Date of Award

Summer 1978

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Tagatz, Glenn E.

Second Advisor

Bogenschild, Erika G.

Third Advisor

Leslie, Lauren


A great deal of research has been directed toward the study of the small group. Several major concentrations of interest developed over the last 30 years. A major facet of this activity was directed at the group as an idea-generating mechanism. A significant amount of research effort has been devoted to the identification and study of individual differences in the way people think, remember and perceive. One of these sets of individual differences, or cognitive styles, is known as field-dependence versus field-independence. Field-dependence as been shown to relate to an individuals propensities for using external cues as opposed to internal cues when apprehending, scoring, modifying or using information. The purpose of this research was to look at the relationship between group performance on an idea-generating problem and the field-dependent or field-independent cognitive styles of its members. Cognitive styles were defined as scores on the Hidden Figures Test, a paper and pencil instrument. The research design employed 108 female Head Start employees. They were randomly assigned to groups of two or four individuals. Homogeneous field-dependent or field-independent groups as well as groups of mixed field-dependent and field-independent members were formed. A total of 36 groups were formed. The research design afforded an opportunity to look at the following questions: 1. Are groups constituted of either all field-dependent or all field-independent members superior in the ability to generate ideas? 2. Are groups heterogeneous or homogeneous in cognitive style superior in their ability to generate ideas? 3. Does the size of the group affect its ability to generate ideas? All groups were instructed to generate ideas in response to a single nonsense problem. The ideas they generated in a 25 minute time period were rated by two raters for fluency, flexibility and originality. High inter-rater reliabilities were reported. The results of this study were that groups constituted of all field-independent members generated more ideas, were more flexible in generating ideas and had more original ideas than did groups of all field-dependent Ss. No significant results were reported regarding the effect of mixing field-dependent and field-independent,individuals within an idea-generating group. There was no significant effect for group size reported in this study. Limitations of this study were discussed.



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