Psychology Appendix to Pack 6536 The Psychology of Individual Differences

Appendix to Pack 6536
The Psychology of Individual
Summer 2000
Appendix to Pack 6536
The Psychology of Individual
Support Materials
Outcome 2- Major Studies
Psychology: Appendix to Pack 6536 - Psychology of Individual Differences (H)
Psychology: Appendix to Pack 6536 - Psychology of Individual Differences (H)
Major study/article: Gould, S.J. (1982) A nation of morons. New Scientist
(6 May 1982) 349-52.
This article in the New Scientist magazine is in fact an extract from Gould’s book, The
Mismeasure of Man, which examines human intelligence testing from the nineteenth
century through to the modern day. In essence, the book/article/study sets out to
reject the hereditarian theory of intelligence.
The article examines the impact of the work of Robert M Yerkes and intelligence
testing in America during the First World War and its subsequent impact upon
Yerkes longed for psychology to have the same social standing and respectability as
other established sciences and felt that sound mental testing would be an avenue to get
this academic respectability. His efforts saw him working with a group of hereditarians
including Lewis Terman and HH Goddard to produce intelligence tests for US Army
recruits. Their work resulted in the production of three tests, the Army Alpha and
Beta tests and a third individual test for those who failed the Beta test.
The participants were all US Army recruits with a sample size of 1.75 million.
The Alpha test, being a written examination, was administered to all literate recruits in
eight parts. The Beta test was administered to those who were illiterate or who had
failed the Alpha test. The Beta test was a pictorial test consisting of seven sections.
Both the Alpha and Beta test could be completed within one hour. Those soldiers who
failed the Beta test completed an individual examination. Once the tests had been
administered army psychologists then graded the soldiers from A+ through to E- and
on the basis of this suggested the role that the soldier should perform within the army.
For Yerkes, any soldier obtaining a score of C- was seen to be of low average
intelligence whilst D or E soldiers were not expected to be able to ‘read and
understand written directions’.
Students should note that considerable problems were later identified with the results
obtained. Due to the vast numbers involved, racial bias and a non-standardisation of
testing many soldiers did not sit the correct level of test and were never recalled to sit
the correct test. Consequently, the results obtained were later felt not a fair reflection
of the soldiers’ abilities.
Psychology: Appendix to Pack 6536 - Psychology of Individual Differences (H)
Further, E.G. Boring an assistant to Yerkes, selected 160,000 cases and produced a
set of data from which three issues emerged. The first being that the average mental
age of the white American was 13. Secondly, European immigrants could be graded
by their country of origin with those from Western and Northern Europe deemed to
have a higher intelligence. Thirdly, the Afro-American was situated firmly at the
bottom of the scale having an average mental age of 10.41.
Yerkes devised the first mass-produced intelligence test which generated a tremendous
level of interest and enquiry from a wide variety of sources outside the military. This
heralded an era of mass testing in the USA and ultimately in the UK.
Significantly, the results obtained in America had a massive political effect and were
used to aid the cause of the Eugenicists in their attempt to stem the flow of
immigrants to America. Their arguments certainly played an influential role in the
introduction of the 1924 Immigration Restriction Act in the USA which had far
reaching consequences for potential immigrants to America – tragically impacting upon
those who sought to escape the holocaust in Europe.
As hereditarians, Yerkes and his colleagues devised a series of tests to measure innate
intelligence which by definition takes no account of environmental factors or indeed
cultural differences. Unfortunately, the tests made no allowance for the fact that many
recruits would not have completed their high school education and that many of the
immigrants tested would not be familiar with American language and culture which
predominated many of the questions; even in the pictorial Beta test. Further to this,
the low scores obtained by Afro-Americans can be attributed to their history of being
suppressed by a dominant white population and to the inherent racism that existed in
American society at that time.
Yerkes ignored such issues and instead utilised his results to support his hereditarian
Psychology: Appendix to Pack 6536 - Psychology of Individual Differences (H)
Major Study: Rosenhan, D.L. (1973) On being sane in insane places. Science,
179, 250-258.
In traditional psychiatry the medical model very much influences the approach and
treatments that are applied to those in need of assistance. It should be remembered
that as medically trained professionals many psychiatrists are trained to see psychiatric
disorders in the same light as other types of illness. Interestingly, this whole medical
approach permeates through to a variety of levels in both psychiatry and indeed
psychology. Consider the terminology most often used in dealing with mental illness:
diagnosis, therapy and patient are but three examples. This terminology indicates a
‘sickness’ that is impliedly present within the individual.
