Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Frable, Deborrah Emily Smith, 1957-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Cognitive styles; Marginality; Social


This research project examined differences in representations of social groups between marginal individuals and non-marginal individuals. Both marginal and non-marginal individuals were expected to have more complex representations of their own group than other groups. However, because they are particularly likely to pay attention to social information, marginal individuals should also describe other marginals more complexly than do nonmarginal individuals. Subjects were black, obese, or "normal.” They repeatedly sorted 33 adjectives into personally meaningful categories. Their objective was to completely describe three target groups: black, obese, and articulate. Cognitive complexity scores were calculated from subjects' sorts, one for each group described. Results revealed that subjects described blacks more complexly than obese and obese more complexly than articulate. However no subject group was particularly likely to generate complex descriptions of all targets. Though the means were in the expected direction, the expected interaction between subject's group and the target group described was non-significant. Additional analyses were performed on two components that make up the cognitive complexity score. The expected interaction was significant when the number of categories used by the subject to describe the target group served as the dependent variable but not when the number of unique item groupings calculated from the subject's descriptions was the dependent variable. Questions arising from the lack of significance of subject's group by group described interaction are discussed.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 30-32)


v, 60 pages




Northern Illinois University

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