI total scale and each
Participants, Adults (n = 169, 111 women and 58 men), age
of the four subscales: DSI = .88; Emotional Reactivity =
25+, who were employed at a large northeastern state agency, took
.83; Reactive Distancing = .80; Fusion With Parents = .82; part in the research. Participants averaged 42.34 years of age
and I Position = .80. Subscale correlations with the DSI full (SD = 8.59). The majority were married (70.2%; M - 15.04
scale were moderate to high: .59 (Fusion With Parents), .65 years), 13.7% were single, 6.3% were unmarried and living with a
(I Position), .75 (Reactive Distancing), and .80 (Emotional partner, and 9.5% were separated or divorced. In terms of ethnicity,
Reactivity). Correlations among the four subscales were 90.4% were White, 5.4% African American, 0.6% Asian American,
small to moderate: .37 (Emotional Reactivity and I Posi- 0.6% Latino-Latina, 0.6% Native American, and 2.4% other.
tion), .45 (Emotional Reactivity and Reactive Distancing), Approximately 15% of participants were currentLy in therapy; 45%
.31 (Emotional Reactivity and Fusion With Parents), .34 (I had sought therapy in the past.
Position and Reactive Distancing), .17 (I Position and Instruments. The DSI used in Study 2 contained 78 items
Fusion With Parents), and .18 (Reactive Distancing and constituting four subscales: Emotional Reactivity, I Position,
Fusion With Parents). In support of the DSI's construct Emotional Cutoff, and Fusion With Others. To rate each item,
validity, level of differentiation, as measured by the DSI, respondents used a 6-point Likert-type scale, ranging from not at
all true of me (1) to very true of me (6). Crowne and Marlowe's
correlated highly with a measure of chronic anxiety. DSI (1964) Social Desirability Scale (SDS), a 33-item true-false
full-scale scores significantly predicted Trait Anxiety, mea- self-report measure, was used to estimate the tendency to describe
sured by the STAI-T (r = .64, p < .0001). Correlations oneself in favorable terms. Internal consistency reliability has been
between Trait Anxiety and the four subscales ranged from estimated at .88, with test-retest correlations at .88 and .89
.16 (p < .01, Fusion With Parents) to .51 (I Position), .55 (Crowne & Marlowe, 1960,1964; Robinson & Shaver, 1973).
(Reactive Distancing), and .58 (Emotional Reactivity), all Procedure. Adults, age 25+, who were employed at a large
remaining ps < .0001. northeastern state agency, took part in the research. Cluster-
sampling procedures were used to randomly select 2 departments
from a large northeastern state agency, out of 32 total from which to
Study 2 solicit participants. Three hundred potential participants were
contacted by interagency mail. Each packet included a cover letter
The purpose of Study 2 was to revise the theoretical focus explaining the voluntary and anonymous nature of the research, the
and item content of the original DSI because of the two counterbalanced questionnaires, and a demographic sheet. The
considerable amount of variance left unaccounted for in the study was described as "focusing on adults' interpersonal relation-
previous factor analysis. In this study, the DSI subscales ships, relationships with family members, and (their) general
attitudes." Participants returned completed packets by mail in
underwent conceptual revisions, and its psychometric prop-
sealed envelopes. One hundred sixty-nine participants returned
erties were strengthened on the basis of item analyses and a completed questionnaires, for a 56% return rate.
critical examination of social desirability bias. Once again, a
construct approach to personality scale construction (e.g.,
Cronbach & Meehl, 1955; Jackson, 1970; Jackson &
Results
Messick, 1958; Loevinger, 1957; Nunnally, 1978) was used.
The factor structure of the original DSI was retained in the Item analyses. Statistical analyses were performed at
present revision. First, the four or five items with the highest the item level to discern the DSI's inherent factor and to
item-total correlations within each subscale were identified. ensure that each subscale was homogeneous and distinct
The content of these items guided our decisions about from the other three subscales (Campbell & Fiske, 1959;
retaining or modifying each subscale name or definition. The Jackson, 1970). All items met a priori criteria for response
Emotional Reactivity and I Position subscales appeared to distribution (i.e., items with skewness and kurtosis values
best represent the constructs as in the literature and thus between 1.5 and 1.5 and SDs >: 1 were retained). Thirty-
underwent only modest revisions. Because the Reactive five items were eliminated due to low item-scale correla-
Distancing and Fusion With Parents subscales had emerged tions (i.e., items with item-subscale correlations <.45 were
as conceptually weaker, we refined their conceptualizations eliminated). Seven items were rekeyed because they loaded
and renamed them Emotional Cutoff and Fusion With highly on another subscale and demonstrated good discrimi-
Others, respectively. nation between subscales and because the Bowen experts we
Revisiting definitions and descriptions of differentiation consulted suggested that those items corresponded more
