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Social Conformity and Psychological Differentiation

Bertini, Mario; Christiansen, Bjorn; Oltman, Philip K.; Price-Williams, Douglas; Ramirez, Manuel.; Van Meel, Jacques; Witkin, Herman A.
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Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
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Subject/Key Words:
California Department of Mental Hygiene, Mental Retardation Research Center, UCLA, National Institute of Mental Health, Office of Naval Research, University of California, University of Hawaii, Social Science Research Institute, Cognitive Style, Conformity, Cross Cultural Studies, Field Dependence Independence, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Self Concept, Socialization


This study examined the role of socialization experiences in the development of psychological differentiation. In each of three countries (Holland, Italy, Mexico) two villages were selected as presenting a contrasting picture with regard to degree of emphasis on conformity to family, religious and political authority. It was hypothesized that within the pair of villages in each country children from the village which stressed social conformity would tend to be more field dependent and show other signs of less developed differentiation than children from the village in which social conformity was less emphasized. In each of the six villages approximately 100 children (boys and girls, aged 9-11 and 13-15) were studied. Differentiation was assessed by a battery of tests of field dependence-independence and the figure-drawing test. In every comparison of mean test scores between pairs of villages, in each of the three countries, children from the village in which social conformity was stressed obtained scores reflecting less differentiated functioning. Village differences were significant for every measure of differentiation in all three countries. Additional analyses of the data from the tests of differentiation and other tests used yielded results essentially consistent with findings from previous studies.

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