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Relativistic and Dialectical Thought in Three Adult Age-Groups

Relativistic and Dialectical Thought in Three Adult Age-Groups The present study was undertaken to explore age differences in relativistic and dialectical thought, and to determine whether formal operations are necessary but not sufficient for these forms of thought. Sixty young (mean = 19.65 years), middle-aged (mean = 46.15 years), and older (mean = 68.50 years) adults, half of whom were male and half of whom were female, were presented with four formal operational tasks and two life-like dilemmas designed to assess relativistic and dialectical assumptions. Four-way analyses of variance with age (3), gender (2), dilemma (2), and thought level (4) with repeated measures on the last two factors were conducted on the relativism and dialecticism measures. In general, older adults showed significantly less rejection and more acceptance of relativistic and dialectical assumptions than young and middle-aged adults (p < 0.01), although on one measure this pattern varied by gender and dilemma (p < 0.01). Guttman scale analyses showed that formal operations were necessary but not sufficient for the acceptance of contradiction and its integration into the dialectical whole, but that awareness of relativity was necessary but not sufficient for formal operations. These findings support the position that relativistic and dialectical thought may increase in later life, and that dialectical but not relativistic thought is postformal operational. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Human Development Karger

Relativistic and Dialectical Thought in Three Adult Age-Groups

Human Development , Volume 29 (5): 11 – Jan 1, 1986

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Publisher
Karger
Copyright
© 1986 S. Karger AG, Basel
ISSN
0018-716X
eISSN
1423-0054
DOI
10.1159/000273064
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The present study was undertaken to explore age differences in relativistic and dialectical thought, and to determine whether formal operations are necessary but not sufficient for these forms of thought. Sixty young (mean = 19.65 years), middle-aged (mean = 46.15 years), and older (mean = 68.50 years) adults, half of whom were male and half of whom were female, were presented with four formal operational tasks and two life-like dilemmas designed to assess relativistic and dialectical assumptions. Four-way analyses of variance with age (3), gender (2), dilemma (2), and thought level (4) with repeated measures on the last two factors were conducted on the relativism and dialecticism measures. In general, older adults showed significantly less rejection and more acceptance of relativistic and dialectical assumptions than young and middle-aged adults (p < 0.01), although on one measure this pattern varied by gender and dilemma (p < 0.01). Guttman scale analyses showed that formal operations were necessary but not sufficient for the acceptance of contradiction and its integration into the dialectical whole, but that awareness of relativity was necessary but not sufficient for formal operations. These findings support the position that relativistic and dialectical thought may increase in later life, and that dialectical but not relativistic thought is postformal operational.

Journal

Human DevelopmentKarger

Published: Jan 1, 1986

Keywords: Age differences; Cognitive development; Dialecticism; Logical reasoning; Postformal operations; Relativism

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