based on Bowen theory (Anonymous, 1972; Bowen, 1976, highly to that respective subscale.
1978; Kerr & Bowen, 1988), we generated a pool of 78 No additional items were eliminated on the basis of
items, which was submitted along with subscale definitions criteria for evaluating social desirability bias. Correlations
to two experts on Bowen theory, who suggested the revision between DSI items and social desirability scores ranged
of some items and subscale definitions. Next, on the basis of from -.15 to .49. None of the remaining 43 items were
the responses of a second adult sample, item analyses were found to lower the internal consistency reliability of their
DIFFERENTIATION OF SELF 239
respective subscales; thus, no additional items were elimi- Position) to .53 (Fusion With Others and Emotional Reactiv-
nated. (Tables illustrating item response distributions, skew- ity; see Table 2). Correlations between DSI subscales and
ness and kurtosis values, item correlations with the SDS, SDS scores were negligible to moderate {r .42 for Emo-
item-subscale correlations, and item reliability analyses are tional Reactivity, r = .49 for I Position, r = .34 for Emo-
available from Elizabeth A. Skowron.) tional Cutoff, and r = - .02 for Fusion With Others).
Description of the DSL The resulting 43-item DSI (see Cronbach's alpha was used to estimate internal consistency
Appendix) contains four subscales: Emotional Reactivity, I reliabilities for the DSI full scale and each of the four
Position, Emotional Cutoff, and Fusion With Others. The subscales (DSI a = .88, Emotional Reactivity a = .84; I
11-item Emotional Reactivity subscale reflects the degree to Position a = .83, Emotional Cutoff a = .82; Fusion With
which a person responds to environmental stimuli with Others a = .74).
emotional flooding, emotional lability, or hypersensitivity.
The I Position subscale contains 11 items that reflect a
clearly defined sense of self and the ability to thoughtfully Study 3
adhere to one's convictions when pressured to do otherwise.
The 12-item Emotional Cutoff subscale reflects feeling After the DSI subscale revisions in Study 2, a third sample
threatened by intimacy and feeling excessive vulnerability was obtained to evaluate the DSI's factor structure using
in relations with others. Items reflect fears of engulfment and confirmatory factor analyses and to test theoretically pre-
behavioral defenses like overfunctioning, distancing, or dicted relations between differentiation of self, psychologi-
denial. Finally, the 9-item Fusion With Others subscale cal symptoms, and marital satisfaction. It was hypothesized
reflects emotional overinvolvement with others, including that (a) significant inverse relationships between symptom-
triangulation and overidentification with parents. atology and the DSI subscales would support Bowen's
(1976,1978) assumption that highly differentiated individu-
To compute the DSI full-scale score, raw scores on all als are more free of symptoms and generally better adjusted
items in the Emotional Reactivity, Emotional Cutoff, and and (b) significant positive relationships between marital
Fusion With Others subscales and on one item in the I satisfaction and the DSI subscales would support Bowen's
Position subscale (#35) are reversed, so that higher scores (1976,1978; Kerr & Bowen, 1988) proposition that individu-
signify greater differentiation. Scores on all items are then als with higher levels of differentiation establish more
summed and divided by the total number of items, so that the satisfying marriages.
full-scale score ranges from 1 (low differentiation) to 6 {high
differentiation). To facilitate comparison of full-scale and
subscale scores, each subscale is also computed by reversing
respective items, summing item scores, and then dividing by Method
the number of items in the subscale (Emotional Reactiv- Participants. A total of 127 adults (118 employees and 9
ity = 11, I Position = 11, Emotional Cutoff = 12, Fusion spouses) participated, with only 91 married adults completing the
With Others = 9). Scores on each subscale thus range from Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS). Participants were 53 men and 73
1 to 6, with higher scores reflecting greater differentiation. women (1 gender unspecified), with an average age of 42.23 years
Descriptive statistics. All scores were normally distrib- (SD 10.22, range 25-72 years). Married respondents constituted
uted; subscale means ranged from 2.07 to 4.34 (full-scale 59.5% of the sample (M = 12.72 years married, SD = 9.74). Of the
remainder, 15.9% were single, 9.4% were unmarried and living
M = 3.73, SD = 0.58; see Table 1). Subscale-full-scale with a partner, 13.5% were separated or divorced, and 1,6% were
correlations were moderate to high, ranging from .43 widowed. More than half of the participants (61.8%) were parents
(Fusion With Others) to .80 (Emotional Reactivity), all ps < (M = 2.13 children, SD = 0.94). In terms of ethnicity, 90.5% of the
.001. Intercorrelations among the subscales were low to sample were White, 4.0% African American, 2.4% Asian Ameri-
moderate, ranging from .08 (Fusion With Others and I can, 1.6% Latino-Latina, and 0.8% Native American. Ten percent

