Date of Award

4-1981

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Department

Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Robert Hopkins

Second Advisor

Dr. Kenneth Bullmer

Third Advisor

Dr. Robert Brashear

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Malcolm Robertson

Abstract

The purpose of this research was to clarify the relationship between interpersonal perception and locus of control. Interpersonal perception refers to the process of understanding internal states of other human beings. Locus of control refers to the belief in the nature of causality of reinforcement. Viewed theoretically as a continuum, individuals at one end, labeled internals, believe that the reinforcement they receive in life is the direct result of their own behavior. Conversely, individuals at the opposite end of the continuum, labeled externals, believe that the reinforcement they receive in life is the result of fate, luck, or powerful others. The literature suggests that internals should be more accurate at interpersonal perception than either moderates or externals on the locus of control continuum. In addition, externals who significantly increase accuracy of interpersonal perception should alter their locus of control in the direction of internality. This research directly examined the relationship between locus of control and accuracy of interpersonal perception as well as the effect of significantly increasing accuracy of interpersonal perception upon locus of control in subjects with an external locus of control.

Seventy-one volunteer subjects from the Department of Education and Professional Development, College of Education, Western Michigan University, were assigned to one treatment group and were required to study meaningfully The Art of Empathy (Bullmer, 1975) over a 2-week period as a means of significantly improving accuracy of interpersonal perception. Seventy-two additional subjects from the Department of Education and Professional Development and Communication Arts and Sciences were assigned to a second treatment group and received no active treatment over the course of 2 weeks. All subjects were administered the I-E Scale and the Affective Sensitivity Scale at the onset of the treatment condition and again 2 weeks subsequent. The experimental group consisted of 15 external subjects who demonstrated a 5-point improvement on their scores on the Affective Sensitivity Scale. The remaining 49 external subjects who failed to increase, by 5 points on the Affective Sensitivity Scale, served as controls.

Null hypotheses stated that there would be no significant correlation between locus of control measured by the I-E Scale and interpersonal perception as measured by the Affective Sensitivity Scale for all subjects; that there would be no significant difference in accuracy of interpersonal perception between all extreme internal, moderate, and extreme external subjects; and that all external subjects who significantly increased accuracy of interpersonal perception would not alter locus of control in the direction of internality.

Results obtained from correlating scores on the I-E Scale and the Affective Sensitivity Scale yielded an r^(141) = -.05, £ > .05, therefore no significant linear relationship was found. Results obtained measuring differences in accuracy of interpersonal perception produced an _F(2,140) = 2.05, £ > .05, therefore no significant differences were found between extreme internals, moderates, and extreme externals. Results obtained from measuring whether externals who improved accuracy of interpersonal perception would alter locus of control in the direction of internality produced a %(14) = -.90, £ > .05, therefore no alteration in locus of control was found. Additional data analysis indicated that a significant shift in locus of control was found only in Treatment 1 subjects who were exposed to The Art of Empathy and occurred independent of any increase in accuracy of interpersonal perception.

It was concluded that the relationship between interpersonal perception and locus of control was not a linear function though the results were mildly supportive of a curvilinear relationship. Improving accuracy of interpersonal perception does not likely produce a shift in locus of control, though reading The Art of Empathy may produce a self-report of shift in locus of control.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

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