ERIC Number: ED243017
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Nov
Reference Count: 0
A Developmental Investigation of Relativistic and Dialectical Thought.
Kramer, Deirdre A.
Post-formal operational thought is characterized by both relativism and dialecticism. To examine age differences across adulthood in relativistic and dialectical thought, and to determine whether formal operations are necessary but not sufficient for these forms of thought, 20 young (mean age, 19.6), 20 middle aged (mean age, 46.2), and 20 older (mean age, 68.5) adults were administered three cognitive tasks. The Ammons Quick Test was administered to determine the presence of comparable verbal intelligence. Subsequently, subjects were administered four formal operations tasks: separtion of variables; three measures of coordination of two frames of reference; and two life-like dilemmas, about which they were asked to react. Reactions to the dilemmas were placed into four categories of thought (formistic-mechanistic, relativistic, awareness of contradictions, and integration of contradictions into a dialectical whole). An analysis of the results showed that older adults scored significantly higher on the Quick Test than young adults, with middle aged adults falling between the two groups. On formal operations tasks, performance was intact across adulthood. On the life-like dilemmas, older adults showed significantly less rejection and more acceptance of relativistic and dialectical thought. Guttman scale analysis showed that formal operations were necessary but not sufficient for dialectical thought. The findings provide potential support for the hypothesis that dialectical thought is post-formal operational. (BL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Dialectical Thought; Relativism
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gerontological Society (36th, San Francisco, CA, November 17-22, 1983).