Table 1
Means and Standard Deviations on the DSI
Study 3
Study 2 Total Men Women
Scale M SD M SD M SD M SD
ER 3.35 0.90 3.37 0.94 3.69a 0.88 3.18b 0.92
IP 4.01 0.83 4.08 0.85 4.24 0.90 3.97 0.81
EC 4.34 0.87 4.53 0.79 4.44 0.77 4.61 0.81
FO 2.97 0.88 2.92 0.85 3.05 0.89 2.82 0.82
DSI 3.73 0.58 3.74 0.60 3.87 0.55 3.64 0.61
Note. For Study 2, n = 169; for Study 3, n = 127 (53 men, 73 women, 1 unspecified). DSI =
Differentiation of Self Inventory; ER = Emotional Reactivity; IP = I Position; EC = Emotional
Cutoff; FO = Fusion With Others. Scores range from 1 to 6. Higher scores on all scales reflect greater
differentiation of self. Means in the same row that do not share subscripts differ at p < .01.
240 SKOWRON AND FRIEDLANDER

Table 2 Procedure. Three hundred adult participants were randomly


Intercorrelations Among Subscales selected from an available sample of staff (e.g., administrative,
and Subscale-Full-Scale Correlations building maintenance, and clerical), faculty, and their spouses at a
northeastern state university. Participants were contacted by letter
Scale 1 through the campus mail and asked to complete a packet consisting
Study 2 of the three randomly ordered questionnaires and a demographic
sheet. Unmarried participants were instructed to disregard the
1. DSI DAS, and married volunteers were invited to request an additional
2. ER .80** packet for their spouse. (The original plan was to compare couples'
3. IP .61** .46** scores, but too few spouses returned questionnaires.) Each packet
4. EC .64** .27* .31* included a cover letter that described the study as "focusing on
5. FO .43** .53** .08 -.12 adults1 interpersonal relationships, relationships with family mem-
Study 3 bers, and (their) general attitudes" and explained its voluntary and
anonymous nature. The return rate was 42.3%.
1. DSI
2. ER .84**
3. IP .69** .53**
4. EC .58** .25 .28* Results
5. FO .52** .48** .12 -.04
Preliminary analyses. Means and standard deviations
Note. DSI = Differentiation of Self Inventory; ER = Emotional
Reactivity; IP = I Position; EC - Emotional Cutoff; FO = Fusion on the four DSI subscale and full-scale scores were highly
With Others. Scores on the DSI and subscales range from 1 to 6. similar to those obtained in Study 2 (see Table 1). As in
Higher scores on all scales represent greater differentiation of self. Study 2, scores were normally distributed, subscale intercor-
*p < .001, two-tailed. **p < .0001, two-tailed. relations were moderate (Emotional Reactivity and I Posi-
tion r .53; Emotional Reactivity and Fusion With Others
r = .48) to negligible (e.g., Fusion With Others and Emo-
of participants were currently in therapy; 52.70% had past experi- tional Cutoff r= - .04; see Table 2).
ence in psychotherapy, predominantly (59.40%) in individual Factor analyses. We conducted a confirmatory factor
treatment.
analysis, using Lisrel 7, to evaluate the four-factor structure
Instruments. The four subscales in the 43-item DSI were used
of the DSI. Given the limitations inherent in using Lisrel
as predictor variables. In the Study 3 sample, internal consistency
reliabilities were moderate to high and similar to those obtained in procedures when fitting models with large numbers of
previous studies (DSI a = .88, Emotional Reactivity a = .88; 1 single-item indicators such as the DSI, an item-clustering
Position a = .85; Emotional Cutoff a = .79; Fusion With Others procedure was used to increase the stability of the indicators
a = .70). (c.f. Anderson & Gerbing, 1988; Joreskog & Sdrbom, 1986;
The Hopkins Symptom Checklist (Derogatis, Lipman, Rickels, MacCallum, 1986). For each of the 4 DSI subscales, single
Uhlenhuth, & Covi, 1974) is a well-known self-report measure items were randomly summed into meta-items, comprising 3
assessing psychological symptomatology on five dimensions: So- or 4 items each, resulting in 3 indicators per subscale, or 12
matization, Obsessive-Compulsive, Interpersonal Sensitivity, De- indicators in all. Table 3 contains the correlation matrix
pression, and Anxiety. Items are rated on a 4-point Likert-type among the 12 confirmatory factor analysis indicator variables.
