LEVEL OF DOGMATISM, CONCRETENESS - ABSTRACTNESS AND CONCEPTUAL COMPLEXITY AMONG SEMINARIANS AND NON-SEMINARIANS

CORNELIUS JOSEPH MAHONEY, Fordham University

Abstract

The study sought to answer several questions. Would the individual who exercises his religiosity be more dogmatic, more concrete, and at a lower conceptual level in his overall cognitive style? Since the individual strives toward maintenance of consistency among his cognitive elements, would the responses to statements on relevant issues of Church dogma be more absolute, more polarized among the sample of seminarians than among non-seminarians? When asked to produce statements that are supposed to range from very pro- to very anti-Church teaching on the relevant issues, would there be a larger proportion of items favorable to Church teaching and consistent with their own beliefs among the sample of seminarians as compared with the non-seminarians?^ The study employed 88 college students from a Catholic college. The subjects were subdivided into two groups according to whether they were seminary college students (n=43) or non-seminarian (n=45).^ A review of the related literature was conducted which included the theories of Rokeach, Harvey, Hunt and Schroder. An extensive review was included of Harvey, Hunt and Schroder's conceptual systems as a model for understanding an individual's cognitive abstractness or concreteness. Dogmatism in the present study was assessed by Rokeach's Dogmatism Scale (Form E), abstractness-concreteness by Harvey, Hunt and Schroder's "This I Believe" Test (TIB) and, finally, conceptual level was assessed by Hunt's "Paragraph Completion Test" (PCT).^ The statistical procedures employed included: (a)Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients to examine the relationships between all variables; (b)a multiple regression analysis was used to investigate the contribution of the predictor variables (D Scale, TIB, PCT) and all other variables to performance on the Inventory of Religious Beliefs (IRB); (c)an analysis of variance was computed to test if statistically significant differences existed among the means on the IRB, Dogmatism Scale, PCT, and Arguments "Pro" and "Con" by the independent variables, seminarians/non-seminarians, year of college, and TIB; (d)a t test was computed to examine the relationship between the mean scores of the public and parochial students (high school and elementary school) on the IRB; (e)the x('2) statistic was used to test for significant difference between the distribution of seminarians and non-seminarians in TIB performance. The same procedure was used to determine if there were significant differences between seminarians and non-seminarians in their use of extreme responses.^ The study led to the following conclusions: (a)that there was a significant difference between seminarians and non-seminarians in concreteness-abstractness; (b)that the more concrete individual scored higher on a measure of religious belief (IRB); (c)that the seminarians will choose more polarized positions in response to a survey of religious belief; (d)that concreteness of conceptual functioning disposed the seminarians toward a low tolerand of dissonance and to resolve cognitive inconsistency in ways differing from more abstract functioning; (e)that vocational choice, more than cognitive measures, was the best predictor of how the college student maintained his religious beliefs.^ The researcher recommended that the PCT, which has been validated primarily with a juvenile population, be revised and validated with an adult population. It was also recommended that an instrument other than the IRB be used, an instrument which would be more broadly based on socio-political statements. Finally, it was recommended that future studies include "non-test" aspects of a person's functioning rather than relying solely on attitudinal measures. ^

Subject Area

School counseling

Recommended Citation

MAHONEY, CORNELIUS JOSEPH, "LEVEL OF DOGMATISM, CONCRETENESS - ABSTRACTNESS AND CONCEPTUAL COMPLEXITY AMONG SEMINARIANS AND NON-SEMINARIANS" (1981). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8119779.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8119779

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