The Being and Doing Identity Measure: Development and Psychometric Evaluation
Background and Purpose: In Western culture, identity is consistent with values of individualism, control, and activity – a “doing” identity that links self-worth to striving and achievement. Other cultures, however, also conceptualize “being” as important to one's identity - one's awareness and attention to present moment experience, a relational sense of self, and acceptance of life's uncertainties. When one's identity is challenged, as in the case of those with life-threatening illness, Western measures are limited and do not capture elements of identity that may be an important focus for intervention, particularly regarding existential distress and quality of life issues. This paper describes the development of the Being and Doing Identify Measure (BDIM), designed to remediate this problem by measuring both elements of identity as well as bringing attention to an important cultural and existential issue for practitioners and researchers.
Method: Existential concepts, literature review, and identity theory from a symbolic interactionist perspective informed item development. Once item development was complete, a two stage process was employed to determine the final scale. First, a content validation study was undertaken to delimit the initial item pool. An expert panel assessed face and content validity of the initial 96 items, which was reduced to 79 based on their feedback. Next, data were collected from students (n = 295) at a large public southeastern university. The instrument package included the BDIM, a standardized scale, and a demographic questionnaire. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was employed to determine the factor structure of the BDIM.
Results: Initial item evaluation revealed 15 items with unacceptable skew or kurtosis (> 2.0) or low inter-item correlations (< .20). Bartlett's Test of Sphericity was significant and the Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin was good (.821). EFA results indicated a three factor solution for each scale (Being and Doing). The final instrument contains 25 items with Cronbach's alphas for each subscale ranging from adequate to good for a newly developed instrument. The Doing subscales measured: striving for achievement (α =.855 ), self-worth tied to accomplishments(α =.868 ), and orientation away from acceptance of self(α = .769). The Being subscales measured: sense of self in relation to others (α =.692), ability to acknowledge and accept unknown aspects of experience (α =.718), and present moment awareness and attention to the environment (α =.562). Evidence of “being” and “doing” convergent validity was established through significant positive correlations with a standardized instrument and single item indicators respectively. Both scales also demonstrated preliminary evidence of discriminant construct validity and concurrent validity.
Implications/Conclusions: This preliminary study supports the BDIM as a measure of identity for use by researchers and clinicians. By incorporating Eastern concepts of identity with a Western approach, the existential suffering that often accompanies life crises, such as serious life-limiting illness, can be more fully understood and interventions created to support identity adaptation and renegotiation. Further scale development will seek to validate the BDIM with persons living with chronic illness and advanced disease.