scale, ranging from 1 (not at all) to 4 (extremely), reflecting the
degree of distress experienced within the past 7 days. Its General Fit indices used to evaluate the model included the
Severity Index (GSI) reflects intensity of distress independent of goodness-of-fit index (GFI), adjusted goodness-of-fit index
the number of symptoms endorsed (Derogatis, Yevzeroff, & (adjusted GFI), a chi-square to degrees of freedom ratio
Wittelsberger, 1975). The GSI is sensitive to symptom changes (X2'4O, and the root mean squared of the residuals (RMS).
over the course of psychotherapy (Rickels et al., 1971) and is used GFI values greater than .90, adjusted GFI values greater than
most often to provide a summary measure of symptomatology .80, a x W r a t i o less than 2.0, and RMS values less than . 10
(Derogatis et al., 1974). The GSI is computed by summing the five indicate a well-fitting model (cf, Cole, 1987; Joreskog &
raw symptom subscales and dividing by 58; scores range from 1 to Sorbom, 1986; Marsh & Hocevar, 1985).
4, with higher scores indicating greater symptomatology. Internal
The four-factor model of differentiation, corresponding to
consistency reliabilities range from .84 to .87, and test-retest
coefficients range from .75 to .84 (Derogatis et al., 1974). GSI the four DSI subscales, was tested. Indicators expected to
scores in the present sample ranged from 1.0 to 2.6 (M = 1.5, load on each factor were stated in advance (Nunnally, 1978).
SD = 0.33). Each of the indicators was permitted to load freely on its
Spanier's (1976) DAS assesses relationship discord and overall respective factor and was constrained to 0 on the other
marital satisfaction. The DAS yields a total score ranging from 0 to factors. Each latent variable was scaled to the first indicator
151, with higher scores reflecting better marital adjustment. by fixing its value to 1.00. A maximum-likelihood solution
Internal consistency reliability of the DAS full-scale score has been was used to fit the model to the data. The fit of this
reported at .96 (Spanier, 1976). Construct validity is supported by four-factor model was good, x2(48, N = 137) = 89.35,
significant correlations with other well-known measures of marital p < .0001, GFI = .91, adjusted GFI = .85, ^idf = 1.86,
adjustment and by results showing that divorced couples score RMS = .07.
significantly lower than married couples (Spanier, 1976, 1988). Figure 1 illustrates the four latent variables (Emotional
Scores in the present sample ranged from 50 to 150 (M = 104,
Reactivity, I Position, Emotional Cutoff, and Fusion With
SD = 17.9). On the basis of the accepted DAS cutoff score of 98
(Eddy, Heyman, & Weiss, 1991; Jacobson et al., 1984), 30 married Others), the individual indicator loadings on the latent
participants (30.90%) in Study 3 were classified as maritally variables, and the residual error terms. Correlations among
distressed. the four factors were negligible to moderate, ranging from
DIFFERENTIATION OF SELF 241

Table 3
Correlation Matrix for Confirmatory Factor Analyses
Variable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
1. ER,
2. ER2 .74
3. ER3 .76 .63
4. IP! .35 .24 .35
5. IP2 .49 .42 .46 .70
6. IP3 .45 .40 .53 .47 .64
7. ECi .22 .26 .26 .20 .23 .32
8. EC2 .16 .27 .24 .28 .18 .39 .51
9. EC3 .06 .13 .18 .06 .01 .15 .50 .62
10. FO! .34 .39 .30 .01 .02 .00 .07 .02 -.01
11. FO2 .37 .33 .31 .13 .21 .14 .04 -.06 -.12 .49
12. FO 3 .32 .33 .32 -.05 .05 .09 -.08 -.05 -.07 .48 .50
Note. ER = Emotional Reactivity; IP = I Position; EC - Emotional Cutoff; FO = Fusion With
Others; DSI = Differentiation of Self Inventory. ER, = DSI Items 1,14,26, 38; ER2 = DSI Items 6,
18, 30,40; ER3 = DSI Items 10, 21,34; IPi = DSI Items 4,15,27,41; EP2 = DSI Items 7,19, 31,43;
TP3 = DSI Items 11, 23, 35; EC, = DSI Items 2, 12, 24, 36; EC2 - DSI Items 3, 16, 28, 39; EC3 =
DSI Items 8,20,32,42; FOj = DSI Items 5,17,29; FO2 = DSI Items 9,22,33; FO3 = DSI Items 13,
25, 37. To estimate each indicator, individual items were summed and divided by number of items per
indicator.

