FIXITY-MOBILITY IN COGNITIVE STYLE AND EGO DEVELOPMENT

MARTHALEE THOMPSON BROD, Fordham University

Abstract

This study explored fixity-mobility (F-M) in the field-dependent (FD) and field independent (FI) cognitive styles, as defined in Witkin and Goodenough's 1981 revised theory, and F-M's relationship to Loevinger's (1976) stages of ego development. It was hypothesized that the FD and FI cognitive styles would be fixed (set) or mobile (flexible) with progression on the ego maturity continuum. Greater (FI) or lesser (FD) analytic ability and the tendency toward an interpersonal (FD) or an impersonal social orientation (FI) characterized the fixed FD-FI styles. The mobile cognitive style was both highly analytic and highly interpersonal.^ Witkin's Group Embedded Figures Test (GEFT) and Schutz's Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation-B (FIRO-B) assessed the predictor variables and Loevinger's Sentence Completion Test (SCT) provided the criterion measure. Sex and age were used as supplemental predictor variables.^ The 62 women and 52 men in the sample (N = 114) were selected from varied sources, spanned a wide age range (20-54 years), and were well-educated (77 college graduates).^ Data were analyzed by computing two multiple regression equations, and two discriminant function analyses. SPSS computer programs were used in the calculations.^ A product-moment correlation (r = .06) showed little relation between interpersonal style (FIRO) and analytic ability (GEFT). The first stepwise regression analysis entered FIRO (F = 34.91, p < .001) and GEFT (F = 32.69, p<.001) scores, and showed a significant association between F-M and ego development level. The second regression analysis entered a FIRO(,1)GEFT2 interaction variable (F = 79.69, p < .0001) and age (F = 65.95, p < .001), and revealed that the interaction of analytic ability and interpersonal orientation was more related to level of ego maturity than the FIRO and GEFT, entered separately. The significant relationship of age to ego level was noted.^ The discriminant analyses determined the ability of the FIRO, GEFT and age to separate and predict membership into levels of ego development. The significant functions (p. < .0001) and classification tables suggested the following: (a) low ego groups were undifferentiated as to the F-M construct; (b) fixity appeared at mid-ranges of ego development; (c) a tendency toward mobility was found at ego level I-4/5, and peaked at I-5/I-6, (d) age significantly affected accuracy of ego group classifications, particularly at upper ego levels; (e) sex was not a significant contributor in classifying ego groups. The null hypothesis regarding significant differences between F-M and ego maturity was rejected. Recommendations included use of Weinstein's (1969) studies on interpersonal competence in developing future research. ^

Subject Area

School counseling

Recommended Citation

BROD, MARTHALEE THOMPSON, "FIXITY-MOBILITY IN COGNITIVE STYLE AND EGO DEVELOPMENT" (1985). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8508109.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8508109

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