The relation between the obsessional character and aspects of cognitive performance

Ford, Michael George (1985). The relation between the obsessional character and aspects of cognitive performance. MPhil thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.000100ef

Abstract

This research aims to examine the relation between obsessionality and aspects of cognitive performance in secondary school children.

The obsessional character is typified by such traits as orderliness and caution, and may be distinguished from the obsessional neurotic who displays varied clinical symptoms. An examination of the literature attempts to ascertain the nature of relationships between obsessional attributes and cognition, but the majority of studies concentrate on adult clinical populations. The cognitive style of reflection-impulsivity is considered in view of its superficial similarity to the obsessionality dimension but it is found to be a narrow concept at its most discriminating with younger children.

Means of assessing obsessionality psychometrically are examined with particular reference to six tests, only one of which has a variant suitable for use with children, the Easy Reading Version of Kline's Ai3Q. Data on reliability and validity for this test are sought in a series of three studies with 12 and 13 year old children; it is concluded that it can satisfactorily discriminate between children of this age who may be labelled high or low obsessionals. Sex differences were also found.

Two studies of cognitive performance are carried out using four tasks involving speed and accuracy. The results confirm in general hypotheses that high obsessional children perform more accurately and with less speed than low obsessionals, but some interaction effects with sex are noted as well as indications of possible task-specificity.

The results are discussed in the light of such factors as underinclusive thinking and theories of reversal and arousal. It is concluded that obsessionality in an important variable to be considered when investigating cognition in children.

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