Introduction: Empirical research in defense mechanisms - a concept that stem from the work of Sigmund and Anna Freud and gave rise to a number of thematic approaches - dates back to the midth century. From the psychometric measure instruments developed since that time, the present investigation was aimed to assess the short form of Defense Style Questionnaire that can be efficiently applied in clinical practice and that was supposed to be used as the sixth diagnostic factor of the new version of DSM. A multi-level validity analysis of DSQ was carried out. Methods: We applied trait assessing measures for anxiety, avoidant behavior, schizotypal traits and personality disorder diagnostic measures developed for DSM To evaluate discriminant validity we applied instruments that assess the stability of self-esteem and the state of self and that can measure the clarity of self-representations. Results: Based on the applied questionnaires, it was revealed that its inner consistency and validity measures are adequate.
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Although commonly used, the DSQ has not been validated in early adolescent populations. Participants completed the Greek version of DSQ, adapted for use by this particular age group as well as measures in order to examine its convergent and discriminant validity.
The findings support a four-factor solution as the most adequate for our data. Further, it was found that defense mechanisms are related to perceived parental acceptance and rejection. Our results indicate that the DSQ is appropriate for use in late childhood.
Anna Freud , p. Up to date, the concept dominates mainly in psychopathology and psychiatric research on adults. The exploration of the psychometric properties of the relevant scales in young age samples is limited and mainly reported in the discrimination between clinical and non-clinical samples.
The DSQ discriminated between psychiatric patients and normal subjects, with patients reporting more immature defense mechanisms. This version was further modified to a short item questionnaire corresponding to 20 defense mechanisms which were organized into three second order factors: Mature, Neurotic, Immature. Cramer suggests that: a different defense mechanisms predominate at different points in the development and b each defense mechanism has its own developmental history, and that each defense has its own time of emerging predominance, which is followed by the decline of that defense at subsequent developmental periods.
She identified significant differences in denial, projection and identification between age 11 and age Although this work has indicated that defense mechanisms protect children from psychological distress, most of the studies have focused on late adolescents-emerging adults.
Indeed, a great number of recent studies focus either on University students e. Research has indicated that defense styles measured by the DSQ are associated with psychological adjustment and psychopathology Pour et al. Studies exploring the factor structure of DSQ present altered versions revealing, three Muris et al.
However, none of these versions has been used widely. Bond suggests personal communication the use of the DSQ in late childhood and adolescence simply pointing out the need for some items to be appropriately reworded. The psychometric properties of the DSQ have not been widely explored in younger populations, apart from a fine-grained study carried out by Ruuttu and colleagues In a sample of adolescent psychiatric outpatients aged years and age-matched and gender-matched controls they yielded four factors corresponding to four defense styles: mature, neurotic, image-distorting and immature, and suggested the DSQ as a reliable and valid instrument for this age group.
Given that previous research has confirmed that defense mechanisms are associated with individual characteristics and psychological adjustment, perceived parenting as well as experiences with bullying and victimization and perceived psychological well being, these constructs have also been used in the present study to investigate the convergent and divergent validity of the DSQ.
Fonagy links defensive patterns of behavior with bullying, making links to attachment theory and Youell fits bullying into the psychological account of splitting and projection. Lastly, studies have linked immature defense mechanisms with the development of various psychological difficulties such as anxiety and depression Blaya et al.
The shortage of studies using the DSQ in early adolescents indicate the need for further exploration of the appropriateness of the use of DSQ for this age group Cramer, However, no study has explored the psychometric properties of the DSQ in younger populations i. The aim of the present study is to explore a the factorial structure of DSQ b to identify the internal consistency of the factors sub-scales emerged from the exploration of the factor structure of the questionnaire, as well as its convergent validity and c to test whether the defensive styles emerged from the factor analysis could differentiate individuals according to their gender and age as well as to the extent they get involved in bullying and victimization and the level of their self-reported well-being.
Two hundred and sixty-five children and early adolescents took part in this study, of which The sample includes The students come from different schools of Athens, Crete and Ioannina, Greece.
DSQ comprises of 40 items in a 9-point Likert format that derive scores for 20 defense mechanisms, two items for each. These mechanisms are organized in four sub-factors Immature, Mature, Image-distorting and Neurotic , often referred to as defense styles. Scores for defense mechanisms and defense styles are formed by averaging the ratings for relevant items. Higher scores in these scales indicate higher perceived parental acceptance.
The Psychological Well-Being scale PWB consists of eight items describing important aspects of human functioning ranging from positive relationships, to feelings of competence, to having meaning and purpose in life. High scores signify that respondents view themselves in very positive terms in diverse areas of functioning. Issues of anonymity and confidentiality were particularly highlighted, along with the voluntary participation in the study.
Permission to conduct the research was granted by the Greek Ministry of Education. There was no payment or other incentive to participate in the study. After the completion of the questionnaires, children were debriefed and thanked for their participation. The data were collected during the spring semester. We wanted to test a previous theoretical model of latent factors underlying the variables observed.
We presumed correlated latent factors. Therefore, a geomin oblique instead of a quartimax orthogonal rotation criterion was chosen. Regarding the examination of other psychometric characteristics, we used correlations coefficient to test the DSQ internal consistency. Geomin oblique rotation was employed.
The goal was to see how the 20 individual defenses loaded onto factors, commonly referred to as defense styles. To determine the number of factors, we examined the goodness of fit for each proposed model based on criteria of goodness of fit, interpretability of the solution, and strength of parameter estimators. The findings supported a four-factor solution as most adequate for our data Table 1.
