Congruence and Development of Beliefs and Hierarchic Position among Institutional Mental Patients

Keith T. Handell, Western Michigan University


The institutional mental patient is trained to function within the institutional setting. Relegated to the lowest organizational stratum, the inpatient adjusts his behavior accordingly. The present study was designed to find support for the contention that these institutionally induced changes are internalized. It was expected that (a) evidence of congruence between inpatients' beliefs and their organizational status would be detected, and (b) belief system change as a function of institutional experience would also be discernible. The results generally supported these main hypotheses; however, due to the nature and number of uncontrolled variables, the data are inconclusive. Alternative interpretations of these data, the implications of various included demographic variables, and possible modifications for future research designs are considered.