Before I write about the relation between Kegan's Subject-Object Interview and the LSUA (the Lectical Self-Understanding Assessment), I'd like to explain some differences between these assessments. First, the SOI is both an interview and an assessment system. It was developed by studying the interviews of a small sample of respondents (Does anyone know how many?) who were interviewed on several occasions over the course of several years (Again, does anyone know how many or how often?). The level definitions and the scoring criteria in the SOI are tied to the subject matter of the interviews in the original sample (construction sample). For this reason, the SOI is called a domain-specific assessment. Researchers would say that the levels were defined by "bootstrapping" from the longitudinal data. Critiques of this kind of assessment point to bias in their level definitions (due to their small and culturally narrow construction samples), the related conflation (confusion) of particular conceptual content with developmental levels, and a weak articulation of the lowest levels, which are not based on direct empirical evidence from appropriate-aged respondents.
With respect to the LSUA, I want to clarify that it is scored with the Lectical Assessment System (LAS), a content-independent developmental scoring system that was created, in part, by identifying the dimension that underlies all longitudinally bootstrapped developmental assessment systems*. The SOI was one of the assessment systems I studied on the way to developing the LAS. Consequently, if the LAS does what it is supposed to do, it should capture the developmental dimension that underlies Kegan's system even better than his scoring system, because the LAS is a second generation developmental scoring system that is not restrained by a content-driven scoring process (Dawson, 2002; Dawson, Xie, & Wilson, 2003: There is much written about this in our published work, available on our web site.)
What is the relation between the LSUA and the Subject-Object Interview?
This is a difficult question to answer, partly because there is no research that directly compares the SOI and the LSUA. However, because the LAS is a domain independent scoring system that can be used to score any text that includes judgments and justifications, I have used it to score the SOI scoring manual. The developmental sequence for SOI levels 3 to 5 corresponds well to the dimension captured by the LAS, and levels 3-5 correspond roughly with Lectical Levels 10-12. However, Kegan's lower levels do not match up as well, possibly because his construction sample (the sample used to define his levels), as far as we can determine, did not include young children. (Kegan's original research was never published in a form that would allow us to evaluate the approach he took to defining his levels or the reliability and validity of the SOI. All we can locate are a few very small studies of inter-rater reliability, most of which are unpublished [Kegan, 2002].)
Comparisons of the Subject-Object Interview with other developmental assessment systems
There is some research comparing the SOI with other developmental assessment systems. In general, this research finds that the SOI and these other systems are likely to tap the same developmental dimension (see Pratt, et. al., 1991).
Ideally, we would like to conduct a direct comparison of the LAS and the scoring system Kegan developed to score the SOI, as we have done with other developmental assessment systems. (We are working with a graduate student who is planning do do this kind of comparison.) In the mean time, we can point to comparisons between the LAS and several other developmental assessment systems (Kohlberg, Armon, Kitchener & King, Perry) that were developed using methods similar to those used by Kegan, and have routinely found strong correlations (above .85) between these scoring systems and the LAS, especially when they are used to score the same material (Dawson, 2000, 2001 2002a, 2004; Dawson, Xie, & Wilson, 2003 ).
Finally, some of Kegan's level definitions are almost identical to those of Kohlberg and Selman. In fact, I would argue that they are primarily an extension of Selman's original work on socio-moral perspective, which has informed most domain-based developmental assessment systems (including all of the systems mentioned here) since it was introduced in the 1960's (and was a great help to me when I was developing the LAS).
*The claim that there is a single developmental dimension that underlies these systems is NOT the same thing as a claim that an individual will be at the same level in different knowledge/skill areas.
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