Title

Women in Japan and the USA: Identity status and its relationship to depression

Date of Completion

January 1998

Keywords

Psychology, Social|Women's Studies|Education, Guidance and Counseling|Psychology, Clinical|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

The rate of depression is twice as high for women as for men in many societies. The literature supports the fact that this is specifically the case in the USA and Japan (Culbertson, 1997; Jack, 1991; Klerman & Weissman, 1985a, 1985b; Mann, 1992; McGrath, Keita, Strickland, & Russo, 1990; Saito & Hada, 1996; Silversterin & Perlick, 1995). There are several hypotheses in the literature regarding this finding. One of the variables that appears to have significant impact on women's mental health is the psychosocial environment that they live in and its effect on their identity. However, prior research provided information that did not link psychological states such as depression to identity status. In addition, only a limited number of empirical investigations of identity issues in other cultural contexts, different age groups, or across genders have been conducted. This study aims to fill a gap in the research on identity issues by taking into consideration different cultural contexts and gender roles. Specifically, the relationships between identity status and depression level among women in Japan and the USA were examined. A comparison of single and married Japanese and Euro-American women who ranged in age from late adulthood to middle age was investigated, using Marcia's (1966) concept of identity status. ^ Findings revealed that more Euro-American women were in the Identity Achievement status than Japanese women. More Japanese women were in the Moratorium, Foreclosure, and Diffusion statuses than Euro-American women. In both cultures, more married women were in the Foreclosure status than single women. ^ Results also indicated that there was a negative relationship between Identity Achievement status and depression level for single and married Japanese women. There was a positive relationship between Moratorium status and depression level for single Japanese women. There was a positive relationship between Foreclosure status to depression level for single Japanese women. There was a positive relationship between Diffusion status and depression level for married Euro-American women. Although there were significant relationships between identity status and depression level, mean scores of depression levels for each group in the sample, single Japanese, married Japanese, single Euro-American, and Married Euro-American, did not fall within the range for clinical depression. However, the mean score of depression level for single Japanese women approached “neurosis” (e.g., mild depression) level. ^ These findings suggest that for women from late adulthood to middle age, psychosocial factors (i.e., culture and marital status) influence their identity development. There is a link between women's identity development and psychological state. ^