- . 0 6 (Fusion With Others and Emotional Cutoff) to .59 Emotional Cutoff; both p$ < .001. Valences of these beta
(Emotional Reactivity and I Position). Next, a related factor weights indicated that greater emotional reactivity and
model was also tested representing the four DSI subscales as cutoff predicted greater symptomatic distress.
factors, with differentiation of self identified as a single, Next, we performed a univariate multiple regression
higher order latent factor. Results were also positive, x2(50, analysis on the set of four DSI predictors, two covariates,
N = 137) = 94.58, p < .0001, GFI - .91, adjusted GFI = and the criterion, DAS. Only data from the married partici-
.86, and y^tdf = 1.89, for the DSI as representing a single, pants (n = 91) were analyzed. A significant relationship
multidimensional construct. emerged between scores on the four DSI subscales and the
Tests of Bowen theory. On the basis of the results of DAS. With age and gender controlled, F(4, 84) = 6.79, p <
preliminary univariate regression and one-way analyses of .0001, ^semipartiai = -24 higher DSI scores predicted greater
variance conducted using a familywise alpha of .01, age and marital satisfaction. Only Emotional Cutoff made a signifi-
gender, respectively, were included as covariates in the cant, unique contribution, /3 = .39, f(l, 84) = 3.86, p <
major analyses. Gender showed a significant relationship .001, indicating that less emotional cutoff predicted greater
with Emotional Reactivity, F(l, 113) = 7.05, p = .01, with satisfaction.
women reporting relatively more emotional reactivity
(M = 3.18) than men (M = 3.69; see Table 1). (Recall that
because higher subscale scores reflect greater differentiation, General Discussion
a lower Emotional Reactivity score signifies greater emo-
tional reactivity). Age showed a unique relationship with Our aim, to construct a reliable, valid self-report measure
Fusion Wilh Others, r(l, 104) - 3.08, p < .003, r = .45, of differentiation of self for adults using a construct ap-
with younger participants reporting greater difficulties with proach to test development, was realized in these investiga-
fusion. Level of educational attainment, marital status tions. While a portion of the items were created or reworded
(single vs. married), parental status (yes vs. no), and during the Study 2 revision of the DSI, its multidimensional
treatment history all failed to predict DSI scores at a = .01. structure was retained. Confirmatory factor analyses demon-
(A table illustrating intercorrelations among predictor, covari- strated support for the DSI subscales, Emotional Reactivity,
ate, and criterion variables is available from Elizabeth A. I Position, Emotional Cutoff, and Fusion with Others, as
Skowron.) identifiable, empirically distinct dimensions of a single
A univariate multiple regression analysis was conducted, construct, differentiation of self. Subsequent analyses with
with four predictors (DSI subscales), two covariates, and the the DSI subscales supported the internal consistency reliabil-
criterion variable, GSI. A significant inverse relationship ity and initial construct validity of the measure. Tests of
emerged between scores on the four DSI subscales and the Bowen theory supported the hypothesized relations between
GSI, with age and gender controlled, F(4,104) = 18.73,p < self-reported differentiation, symptomatology, and marital
.0001,tf^mipartia!= -42. In other words, higher differentiation satisfaction, providing important psychometric support for
scores predicted significantly less symptomatic distress. the DSI.
Examination of the t tests on each beta weight showed that Differentiation of self, estimated by the DSI subscales,
Emotional Reactivity and Emotional Cutoff made significant correlated significantly with amount and intensity of symp-
unique contributions, /3 = - . 4 5 , t(\, 104) = -4.07 for tomatic distress. The unique predictors of global maladjust-
Emotional Reactivity; /3 = -.32, t{\, 104) = -3.90 for ment were Emotional Reactivity and Emotional Cutoff, the
242 SKOWRON AND FRIEDLANDER

er, er,

.17 .36 32 .15 .51 .58 34 .44 .52 .51 .50


r 1' 1r if ^f 1r y r i

ER1 ER2 ER3 IP1 IP2 IP3 EC1 EC2 EC3 FO1 FO2 FO3

.92 .82 .70


.83

Figure 1. Study 3: four-factor model confirmatory factor loadings, error variances, and correlations
among the latent variables (ER = Emotional Reactivity; IP = I Position; EC = Emotional Cutoff;
FO = Fusion With Others).

