i haven't found any quizzes for this, so it's up for self-assessment. from the looks of it i'm stuck at stage 7 hoping to get into stage 8. these stages could also be used together with socionics or enneagram.


Presocial stage (E1)

The first stage is the pre-social and symbiotic stage. This is the stage that the ego is typically in during infancy. A baby has a very id-like ego that is very focused on gratifying immediate needs. They tend to be very attached to the primary caregiver, often the mother, and while they differentiate her from the rest of the world, they tend experience a cognitive confusion and emotional fusion between the caregiver and the self. But our understanding of this stage is more speculative than our understanding of other stages because pre-verbal infants we cannot use sentence completions and instead must rely on inferences based on observations.

Wikipedia: In earliest infancy, a baby cannot differentiate itself from the world and focuses only on gratifying immediate needs. Loevinger believes infants in their earliest state cannot have an ego because their thinking is autistic or delusional.[7] Their ego or 'thinking is characterised by primary process and delusional projection',[12] This part of the presocial stage does not last long as it quickly merges into the Symbiotic stage. The ego begins to develop and it is dominated by 'the process of differentiating self from non-self'[13] - from the World. The infant, once s/he 'has a grasp of the stability of the world of objects, the baby retains a symbiotic relation with his/[her] mother'[13] and begins the association of objects to themselves. For example, a baby will not fall asleep until they have their favourite toy or blankie in the crib with them.

Impulsive stage (E2)

The second stage is the impulsive stage. While this is the modal stage for toddlers, people can be in this stage for much longer, and in fact a small minority of people remain in this impulsive stage throughout their life. At this stage the ego continues to be focused on bodily feelings, basic impulses, and immediate needs. Not being particularly good at meeting these needs on their own, however, they are dependent and demanding. They are too immersed in the moment and in their own needs to think or care much about others; instead, they experience the world in egocentric terms, in terms of how things are affecting me. If something or someone meets my needs, it is good; if something or someone frustrates my needs, it is bad. Thus, their thinking is very simplistic and dichotomous.

Wikipedia: Here the child 'asserts his growing sense of self' and views the world in ego-centric terms.[7] At this stage 'the child is preoccupied with bodily impulses, particularly (age-appropriate) sexual and aggressive ones.[14] The child is too immersed in the moment and view the world solely in terms of how things affect them. Their impulses affirm their sense of self however are 'curbed by the environment'. When someone meets their needs they are considered 'good', and if they do not meet their needs they are considered bad - often resulting in impulsive retaliation such as s/he will run away or run home'.[15] Discipline is viewed by the child as restraints, and 'rewards and punishments' are seen as being "Nice to Me" or "Mean to Me". This is because the Child's 'needs and feelings are experienced mostly in bodily modes',[12] and 'the child's orientation at this stage is almost exclusively to the present rather than to past or future'.[16]

Self-Protective stage (E3)

The third stage is the self-protective stage. While this stage is particularly common in early and middle childhood, some individuals remain at this stage throughout their lives. The self-protective ego is more cognitively sophisticated than the impulsive ego, but they are still using their greater awareness of cause and effect, of rules and consequences, to get what they want from others. Therefore, they tend to be exploitive, manipulative, hedonistic, and opportunistic. Their goals is simply to “get what I want without getting caught”. Assuming others are like them, they are wary of what others want. They are also self-protective in the sense of externalizing blame--blaming others when anything goes wrong. Individuals who remain in the stage into adolescence and adulthood tend to, unless they are very smart, get into trouble; indeed, research using Loevinger’s sentence completion test shows that a high proportion of juvenile delinquents and inmates score at this self-protective stage.

Wikipedia: The "Self-Protective" stage represents 'the first step towards self-control of impulses....The Self-Protective person has the notion of blame, but he externalizes it to other people or to circumstances'.[17] At this level, the child 'craves a morally prescribed, rigidly enforced, unchanging order', and if maintained too long 'an older child or adult who remains here may become opportunistic, deceptive, and preoccupied with control...naive instrumental hedonism '.[18]

While a degree of conceptual cohesion has been reached, morality is essentially a matter of anticipating rewards and punishments, with the motto: "Don’t Get Caught".

Conformist stage (E4)

The fourth stage is the conformist stage. We tend to see this stage emerging at the time Freud said the superego first emerges, around five or six, and is the most common stage later in elementary school and in junior high school. However, a number of people remain at this stage throughout their lives. Conformist individuals are very invested in belonging to and obtaining the approval of important reference groups, such as peer groups. They tend to view and evaluate themselves and others in terms of externals—how one looks, the music that you listen to, the words or slang that you use, the roles people assume to show what group they are in and their status within the group. They view themselves and others in terms of stereotypes—broad generalizations about what members of certain groups are or are not like. While from the outside such individuals may seem superficial or phony, they do not experience it that way because this group self is their real self. More generally, they tend to view the world in simple, conventional, rule-bound and moralistic ways. What is right and wrong is clear to them—namely, what their group thinks is right or wrong. Their feelings also tend to be simple and rule-governed, in the sense that there are some situations in which one feels happy, and other situations in which one feels sad. While Loevinger does try to avoid describing some stages as better than others, she does use the somewhat pejorative terms "banal" and “clichéd” to describe the conformist understanding of feelings. Interestingly, both feelings of happiness and feelings of shame tend to peak at this stage. Shame peaks because they are so concerned about approval from their group; consequently, the threat of shame is a powerful tool that groups can use to control individuals at this stage. On the other hand, as long as their place in the group is not threatened, conformist egos are quite happy, even happier than egos at the later stages, where right and wrong can never again be so simple and clear.

