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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A re-examination of certain aspects of Rokeach's study on dogmatism Huberman, John

Abstract

This study consists partly of a repetition of certain projects reported in Milton Rokeach’s "The Open and Closed Mind" (1960) and partly of an attempt to enlarge upon his body of research. Problems. First: Will Rokeach's findings regarding differential behavior of subjects with extremely high and extremely low scores on his dogmatism scale in subsequent perceptual tasks be supported in a repetition of his experiments? Second: Can dogmatism, as measured by Rokeach's "D"- scale, be regarded as representing a continuum? Rokeach typically compared the behavior of groups of subjects with extremely high and low D-scores on certain subsequent tasks; when he also employed a third segment, consisting of individuals with intermediate D-scores in a questionnaire task, this latter segment behaved quite erratically. At times it acted like the dogmatic "extreme", at other times like the non-dogmatic "extreme" and several, times it went beyond the dogmatic extreme in its behavior. Rokeach offered two alternative explanations for the anomalous behavior of the Middle segment: chance effects inherent in the composition of this group and the possibility that the "D"-scale may not differentiate successfully between high- and middle-dogmatic subjects. He did not entertain a third possibility: that dogmatism may not represent a continuum. In other words, subjects with extremely high and low D-scores may show many characteristic differences in their behavior but this does not justify making any assumption as to the probable behavior of subjects with other than extreme D-scores. Such discontinuity is always possible when research has been restricted to behavioral aspects of only extreme segments of a total group. It was felt that a repetition of the relevant experiment may help to decide which of the three alternative explanations should be accepted. Third: This study was also designed to enlarge on Rokeach's body of findings on dogmatism. We expected that dogmatic subjects would find it harder than non-dogmatic subjects to accept suggested concepts on the Rorschach ink blots, and this possibility was to be investigated. To avoid the above mentioned methodological difficulties involved in a two extreme group design, a three-segment design was adopted throughout this study. Procedure. Rokeach's "D"-scale, Form E, and a questionnaire on attitudes towards parents and others who influenced subjects' development, were administered to students in six classes of the University of British Columbia summer session. Of the total male group of 187 students, 17 with extremely high, 17 with extremely low and 17 with middle D-scores were selected for individual testing. The tests included the author's "Suggested Concept Rorschach Test", and three perceptual tasks previously used by Rokeach; two types of Kohs block tasks and the Jackson (1956) adaptation of the Witkin Embedded Figure Test. Results and Conclusions. 1) No relationship was demonstrated between subjects' D-scores and their willingness to accept suggested Rorschach concepts. 2) Rokeach's findings regarding differential behavior of extremely high and low dogmatic subjects on certain Kohs block tasks were supported, generally at reduced levels of statistical confidence. 3) Contrary to Rokeach's findings, the Witkin test differentiated significantly between the low D segment on the one hand and the middle and high D segments on the other. 4) Contrary to Rokeach's findings, no difference was demonstrated between any of our segments in regard to feelings expressed towards parents or breadth of influence reported, on the questionnaire. 5) The evidence of the present study supports the belief that dogmatism does not represent a continuum. Rather, it has a two-polar structure. Subjects with low D-scores define one pole, while persons with middle and high D-scores define the other pole.

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