This field experiment conducted by Rosenhan wanted to test the hypothesis that those
who are sane - and those who are insane - cannot be easily identified by psychiatrists
using the DSM classification system. Consequently if this is the case the classification
system being utilised to produce the faulty diagnosis must also be invalid – and much
of the therapy or psychosurgical interventions which underlie it.
The participants consisted of eight pseudo-patients, three females and five males (one
of the pseudo-patients was Rosenhan himself who only revealed his identity to the
chief psychologist and the hospital administrator) coming from a diverse range of
backgrounds including a housewife, a psychiatrist, a painter and a psychology
There are essentially two parts to this experiment. The major part is centred on a
number of pseudo-patients feigning auditory hallucinations and attempting to gain
admission to a number of US hospitals. The second part involved informing members
of staff at another research and teaching hospital that pseudo-patients would attempt
to gain entry to the hospital during a three-month period. None however did.
(It should be noted that participant observation was an important part of this
experiment as the pseudo-patients kept written records once they were admitted to the
various hospitals).
12 different hospitals were used in the study in five different states in both the east and
west coast of the USA.
The patients contacted the hospital for an appointment and gave a false name, vocation
and complained of hearing voices. This was the independent variable. All additional
information given, such as life history, relationships and personal circumstances were
all recounted truthfully for that particular person. Once the patient had been admitted
to a ward they immediately stopped feigning any abnormal symptoms and began
recording their experiences.
Psychology: Appendix to Pack 6536 - Psychology of Individual Differences (H)
The second part to the experiment focused on attempting to diagnose the insane sane.
This involved informing the staff at a research and teaching hospital that over a threemonth period one or more pseudo-patient would attempt to gain admission to their
hospital. The staff were asked to use a ten-point scale to rate all those who presented
themselves at admissions or on the ward as to whether or not they were deemed a
The results obtained for the main part of the research are particularly interesting as
none of the pseudo-patients were ever detected by psychiatric professionals as ‘at it’!
Their stay in hospital averaging 19 days, ranged from seven to fifty two days. All bar
one were admitted with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. The only people who suspected
anything amiss were a number of the actual patients in the wards who often vocalised
these suspicions to the pseudo-patients. On discharge, the pseudo-patients were given
the diagnosis of schizophrenia in remission.
The results for the second experiment are also interesting. The staff made judgements
on 193 patients with the following results:
• 41 patients were identified by at least one member of staff as being pseudopatients,
• 23 were identified by at least one psychiatrist and 19 by a psychiatrist and another
staff member. All admissions were genuine!
For Rosenhan, this research raised some real concerns regarding the identification of
the sane and the insane and over the reliability and accuracy of the processes used to
diagnose patients. Further to this, Rosenhan states that ‘It is clear that we cannot
distinguish the sane from the insane in psychiatric hospitals, which themselves
impose a special environment in which the meanings of behaviour can be easily
Rosenhan raises some pertinent issues and in the light of his research produced further
discussion on the experience of being a psychiatric patient and on the powerlessness
and depersonalisation that is experienced by the patient. These are negative
experiences which do little to assist the patient or the disorder. Indeed, if psychiatrists
cannot identify the sane from the insane then the question of whether they can
differentiate between different types of psychiatric disorders becomes even more
clouded and questionable.
The issue of the dominant medical model and its classification of disorders has been
embroiled in argument for many years with adversaries fiercely contesting their views.
In the past, the reliability of classification varied especially if psychiatrists, trained in
different countries, were compared i.e. between the USA and Britain. It should be
noted that today much clearer and more universal guidelines exist in the form of more
Psychology: Appendix to Pack 6536 - Psychology of Individual Differences (H)
up-to-date publications such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV which
provides clearer structured information for classifying psychological problems and
Psychology: Appendix to Pack 6536 - Psychology of Individual Differences (H)
Consequently, it is unlikely that a psychiatrist today would be so easily duped by a
pseudo-patient feigning auditory hallucination - as for example the symptom (and
others) would have to be repeated on a number of occasions over a period of time.
Rosenhan’s experiment allowed for only one such episode.
Rosenhan also placed great emphasis on the labelling process that takes place within
the hospital setting. This raises another important issue of how people are treated in
hospitals once they have been labelled as having a disorder. Interestingly, although
Rosenhan placed great emphasis on the power of labelling the real patients in the
hospitals were not themselves overcome by the labels attributed to the pseudo-patients.