Wikipedia: 'Most children around school age...progress to the next stage, conformity'.[19] Persons begin to view themselves and other as conforming to socially approved codes or norms.[20] Teaching education as adult development. Theory into Practice, 17(3), p. 231 Loevinger describes this stage of having 'the greatest cognitive simplicity. There is a right way and a wrong way and it is the same for everyone...or broad classes of people.[21] One example of groups conforming together at this age is by gender—boys and girls. Here persons are very much invested in belonging to and obtaining the approval of groups.[22] Behaviour is judged externally, not by intentions, and this concept of 'belonging to the group (family or peers) is most valued'.[23] 'the child starts to identify his welfare with that of the group', though for the stage 'to be consolidated, there must be a strong element of trust'.[17] An ability to take in rules of the group appears, and another's disapproval becomes a sanction, not only fear of punishment. However rules and norms are not yet distinguished.

'While the Conformist likes and trusts other people within his own group, he may define that group narrowly and reject any or all outgroups', and stereotypes roles on the principle of ' social desirability: people are what they ought to be'.[22] Behaviour is judged externally, not by intentions, and the concept of 'belonging to the group (family or peers) is most valued'.[23]

Self-aware stage (E5)

The fifth stage is the self-aware stage. This stage is the most common stage among adults in the United States. The self-aware ego shows an increased but still limited awareness deeper issues and the inner lives of themselves and others. The being to wonder what do I think as opposed to what my parents and peers think about such issues as God and religion, morality, mortality, love and relationships. They tend to not be at the point where they reach much resolution on these issues, but they are thinking about them. They are also more aware that they and others have unique feelings and motives, different from those that might be prescribed by the feeling rules they have learned from movies and books and other people. They recognize that just because one is part of the group does not mean that one always feels or thinks the same as the other group members and that’s true for other people in other groups as well. In short, they are appreciating themselves and others as unique. Increasing awareness of one’s unique feelings and motives creates tension between the “real me” and the “expected me”, which can lead to increased conflicts with family and peers. Finally, this ability to wonder whether your family or peers are right about what is right and wrong, to question whether you have been right about what is right and wrong, can lead to increased self-criticism.

Wikipedia: Loevinger considered the Self-Aware (also known as 'Conscientious-Conformist') Transitional Stage to be 'model for adults in our society',[24] and thought that few pass the stage before at least the age of twenty-five.

The stage is largely characterized by two characteristics: 'an increase in self-awareness and the capacity to imagine multiple possibilities in situations'...[25] [was] a stable position in mature life', one marked by the development of 'rudimentary self-awareness and self-criticism': however the closeness of the self to norms and expectations 'reveal the transitional nature of these conceptions, midway between the group stereotypes of the Conformist and the appreciation for individual differences at higher levels'.[26] Loevinger also considered the level to produce 'a deepened interest in interpersonal relations'.[27]

Conscientious stage (E6)

At the sixth stage, the conscientious stage, this tendency towards self-evaluation and self-criticism continues. The conscientious ego values responsibility, achievement and the pursuit of high ideals and long-term goals. Morality is based on personally-evaluated principles, and behavior is guided by self-evaluated standards. Consequently, violating one’s standards induces guilt. This differs from the conformist stage where the tendency is to feel shame. Shame arises from not meeting the others’ expectations; guilt arises from not meeting one’s own expectations. Greater self-reflection leads to greater conceptual complexity; experiencing the self and the world in more complex ways; and this includes experiencing one’s own feelings and motives in more accurate and differentiated ways and expressing them in more unique and personal terms. Finally, with increasing awareness of the depth and uniqueness of others’ feelings and motives as well comes increasing concern with mutuality and empathy in relationships.

Before going on I should mention that the preceding three stages—the conformist, self-aware, and conscientious stages—are the most common for adults in the United States, and there are fewer and fewer people at the stages we are about to examine. Moreover, Loevinger suggested that we all have a hard time understanding stages that are more than one level above our own, so for many of us who are at the middle stages it can be hard to fully grasp the highest stages.

Wikipedia: At progression to 'the conscientious stage...individuals at this level, and even more often at higher levels, refer spontaneously to psychological development'.[28]

By this stage, 'the internalisation of rules is completed', although at the same time 'exceptions and contingencies are recognised'.[29] Goals and ideals are acknowledged, and there is a new sense of responsibility, with guilt triggered by hurting another, rather than by breaking rules. 'The tendency to look at things in a broader social context' was offset by a self seen as apart from the group, but also from the other's point of view; as a result 'descriptions of people are more realistic...[with] more complexities'.[30] Standards are self-chosen, and distinguished from manners, just as people are seen in terms of their motives and not just their actions.

