Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication (MA)

Degree Level





Myria Allen

Committee Member

Matthew Spialek

Second Committee Member

Lindsey Aloia


Constructive Developmental Theory, self-report instrument, professional development, leadership, conflict communication, perspective-taking


Much has been learned and theorized about adult development and its importance in leadership effectiveness and professional development interventions thanks to the framework proposed by Kegan’s Constructive Developmental Theory (CDT). However, research and practice in this area has been hindered by the difficulty of utilizing the current method for assessing constructive developmental Level, the Subject-Object Interview. The present study addresses this problem through the development and preliminary validation of a new self-report instrument that measures the Levels of development described in Kegan’s CDT. This new measure, the Constructive Developmental Self-Report (CDSR), was constructed through theoretical-based item generation that utilized both inductive and deductive methods. Self-report items were generated by extracting the subject-object structure from coded Subject-Object Interview excerpts. An expert review then confirmed a version of the CDSR to be used in measurement validation exercises. Preliminary validity was assessed through testing two sets of hypotheses that, if supported, provide concurrent validity for the CDSR. The study hypothesized (a) that different Levels of constructive developmental maturity (as measured by the CDSR) will predict preferences for conflict communication strategies, and (b) that increased perspective-taking ability positively relates to constructive developmental Level. A targeted sample of 220 employed adults in management/supervisory positions within a wide age range from 21 to 70 responded to a survey that included the CDSR, conflict communication, and perspective-taking scales. Results yielded complex findings that, after careful interpretation, provide nuanced relationships between Levels of development and the conflict communication and perspective-taking scales. Consequently, evidence was provided for the preliminary concurrent validity of the CDSR. The CDSR was deemed a promising new assessment of constructive developmental Level that can be used to increase the frequency and sample sizes of CDT research. Ideally, this instrument will ultimately allow for greater dissemination of professional development resources that address vertical development. Finally, this study provides a fresh tool to be used within life span communication research. Future researchers are encouraged to conduct additional validation studies that can refine the CDSR and cement its place as a useful tool for adult development research.