Styles of psychological defense: psychosocial adjustment analysis

Rūta Pukinskaitė, Oksana Maskalkova


The relation between the use of defense mechanisms and psychological functioning was examined in 154 adults (52 male and 102 female). The study used DSQ (Bond et al., 1983), ASEBA/ASR (Achenbach & Rescorla, 2003) and RSE (Rosenberg, 1965).
The results of our study support the hypothesis that adaptive defense style is associated with adult adaptive functioning. Higher scores in good relations with spouse/partner and success at work correlate with higher ratings in level of adaptive defense style. There is a relationship between adult use of maladaptive action defenses and low job satisfaction. Correlation analysis indicates that adults who rely on maladaptive action or image-distorting defenses report higher levels of self-rated internalizing, externalizing behavior problems, and total problems (ASR). Adults who use the self-sacrificing defense style exhibit a higher level of internalizing symptoms (anxiety, depressivity, somatic complaints) and total problems. Results of the present study indicate that higher levels of maladaptive action and self-sacrificing defense style are associated with lower self-esteem. Women more often then men use the self-sacrificing defense style. There are also differences in adaptive defense style depending on adult marital status and level of education.


defense style; psychosocial adjustment; adaptive behaviour; self-esteem

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