two subscales whose items reflect difficulties in handling tion, in which "withdrawal from interaction," or cutoff,
affect. (Differentiation scores obtained in Study 1 also predicted concurrent marital distress and deterioration in
significantly predicted trait anxiety, a noteworthy indicator marital satisfaction over time (p. 49). Perhaps further study
of construct validity because, according to Bowen theory, of differentiation and its relationship to marital satisfaction
lack of differentiation is closely equated with chronic may reveal that separation and divorce represent extreme
anxiety; Kerr & Bowen, 1988.) These results, taken together, behavioral manifestations of emotional cutoff in relation-
suggest support for Bowen's (1976, 1978; Kerr & Bowen, ships. Could increases in emotional cutoff or emotionally
1988) contention that differentiation of self is an important avoidant defenses be a common cause or result of divorce? If
aspect of psychological well-being. so, would such changes be state dependent or longstanding
Taken together, the four DSI subscales also showed a in nature?
strong relationship with marital satisfaction. According to Other results revealed some interesting patterns in differ-
Bowen theory (Bowen, 1978; Kerr & Bowen, 1988), marital entiation across age and gender. First, there was no relation-
problems are created when spouses are less differentiated, ship observed between age and scores on the I Position
and the resulting reactivity or cutoff heightens their anxiety. subscale, suggesting that younger adults are just as capable
Emotional Cutoff scores also were found to uniquely predict as their older counterparts of defining a self and behaving
marital satisfaction. Such a result is consistent with Gottman autonomously (Bowen, 1978). With respect to gender,
and KrokofTs (1989) longitudinal study of marital interac- Bowen (1978) asserted that no gender differences exist on
DIFFERENTIATION OF SELF 243

levels of differentiation. In contrast, sex role socialization, ders occur with more frequency among those with lower
self-in-relation, and feminist family theorists (e.g., Carter & differentiation, further evidence for the DSI's construct
McGoldrick, 1988; Chodorow, 1978; Gilligan, 1982; Jossel- validity may be found by determining whether differentia-
son, 1988; Luepnitz, 1988; Miller, 1976) would posit that tion scores covary with severity of psychiatric diagnoses,
gender differences exist on differentiation, with women that is, major depressive disorder vs. dysthymic disorder;
more likely to endorse Emotional Reactivity items and men alcohol dependence vs. abuse; or Axis II vs. Axis I disorders
more likely to endorse Emotional Cutoff items. The results (according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of
of our investigations revealed that women reported signifi- Mental Disorders; American Psychiatric Association, 1994).
cantly greater emotional reactivity than did men. Con- It is expected that the DSI may contribute to the practice
versely, no significant gendeT differences were observed on of family therapy in several ways. First, the instrument may
Emotional Cutoff. Given that significant gender differences provide a means for identifying individual differences in
were present on level of education (with men reporting various aspects of functioning that are purportedly stable
greater levels than women) and that samples comprised and central to a client's intrapsychic and interpersonal
unequal numbers of men and women, caution is advised in well-being. Second, Bowen (1976, 1978) recommended
interpreting the observed gender effects. We encourage working only with the most differentiated person in a family,
investigators to continue testing the DSI for gender differ- theorizing that change achieved by this individual will
ences, using equal numbers of men and women from other indirectly benefit the entire family system. Researchers
socioeconomic strata and matched on relevant third vari- could test Bowen's assertion by comparing the effectiveness
ables to clarify the ways in which differentiation problems of individual therapy with the most differentiated family
are manifested across genders. member versus traditional family systems therapy with all
Although efforts were made to sample three separate, family members present (cf. Szapocznik, Kurtines, Foote,
heterogeneous groups of adults, future tests of the DSI are Perez-Vidal, & Hervis, 1983). Perhaps the DSI could be
needed, with new samples representing a wider range of used as a screening device to identify the family member
demographic variables. Results of the exploratory and most likely to enter into and benefit from treatment.
confirmatory factor analyses may have differed with differ- Third, because the construct differentiation is multidimen-
ent samples. Cross-validation is needed with larger samples, sional, a comparative analysis of a client's scores on the DSI
and demographic characteristics of the respondents need to subscales may help pinpoint which aspect of differentiation
be taken into account. The current respondents were, on is most problematic (e.g., emotional reactivity or problems
average, middle-aged, White, educated, employed individu- taking an I position) and whether the client copes with his or
als who were married and had children. In addition, no her interpersonal difficulties through, for example, fusion or
test-retest reliability estimates were obtained for the DSI or emotional cutoff. Indeed, an understanding of differentiation
its subscales. provided by use of the DSI in future investigations could
Ethnicity is another characteristic that should be taken result in important implications for treatment. For example,
into account, because only approximately 10% of the emotional cutoff displayed by spouses in marital therapy
present samples identified themselves as minority members. might suggest the need for interpersonal, experiential inter-
Further independent studies are needed with adults from ventions (e.g., Greenberg & Johnson, 1988), whereas emo-
different ethnic groups, to test Bowen's (1978; Kerr & tionally reactive young adults who are fused with their
Bowen, 1988) assertion that differentiation of self is univer- parents might benefit more from an individual, insight-
sally applicable. We suspect that in Latino-Latina, Native oriented approach. Clients in the midst of marital separation
American, or Asian cultures, for example, Fusion With or postdivorce adjustment may benefit from family-of-origin
Others might not correlate significantly with chronic anxi- work (e.g., Framo, 1992) to gain insight into the nature of
ety, psychological symptoms, or marital dissatisfaction. their partner choices and decrease emotional cutoff and
Perhaps in Asian cultures, where autonomy and self- reactivity in their intimate relationships.
assertion are less valued that in Western societies, I Position Likewise, researchers might investigate whether couples
scores may correlate positively (rather than negatively, as could benefit from premarital counseling that incorporates
reported here) with symptomatology and chronic anxiety. use of the DSI. Could results of their scores on the four
These questions await future investigation. subscales be used to facilitate discussion about which
One of the greatest challenges in creating a self-report aspects of differentiation are more difficult for each of them
measure of differentiation is the difficulty inherent in and how their characteristic differentiation problems are
measuring a systemic construct in a reliable and valid primarily expressed? For example, with respect to the
manner. Given the possibility for error due to monomethod distance-pursue pattern frequently observed in couples and
bias in the current studies, further support for the validity of noted in the family therapy literature (e.g., Friedlander,
the DSI could be obtained by comparing adults' self-ratings Heatherington, Johnson, & Skowron, 1994; Guerin, Fogarty,
with Bowen experts' ratings of their levels of differentiation Fay, & Kautto, 1996; Minuchin & Nichols, 1993), might
obtained through structured clinical interviews (cf. Kerr & emotional cutoff in one spouse be complemented (and
Bowen, 1988). If the therapists' ratings closely reflect their heightened) by greater fusion in the other, and vice versa?
clients* self-reported scores, such a result would further Would couples in premarital counseling, who learn about
support the instrument's construct validity. Likewise, given their contrasting differentiation styles in the context of
Bowen's (1978) proposition that chronic, debilitating disor- communication and problem-solving skills training, supple-
244 SKOWRON AND FRIEDLANDER