Psychology: Appendix to Pack 6536 - Psychology of Individual Differences (H)
Major Study: Brown, C.A & Detoy, C.J. (1988) A comparison of the personal
constructs of management in new and experienced managers. In Fransella F. &
Thomas l. (eds) Experimenting with personal construct psychology. London:
Routledge and Keegan Paul.
In order to successfully engage with this study it is strongly recommended that the
student obtain a clear understanding of George Kelly’s (1955) Personal Construct
Theory. The following few lines serve only as a very brief summary of a challenging
area in personality. In an addition a sound understanding of the Role Construct
Repertory Test devised by Kelly is also important if Brown and Detoy is to be clearly
Personal constructs are for Kelly the way in which we make sense of the world via
our unique perceptions. Thus for Kelly, the human being acts like a scientist by
formulating hypotheses, testing them and in the light of this hypothesis testing revises
them if necessary. Put simply ‘If it works don’t fix it.’ This personal construct then
helps to provide each person with their own unique way of making sense of the world
and the people in it. He believed that to really understand a person it was vital to
know something about those person’s personal constructs. To assist in this Kelly
devised a method of accessing these constructs using his Role Construct Repertory
Grid. This enables a researcher or other professional to use the individuals own
constructs to help analyse their experience.
The Brown & Detoy (1988) study is set against the background of training in
employment and the effectiveness or otherwise of employees. Indeed, it is identified
that very often the individual and the management may well be functioning on the basis
of different constructs and as such the operational efficiency of the individual will be
impaired. It is argued that if trainers first ascertain the personal constructs of their
trainees then the whole training process will itself be enhanced providing at the end of
the day a more secure and competent worker.
The participants were all employees of Coldwell Banker a major Californian
commercial real estate brokerage. They consisted of 41 new managers who had been
assigned to their management positions six months or less and 33 experienced
managers who had been in position for six month or more.
All the managers were given the Role Construct Repertory Test by a psychologist
hired specifically for that task. The exercise was described to the mangers as a method
of ascertaining the concepts they each held about management. The test contained
three sheets of paper; the instruction sheet, role title sheet and the response sheet.
The version of the test used contained ten role titles including, the best manager you
know; the worst manager you know; self; a favourite teacher and your best friend.
Psychology: Appendix to Pack 6536 - Psychology of Individual Differences (H)
In completing the test the mangers firstly had to name an individual that they knew
personally who fitted each of the role titles - with that named person only being used
once. They had to use the response sheet to think about three people identified on the
sheet and consider if two of them were alike in some important way different from the
third person. They then had to write a word or phrase describing the more positive
end of the spectrum that differentiated the two people from the third and perform a
similar task for a negative word or phrase.
Brown and Detoy took Landfield’s 1971 personal construct categories (22) and
condensed them into 6. The 637 constructs obtained from the managers were then
arranged into these six categories. The two categories of most interest and relevance
identified by Brown and Detoy (1988) were Social Interaction and Forcefulness.
24 % of the constructs of the experienced managers fell in the forcefulness category
compared with only 16% of new managers. Indeed, it was found that the experienced
managers used constructs that involved forcefulness a great deal more than new
managers. In addition, 32% of the constructs of the new managers fitted in the Social
Interaction category, compared with only 13% of experienced managers. This indicted
that the new managers tended to construe management in terms of social behaviour.
In terms of social psychology the experienced managers were more task-orientated
than the less authoritarian new management intake.
The use of the Role Construct Repertory Test proved to be particularly useful in
identifying to the managers the different management constructs that they each brought
with them to their work and to any training that they attended. In addition, it
highlighted the influence of experience upon their constructs and indeed, how their
constructs differed from that of the company as an organisation.
Brown and Detoy put the practical application of personal construct theory into the
context of management training programmes. It enables a clear comparison of the
constructs held by each individual in a straightforward way and gives immediate
feedback to those completing the test. One of the further values of the process being
that it generates considerable discussion long after the test had been completed and
causes many to re-construe the world of work in which they operate - which it is
hoped is valuable to the individual and to the organisation as a whole.
It should be noted that personal construct theory does have its critics; some have
stated that it is difficult to address the theory without the grid devised by Kelly and
that the process of obtaining constructs does itself limit the thoughts of the individual
which in turn very much limits the data that is obtained concerning their thoughts
feelings and possible behaviours.
Psychology: Appendix to Pack 6536 - Psychology of Individual Differences (H)
Psychology: Appendix to Pack 6536 - Psychology of Individual Differences (H)