Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology



First Advisor

Allan Berman


Witkin and his associates have done extensive work on the relation of various perceptual tasks to broader personality dimensions. An avenue opened by this research which was of particular significance to this paper concerns the relationship between field dependence-independence and the individual's sense of separate identity. The more articulated the cognitive style, the more there is a manifestation of a sense of separate identity which includes such things as an awareness of needs and feeling which the person recognizes as his own and as distinct from others. By contrast a global cognitive style which implies a diminished or lesser sense of separate identity is manifested by more reliance external sources for definition of one's attitudes, judgements and view of oneself.

This study investigated the relationship between differentiation, ethnicity and adjustment as defined by Maslow.

It was hypothesized that more adjusted blacks would be more highly ethnic and field independent than less than adjusted blacks, that adjust blacks would be more ethnic than adjusted whites, that adjusted people would be more field independent than maladjusted people and that black maladjusted would be more field dependent than white maladjusted.

Two groups (Black American and Italian American) of young adult males were tested on dependency using the Embedded Figures Test, on ethnicity using the semantic differential and on adjustment using the Personal Orientation Inventory.

Adjusted blacks were found to be more highly ethnic than maladjusted blacks. Adjusted blacks were also found to be more highly ethnic than adjusted whites. The field dependency hypotheses were not confirmed.

The theoretical and methodological issues, which may have affected the results, were discussed. It was concluded that in blacks a high degree of ethnic consciousness contributes to adjustment and self-concept, Implications for future research were discussed, including the difficulties associated with using blacks as subjects and the recommendation that a future researcher be black himself.



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