The Conscientious subject 'sees life as presenting choices; [s]he holds the origin of his own destiny...aspires to achievement, ad astra per aspera '[31] but by his or her own standards.

Individualistic stage (E7)

At the seventh stage, the individualistic stage, the focus on relationships increases, and although achievement is still valued, relationships tend to be more valued even more. The individualistic ego shows a broad-minded tolerance of and respect for the autonomy of both the self and others. But a wish gives others the autonomy to be who they really are can conflict with needs for connection and intimacy. The heightened sense of individuality and self-understanding can lead to vivid and unique ways of expressing the self as well as to an awareness of inner conflicts and personal paradoxes. But this is an incipient awareness of conflicting wishes and thoughts and feelings—for closeness and distance, for achievement and acceptance, and so on—but there is unlikely to yet be any resolution or integration of these inner conflicts.

Wikipedia: During this stage persons demonstrate both a respect for individuality and interpersonal ties.[32] Loevinger explains'To proceed beyond the Conscientious Stage a person must become more tolerant of himself and of others...out of the recognition of individual differences and of complexities of circumstances'[33] developed at the previous level. The individualistic ego shows a broad-minded tolerance of and respect for the autonomy of both self and others. With a new distancing from role identities, 'moralism begins to be replaced by an awareness of inner conflict', while the new stage is also 'marked by a heightened sense of individuality and a concern for emotional dependence'.[33] Subjective experience is opposed to objective reality, inner reality to outward appearance; and 'vivid and personal versions of ideas presented as cliches at lower levels'[34] may emerge.

A growing concern for psychological causality and development will typically go hand in hand with 'greater complexity in conceptions of interpersonal interaction'.[34]

Autonomous stage (E8)

At stage eight, the autonomous stage, there is increasing respect for one’s own and others’ autonomy. The autonomous ego cherishes individuality and uniqueness and self-actualization; individuals’ unique and unexpected paths are a source of joy. And these independent paths are no longer seen in opposition to depending on each other; rather relationships are appreciated as an interdependent system of mutual support; in other words, it takes a village to raise and sustain an autonomous ego. There is also greater tolerance of ambiguity. In particular, conflicts—both inner conflicts and conflicts between people—are appreciated as inevitable expressions of the fluid and multifaceted nature of people and of life in general; and accepted as such, they are more easier faced and coped with. Finally, the heightened and acute awareness of one’s own inner space is manifest in vivid ways of articulating feelings.

Wikipedia: Loevinger termed the next stage "autonomous" 'because it is marked by the freeing of the person from oppressive demands of conscience in the preceding stage'.[35] People at this stage are "synthesizers" and are able to conceptually integrate ideas.[36] The autonomous person also 'recognizes the limitations to autonomy, that emotional interdependence is inevitable'.[35] The stage might also see a 'confrontation with the limitations of abilities and roles as part of deepening self-acceptance'.[37]

'Self-fulfillment becomes a frequent goal, partly supplanting achievement', while there may well be a wider 'capacity to acknowledge and to cope with inner conflicts',[35] such as between needs and duties.

'A high toleration for ambiguity...[and ] conceptual complexity'[35] - the capacity to embrace Polarity, Complexity, Multiple Facets, and to integrate ideas - is a further feature of the Autonomous Stage, as too is the expression of 'respect for other people's need for autonomy in clear terms'.[38]

Integrated stage (E9)

At the final stage, the integrated stage, the ego shows wisdom, broad empathy towards oneself and others, and a capacity to not just be aware inner conflicts like the individualistic ego or tolerate inner conflicts like the autonomous ego, but reconcile a number or inner conflicts and make peace with those issues that will remain unsolvable and those experiences that will remain unattainable. The integrated ego finally has a full sense of identity, of what it is, and at this stage it is seeking to understand and actualize my own potentials and to achieve integration of all those multi-faceted aspects of myself that have become increasing vivid as I’ve moved through the preceding three stages. In Loevinger’s research this highest stage is reached by less than 1% of adults in the United States.

Wikipedia: According to Loevinger, this is a rare stage to attain. At the integrated stage, 'learning is understood as unavoidable...the unattainable is renounced'.[37] The ego shows wisdom, broad empathy towards oneself and others, and a capacity to not just be aware of inner conflicts like the individualistic ego or tolerate inner conflicts like the autonomous ego, but reconcile and make peace with those issues.[39] This 'Reconciling inner conflicts...cherishing of individuality'[40] are key elements of its Self-Actualizing nature, along with a fully worked-out identity which includes 'reconciliation to one's destiny'.[41]

As differentiation increases, the model of ego development has found broader acceptance amongst international researchers. Therefore a new stage E10 has been mentioned for "Ich-Entwicklung", the German equivalent of Loevinger´s stages.