Second, we examined the eigenvalues. The Kaiser criterion, which recommends that the number of factors be equivalent to the number of eigenvalues greater than 1, suggested five factors. Eigenvalues were 4. Next, we examined the scree plot as proposed by Cattell as a graphical method for determining the number of factors. Cattell recommended retaining all eigenvalues in the sharp descent before the point at which the plot begins to level off.
The plot suggested that a model with four factor solution was most appropriate for consideration. Lastly, we considered the interpretability of the results by examining the factor pattern loadings Table 2.
In parentheses we present the cross-loadings and in italics are the retained loadings on Factors 1 and 2. In bold we present meaningful factor loadings i. Some defenses appeared to have double loadings on one or two factors i. On the basis of those criteria, two defenses were excluded; sublimation mature factor , and realization mature factor had loadings on different factors than the original and it was difficult to interpret them. However, we retained two defenses: Suppression mature , and autistic-fantasy immature.
The first had a double loading on two factors with loadings of. The second defense style had also a cross-loading more than. Table 4 presents the correlation coefficients between each of the four DSQ defense styles. The inter-correlations range from. The results in Table 4 show that the Mature factor was positively associated with Psychological Well-being whereas the Neurotic factor was positively associated with paternal acceptance and Psychological Well-being.
Finally, the Immature factor was negatively associated with both paternal and maternal acceptance and with Psychological well being. We also compared use of defenses between genders; girls reported less use of mature and image-distorting styles than did boys. On the individual defenses, girls reported more use of reaction formation, but less anticipation, denial, and dissociation. Further, we compared the use of defenses between participants of the 5 th and the 6 th grade.
We found that 5 th graders scored higher in the Neurotic factor and less use in the Immature factor. With regards to specific defenses, it was found that 5 th graders scored higher in anticipation, pseudoaltruism and idealization, whereas 6 th graders scored higher in passive aggression, displacement, dissociation, splitting and rationalization. As discriminant validity indicates also the ability of a scale to distinguish different groups of individuals, we performed three separate logistic regression analyses see Table 5 to investigate whether individual scores in the four Defense Styles Immature, Mature, Image-distorting and Neurotic could predict: a the levels of self-reported psychological well-being, b the participation in bullying behaviours and c the experience of victimization.
In the first analysis, it was found that Immature, Mature, Image-distorting and Neurotic factors were entered as predictor variables and Psychological Well-being as predicting variable.
Prediction was good, with Table 5 shows the regression coefficient, Wald statistic, and odds ratio for each of the three predictors. This finding implies that the odds ratios of these predictors. In the second analysis, we entered again the Immature, Mature, Image-distorting and Neurotic factors as predictor variables and Bullying as predicting variable. This finding implies that the odds ratios of these predictors 1.
Lastly, in the third analysis, we entered again the four DSQ factors as predictor variables and Victimization as predicting variable. This instrument which was initially developed for adults seems, with minor phrasing changes, to be able to provide researchers and clinicians with valid information about children emotional maturity-immaturity styles, shedding light on their psychological adjustment.
To our knowledge, this is the first study exploring the psychometric properties of the DSQ in an early-aged sample. The present study failed to support the three factor solution suggested in the original study Andrews et al. The four factor structure comes out well, in spite of cross-loadings. The first factor consisted of three mature defenses: suppression, humor, anticipation often employed to reduce anxiety and distress. Two defenses, sublimation and rationalization, failed to contribute to this factor.
Not having reached abstract thinking at this particular age possibly restricts the development of complex defense mechanisms. The second factor consists of immature defenses: projection, passive aggression, autistic fantasy, somatisation, displacement, and acting out. This factor involves maladaptive defense mechanisms, reported also by Ruuttu et al.
Youell, Moreover, in consistency with previous studies e. Andrews et al. This factor differentiates from the third one, image-distorting, although they both depict immature personality patterns, in terms of action-orientation and image-orientation, respectively. The third factor, also in line with Ruuttu et al.
It comprises denial, dissociation, devaluation, isolation and splitting. The fourth factor comprises neurotic defenses indicating an intermediate defense style that appears more private comparing to immature action-oriented and image-distorting image oriented defenses. Possibly, this is the reason of no cross-loadings except the reaction formation in this factor. The defense mechanisms loading on this factor are: reaction formation, undoing, idealization, pseudo-altruism.
These are in line with those reported in the original study Andrews et al. Perhaps, the lower alpha coefficients are affected by the fewer items comprising these two styles Zeigler-Hill et al.
[Defense Style Questionnaire (DSQ-40): Factors, Validity and Reliability]
Defense styles are empirically validated clusters of psychological defense mechanisms, measured with the Defense Style Questionnaire DSQ. The DSQ is a paper-pen, self-report questionnaire, with two versions containing either 88 or 40 items. Each item is a statement that the subject scores according to the degree of agreement to its content on a Likert-type interval scale, with scores ranging from one total disagreement to nine full agreement. Although defenses have been defined and differentiated for some time, their unconscious nature made their empirical measurement difficult.
Defense Style Questionnaire
Although commonly used, the DSQ has not been validated in early adolescent populations. Participants completed the Greek version of DSQ, adapted for use by this particular age group as well as measures in order to examine its convergent and discriminant validity. The findings support a four-factor solution as the most adequate for our data. Further, it was found that defense mechanisms are related to perceived parental acceptance and rejection.