Thursday, 10 January 2013

#261 Psychological Rigidity - "I have always ... I will never change!"

     "Although the term rigidity may be somewhat out of vogue among personality and social psychologists today, we continue to see considerable interest in a range of highly related personality variables, such as flexibility, need for closure, and openness to experience. Indeed, every major personality inventory contains a dimension similar to rigidity. ... Social psychologists have always been interested in behavior change. As presented in the following review, rigidity is the tendency of an individual not to change.
     On the basis of our definition of rigidity,
the tendency to develop & perseverate in the use of mental or behavioral sets, the present review of the literature supports the following major conclusions:

• Rigidity is related to age in a curvilinear manner. Between the ages of 5 and 18 rigidity decreases; between the ages of 18 and 60 rigidity is fairly stable; and from age 60 on rigidity increases in a linear fashion.

• Although rigidity is found to be generally positively related to authoritarianism, the basic effect is moderated by stress, whereby authoritarianism is a stronger predictor of rigid behavior under stressful conditions than it is under relaxed conditions.
• Rigidity is negatively related to intelligence when people of average and above average intelligence levels are compared.
• It is inconclusive whether people with mental retardation differ in rigidity from people without mental retardation.
Men tend to be more rigid than women.
OCD is positively related to rigidity.
• Schizophrenic people are more rigid than nonschizophrenic controls and nonschizophrenic siblings. This effect is reduced, but still significant, when medication is administered."

        Schultz PW, Searleman A. Rigidity of thought and behavior: 100 years of research. Genet Soc Gen Psychol Monogr 2002; 128(2): 165-207.

Dan Siegel MD

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