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Effect of industrial values on science : an exploratory study Bowden, Edgar A.F.

Abstract

A study was made of the attitudes of pure and applied science, economics and commerce students toward the acceptability of commercial goals for scientific research. A significant amount of discrimination was obtained amongst such groups of students on a battery of attitude statements and a scale was constructed from sixteen of the statements which gave the highest discrimination between commerce students and a combined group of pure and applied science students. The discrimination between the two groups on this scale was at the .001 level. The commerce students were significantly less homogeneous as a group and gave responses which were less internally consistent than those of the science students. In the second phase of the research, scientific originality was rated on the results of a test called "Problems and Solutions" which called for the production of ideas in an industrial and a non-industrial context. The within- and between-rater reliabilities of this test were .88 and .58 when degrees of originality were assessed, whereas the latter was .85 when only the presence or absence of originality was assessed. The results of the second study showed that scientific originality was significantly less in the industrial context, and that the ideas produced in that context were significantly-more often of a commercial nature. In the sample as a whole these two effects of the problem context were unrelated. Detailed examination of the results revealed the probable existence of three types of subject, designated the 'uncreative pure scientist', the 'creative applied scientist' and the 'creative pure scientist'. The first was characterized by zero scores for originality in both context, by the production of more, commercial ideas in the industrial contexts, and by a more pure-science orientation as measured by the attitude, scale. The second type was characterized by the production of more commercial ideas and a higher originality score in the industrial context. The third type was characterized by a lower originality score in the industrial context and the production of fewer scientific ideas in that context, rather than (at least in comparison to the other two types of subject) the production of more commercial ideas. The results did not support the hypothesis i) that the adverse effect of an environmental value system is positively related to the degree of dissonance between its values and those of an individual in that environment; ii) that the reduced originality of scientists in an industrial test context is a result of their conforming to an image of industrial research ideas having to be both commercial and conventional in order to be acceptable; iii) that the more creative the individual, the greater the adverse effect of a possible constraint perceived in the industrial value system, as considered here. There was limited support for the hypothesis that the least creative individuals are most likely to produce ideas of a commercial type in an industrial context.

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