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Field dependence and a neopiagetian model of information-process capacity Eccles, Elsie Marie

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of field dependence and age on the information-processing abilities of children of ages 5, 7, 9 and 11. A third purpose was to test a Ncopiagetien model of developmental task circumstances different to those under which it was initially tasted. Each age group was divided into a field dependent (FD) and field independent (FI) group on the basis of the Children's Embedded Figures Test. They were then administered a test which constituted a Finite Equal Differences task as described by Pascual-Leone (1967). Training consisted of teaching each age group a specific number of separate schemes. That is, one simple stimulus was associated with one simple response. Each schema then constituted a separate piece of information. The testing session was designed to determine how many separate schemas the children could integrate at one time, that is, to determine the information-processing capacity of the groups. Simple stimuli consisted of dimensions such as shape and colour. Testing stimuli were multidimensional combinations of these. Stimuli were projected on a screen. Response mode was pushing buttons on a panel. Each simple stimulus was associated with a specific button. The results supported the predicted superiority of performance of Fl Ss over FD Ss for each age group. Fl Ss were able to coordinate more separate schemas than FD Ss. The analysis of variance approached significance at the .05 level for the main effect of field dependence-independence: the mathematical expectation was higher for the Fl group at each age level: and the Fl variance was greater at each age level. The predicted superiority of performance with increasing age was also confirmed. The analysis of variance was significant at the .005 level for the main effect of age; mathematical expectations increased with age for both Fl and FD groups; and variance increased with age for both the Fl and FD groups. The analysis of variance showed no interaction effect. The performance of the groups in this study in general did not match the performances predicted by the model, nor the empirical results of Pascual-Leone (1967). Reasons for this were discussed in terms of the different effects of the mode of stimulus presentation on attentional factors; differences in response discriminability; and the effect of task activity requirements on the arousal level of the subjects.

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