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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The personality-perception problem : an investigation of the relationship between security and insecurity and visual perceptual closure Speed, Richard Henry


The problem in this thesis developed out of a consideration of the relationship between personality and perception, and particularly, a consideration of how an important autochthonous determinant of perception might be differentially affected when the perceptual system is serving the purposes of the organism generally. Perception has been considered as a functional process with its main experiential and autochthonous determinants and it has been suggested that both types of determinants are instrumental in bringing the perceptual process within the overall consistency of organismic function. The experiment undertaken in this thesis is an attempt to examine one part of this last-mentioned proposition, namely, that an autochthonous.determinant will differentially contribute to perceptual functioning as the "Anschauung" or 'personality style' of the organism varies. The personality attribute Security-Insecurity proposed by A.H. Maslow was chosen as one variable for this study. It was chosen because that author's theoretical approach to the problem of personality functioning seemed consistent with a view of 'the organism as a whole', as well as with a view of the perceptual and other processes acting in accord with the characteristic 'style of organismic functioning. Maslow has stated that an 'insecure' person will emote, think, perceive, and in every way function insecurely. In addition to the relevance of this theoretical approach, Maslow devised a questionnaire type Security-Insecurity Test which, he believes, serves to identify those individuals who are relatively 'secure' and 'insecure'. This test was consequently available to use as the instrument for measuring the personality variable in this experiment. The autochthonous perceptual determinant, 'visual perceptual closure', was chosen for this study as it was identified by L.L. Thurstone as being one of the most important of the perceptual determinants. Moreover, in his study where he identified closure and other variables, Thurstone suggested that the characteristics of the person as a whole might be inferred from the dynamics of one these functions. This is in accord with Maslow's above stated view. Bruner and Postman also postulate a relationship between personality functioning and the determinant 'closure'. When Thurstone identified 'closure' he did so on the basis of tests which measure that ability. Measuring instruments for the perceptual variable were consequently available. The Gottschaldt Figures Test was used here together with the Mooney Closure Test. Though this second test was not used by Thurstone, it is derived mainly from the Street Gestalt Completion Test which he did use. The Gottschaldt and the Mooney tests served as separate measures of the perceptual variable in this experiment. The experiment consisted of a test of the hypothesis that 'insecure' subjects would have impaired closure ability as compared with 'secure' subjects. Introductory psychology students at U.B.C. were tested and the relationships between their 'insecurity' and 'closure' scores were determined. This was done, firstly, by finding intercorrelations (Pearson Product-Moment 'r'), and secondly, by determining the differences between the means of closure test scores of matched 'secure' and 'insecure' groups. The hypothesis was not supported by the data obtained in either of these experimental designs.

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