ment their skill development with a deeper understanding of Derogatis, L. R., Lipman, R. S., Rickels, K., Uhlenhuth, E. H., &
one another's characteristic styles of reacting to stress? Covi, L. (1974). The Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL): A
Finally, the DSI may lend itself to the examination of self-report symptom inventory. Behavioral Science, 19, 1-15.
client outcome in therapy. In future investigations, the DSI Derogatis, L. R., Yevzeroff, H., & Wittelsberger, B. (1975). Social
could be used to test Bowen's (1978; Kerr & Bowen, 1988) class, psychological disorder, and the nature of the psychopatho-
proposition that psychotherapy can produce moderate in- logic indicator. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology,
creases in a person's level of differentiation. Given that 43, 183-191.
differentiation scores are strongly associated with overall Eddy, J. M., Heyman, R. E., & Weiss, R. L. (1991). An empirical
psychological adjustment (as Bowen asserted), if the DSI evaluation of the Dyadic Adjustment Scale: Exploring the
differences between marital "satisfaction" and "adjustment."
subscales are also demonstrated to be sensitive to changes in
Behavioral Assessment, 13, 199-220.
the client's differentiation over the course of therapy,
Framo, J. L. (1992). Family of origin therapy. New York: Brurmer/
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A. (1994). "Sustaining engagement": A change event in family
therapy. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 41, 438-448.
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{Appendix follows)
246 SKOWRON AND FRIEDLANDER

Appendix

Differentiation of Self Inventory

These are questions concerning your thoughts and feelings about yourself and relationships with others. Please read each statement carefully and decide
how much the statement is generally true of you on a 1 (nor at all) to 6 (very) scale. If you believe that an item does not pertain to you (e.g., you are not
currently married or in a committed relationship, or one or both of your parents are deceased), please answer the item according to your best guess about
what your thoughts and feelings would be in that situation. Be sure to answer every item and try to be as honest and accurate as possible in your responses.
Not at all Very true
true of me of me

