Psychological differentiation: Current status

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Abstract

Examined the status of the differentiation hypothesis, derived from differentiation theory, in light of accumulated evidence since the hypothesis was proposed by H. A. Witkin et al (see PA, Vol 37:819). Assuming that greater or less differentiation is an organismic attribute, the hypothesis postulated that behaviors reflecting extent of differentiation are likely to be interrelated, resulting in self-consistency in individual functioning across domains. The newer evidence confirmed the linkages among the behaviors examined in earlier research. The hypothesis was also useful in generating predictions about linkages to behaviors in new domains (cognitive restructuring, interpersonal competencies, and cerebral lateralization); these predictions were tested and generally confirmed. The differentiation construct accounted for phenomena that could not be accommodated by other lower order constructs, such as field dependence-independence. Whereas the differentiation hypothesis dealt only with the interrelatedness among components of a cluster of behaviors subsumed under differentiation, the newer evidence carried suggestions for a hierarchical ordering of these components and for the nature of causal connections among them. (4½ p ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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