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Field Dependence Revisited

Witkin, Herman A.; Goodenough, Donald R.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Behavioral Science Research, Cognitive Style, Field Dependence Independence, Individual Differences, Literature Reviews, Psychological Studies


Results of the large number of recent studies bearing on the field dependence-independence component of psychological differentiation are reviewed, and revisions and extensions of field dependence theory suggested by the newer evidence are identified. The field independent and field dependent cognitive styles now seem best conceived as tendencies to function with greater or less autonomy of external referents, manifested in both the cognitive and social domains. Associated with these contrasting tendencies, field independent people do well in cognitive restructuring tasks, at least in the spatial domain, whereas field dependent people show more of the interpersonal competencies involved in getting along with others. The field dependence-independence cognitive style dimension is thus bipoloar with regard to level, having no clear high or low ends; and it is neutral with regard to value, each pole having qualities adaptive in particular circumstances. Possible causal connections among field dependence-independence, cognitive restructuring skills, and interpersonal competencies are considered. Finally, a distinction is drawn between people who are fixed with regard to the characteristics associated with a field dependent or field independent style and those who are mobile, having access to the characteristics of both styles. (54pp.) (With RB-77-17 replaces RB-76-39)

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