Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Counseling and Personnel

First Advisor

Dr. Paul T. Mountjoy

Second Advisor

Dr. Ken Strand

Third Advisor

Dr. Edward Trembley


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between field dependence-independence cognitive style and the interpersonal behavior of depressives. The interpersonal behavior of depressives ranges from passive and withdrawn to hostile and aggressive. This wide variety of depressed interpersonal behavior has not been satisfactorily explained by research or clinical observation.

Reseach results have indicated that field dependent (FD) and field independent (FI) people differ in their interpersonal behavior. Nondepressed FD people are often oriented towards people, whereas nondepressed FI people are usually oriented away from other people. It was hypothesized that these interpersonal orientations would also apply to depressed subjects and would be consistent with field dependence-independence theory.

A test battery consisting of the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), the Group Embedded Figures Test (GEFT), and the Interpersonal Check List (ICL) was administered to 113 undergraduate student subjects. The subjects were requested to complete the ICL relationships: self, someone strongly liked or loved, someone strongly disliked or hated, someone whom the subject could dominate, and someone who could dominate the subject. Interpersonal orientation was determined by four summary scores derived from the ICL. These were average intensity (AIN), dominance-submission (DOM), love-hate (LOV), and number of items checked (NIC). The subjects were assigned to a nondepressed, mildy depressed, or moderately depressed group based on their BDI score. Specific research hypothesis for AIN, DOM, LOV, and NIC were tested. In addition, a global research hypotheses for any combinations of variable interaction was tested.

The results of the study provided partial support for the specific research hypotheses. The specific research hypothesis for the cognitive style x depression x interpersonal relationship interaction was retained for AIN. Significant cognitive style differences were obtained for the moderately depressed group of subjects for variables DOM and NIC. The FD moderately depressed subjects scored significantly higher on DOM and NIC than did the FI moderately depressed group. DOM results were opposite and NIC results were consistent with FD-FI theory. However, these results were not influenced by interpersonal relationship. The additional significant results related to main depression and relationship effects.

It was concluded that cognitive style may influence the depressive's interpersonal behavior, but that this influence was specific to particular subsets of interpersonal behavior and not to all interpersonal behaviors. The results, limitations and recommendations for further research are presented.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Psychology Commons