1. People have remarked that I'm overly emotional. 1 2 3 4 5 6


2. I have difficulty expressing my feelings to people I care for. 1 2 3 4 5 6
3. I often feel inhibited around my family. I 2 3 4 5 6
4. I tend to remain pretty calm even under stress. 1 2 3 4 5 6
5. I'm likely to smooth over or settle conflicts between two people whom I care about. 1 2 3 4 5 6
6. When someone close to me disappoints me, I withdraw from him or her for a time. 1 2 3 4 5 6
7. No matter what happens in my life, I know that I'll never lose my sense of who I am. 1 2 3 4 5 6
8. I tend to distance myself when people get too close to me. 1 2 3 4 5 6
9. It has been said (or could be said) of me that I am still very attached to my parent(s). 1 2 3 4 5 6
10. I wish that I weren't so emotional. 1 2 3 4 5 6
11. I usually do not change my behavior simply to please another person. 1 2 3 4 5 6
12. My spouse or partner could not tolerate it if I were to express to him or her my true feelings
about some things. 1 2 3 4 5 6
13. Whenever there is a problem in my relationship, I'm anxious to get it settled right away. 1 2 3 4 5 6
14. At times my feelings get the best of me and I have trouble thinking clearly. 1 2 3 4 5 6
15. When I am having an argument with someone, I can separate my thoughts about the issue
from my feelings about the person. 1 2 3 4 5 6
16. I'm often uncomfortable when people get too close to me. 1 2 3 4 5 6
17. It's important for me to keep in touch with my parents regularly. 1 2 3 4 5 6
18. At times, I feel as if I'm riding an emotional roller coaster. 1 2 3 4 5 6
19. There's no point in getting upset about things I cannot change. 1 2 3 4 5 6
20. I'm concerned about losing my independence in intimate relationships. 1 2 3 4 5 6
21. I'm overly sensitive to criticism. 1 2 3 4 5 6
22. When my spouse or partner is away for too long, I feel like I am missing a part of me. 1 2 3 4 5 6
23. I'm fairly self-accepting. I 2 3 4 5 6
24. I often feel that my spouse or partner wants too much from me. 1 2 3 4 5 6
25. I try to live up to my parents' expectations. 1 2 3 4 5 6
26. If I have had an argument with my spouse or partner, I tend to think about it all day. 1 2 3 4 5 6
27. I am able to say no to odiers even when I feel pressured by them. 1 2 3 4 5 6
28. When one of my relationships becomes very intense, I feel the urge to run away from it, 1 2 3 4 5 6
29. Arguments with my parent(s) or sibling(s) can still make me feel awful. 1 2 3 4 5 6
30. If someone is upset with me, I can't seem to let it go easily. 1 2 3 4 5 6
31. I'm less concerned that others approve of me than I am about doing what I think is right. 1 2 3 4 5 6
32. I would never consider turning to any of my family members for emotional support. 1 2 3 4 5 6
33. Ifindmyselfthinkingalotaboutmy relationship with my spouse or partner. 1 2 3 4 5 6
34. I'm very sensitive to being hurt by others. 1 2 3 4 5 6
35. My self-esteem really depends on how others think of me. 1 2 3 4 5 6
36. When I'm with my spouse or partner, I often feel smothered. 1 2 3 4 5 6
37. I worry about people close to me getting sick, hurt, or upset. 1 2 3 4 5 6
38. I often wonder about the kind of impression I create. 1 2 3 4 5 6
39. When things go wrong, talking about them usually makes it worse. 1 2 3 4 5 6
40. I feel things more intensely than others do. 1 2 3 4 5 6
41. I usually do what I believe is right regardless of what others say. 1 2 3 4 5 6
42. Our relationship might be better if my spouse or partner would give me the space I need. 1 2 3 4 5 6
43. I tend to feel pretty stable under stress. 1 2 3 4 5 6

Differentiation of Self Inventory Subscale Composition (underlined means reverse scored):


Emotional Reactivity: J_, 6, _10,14, _18, 21, 26, 30, 34, 38, 40
I Position: 4, 7,11, 15, 19,23,27,31,35,41,43
Emotional Cutoff: 2, 3, 8, .12,16, 20,24, 28, 32,36,39,42
Fusion With Others: 5,9, 13, 17,22,25,29, 33, 37
Received September 22, 1997
Revision received February 16, 1998
Accepted February 16,1998