Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Most authors have regarded the concepts of internal-external control and field dependence-field independence as two basically separate dimensions. However, in the area of personality, the two concepts may be related to a considerable degree. A review of the literature suggests that many of the same personality characteristics which can be attributed to internally controlled individuals are also common to field independent people. Also, those characteristics common to externally controlled people are found in field dependent individuals (Cardi, 1962; Franklin, 1963; Crowne & Liverant, 1963; Strickland, 1962; Getter, 1962; Gore, 1962; Elliot, 1961; Witkin, Lewis, Hertzman, Machover, Meissner, & Wapner, 1952*). The initial research concerning locus of control as conceptualized by social learning theory (Rotter; 195^ f I960) explains the perception of reinforcement as being differentially unique to all individuals. For instance, a spanking might be seen as a reward by some children and as a punishment by others. Rotter states that one of the determinants of how an individual reacts to reinforcement is his subjective perception that the reinforcement occurs independent of any of his own actions and is controlled by forces outside of himself. Those individuals who believe that reinforcement is controlled mainly through chance factors in their environment have been labeled externally controlled persons, while those who perceive the event of reinforcement as contingent upon their own behavior are termed internally controlled. The concept of field dependence-field independence was first empirically founded as the result of a series of studies (Asch & Witkin, 1948a, 1948b, 1948c. 1948d) which investigated factors utilized by the individual in establishing an upright position when in the absence of a surrounding visual field. In the earlier studies of the series, Witkin and Asch (1948a, 1948b) learned that by tilting a mirror or the whole room in which a S was enclosed, one could alter the S's visual cues enough to cause difficulty in attempting to adjust a movable rod to true vertical or horizontal. The results obtained were interesting in the fact that although all Ss were influenced to some degree by the tilting mirror or room, some were consistently more influenced than others. It appeared that some Ss were consistently dependent upon the visual field in their attempt to adjust the rod to vertical or horizontal while others were relatively unaffected by the visual field. Therefore, Ss were differentially termed field dependent or field independent. In the later studies of the same series it was found that those earlier Ss who appeared to be dependent upon the visual field also were influenced by having their bodies tilted and by viewing a tilted luminous frame in an otherwise blank visual field. Consistent with the earlier experiments, the field independent Ss had relatively little difficulty in moving the rod to upright or horizontal. Field dependent Ss experienced considerable difficulty in manipulating the rod. The present investigation assessed the possibility of a significant relationship between the two concepts of internal-external control and field dependence-field independence. This was done in two studies. Study I determined if a correlation existed between two tests that were shown to be representative measures of the two concepts. Study II was an attempt to research the relationship between the two concepts in relation to their influence on Ss1 performance on a behavioral task, a conformity situation.



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