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Cognitive Styles in the Development of Medical Careers

Friedman, Florence; Goodenough, Donald R.; Moore, Carol Ann; Oltman, Philip K.; Owen, David R.; Raskin, Evelyn; Witkin, Herman A.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Graduate Record Examinations Board, National Institute of Mental Health, Career Choice, Career Guidance, Cognitive Style, Field Dependence Independence, Longitudinal Studies, Medical Education


Recent research has shown that academic choice and achievement may be partly a function of the student's standing on the field dependence-independence cognitive-style dimension. The results of two longitudinal studies suggest that information about field dependence-independence may be of value for student guidance in the medical setting. The first, a study of college undergraduates who early expressed an interest in medicine, showed that these cognitive styles play a discernible role in determining who will eventually enter medical school. The second, a study of medical students, showed that field dependent and field independent students subsequently tend to choose different medical specialties. These results are consistent with cognitivestyle theory, which proposes that field independent people will choose vocations that require cognitive restructuring skills, whereas field dependent people will choose vocationsthat require greater social-interpersonal involvement. (20pp.)

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