A controversy about the nature of behavioral rigidity exists in current psychological theory. To date, large bodies of empirical data have been accumulated which support two major theoretical perspectives. A dichotomy exists between the assumption that rigidity is a personality factor and the perspective that maintains that rigidity is task specific, a behavioral phenomena observable under certain conditions. This paper highlights the dichotomy by examining some of the relevant classical and recent research in the area. It is concluded that the concept must be used cautiously by both researchers and practitioners.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Allen, T.W. and Whitley, J.M. (1969). Dimensions of effective counselling. Columbus: Ohio: Merrill.
Anderson, C.C. (1981). The bogus science. Canadian Journal of Education 6(4): 8–22.
Angleitner, A. (1973). Factor analysis of the concept of rigidity. Archives für Psychologie 125(1): 73–104.
Angleitner, A. and Rudinger, G. (1975). An examination of factorial disruption of intelligence and rigidity. Archives für Psychologie 127(1–2): 35–50.
Applezweig, D.G. (1954). Some determinants of behavioral rigidity. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 49: 224–228.
Baer, D.J. (1964). Factors in perception and rigidity. Perceptual and Motor Skills 19(2): 563–570.
Cattell, R.B. (1935). On the measurement of perseveration. British Journal of Educational Psychology 5: 76–92.
Cattell, R.B. (1946). The riddle of perseveration: I. Creative effort and disposition rigidity. II. Solution in terms of personality structure. Journal of Personality 14: 229–238, 239–267.
Cattell, R.B. and Tiner, L.G. (1949). The varieties of structural rigidity. Journal of Personality 17: 321–341.
Chown, S.M. (1959). Rigidity — a flexible concept. Psychological Bulletin 56(3): 195–223.
Corder, B.F. and Corder, R.F. (1974). A study of the relationship of IQ and cognitive and personality rigidity to performance on concept learning tasks. Educational and Psychological Measurement 34(1): 83–90.
Cowen, E.L. and Thompson, G.G. (1951). Problem solving rigidity and personality structure. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 46: 165–176.
Cowen, E.L., Wiener, M. and Hess, J. (1953). Generalization of problem-solving rigidity. Journal of Consulting Psychology 17: 100–103.
Ferniman, S. and Rogers, J.D. (1974). Sex differences in psychological rigidity. Perceptual and Motor Skills 39(3): 1337–1338.
Fisher, S. An overview of trends in research dealing with personality rigidity. Journal of Personality 17: 342–351.
Fisher, S. (1950). Patterns of personality rigidity and some of their determinants. Psychological Monographs 64(1 Whole no. 307).
Forster, N., Vinacke, W.E. and Digman, J.M. (1955). Flexibility and rigidity in a variety of problem situations. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 50: 211–216.
French, E.G. (1955). Interrelations among some measures of rigidity under stress and non-stress conditions. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 51: 114–118.
Goodstein, L.D. (1953). Intellectual rigidity and social attitudes. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 48: 345–353.
Kounin, J. (1948). The meaning of rigidity: a reply to Heinz Werner. Psychological Review 55: 157–166.
Leach, P.J. (1967). A critical study of the literature concerning rigidity. British Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 6(1): 11–22.
Luchins, A.S. (1949). Rigidity and ethnocentrism a critique. Journal of Personality 17: 467–474.
Oliver, J.A. and Ferguson, G.A. (1951). A factorial study of tests of rigidity. Canadian Journal of Psychology 5: 49–59.
Pinard, J.W. (1932). Tests of perseveration. British Journal of Psychology 23: 114–126.
Rokeach, M. (1948). Generalized mental rigidity as a factor in ethnocentrism. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 43: 259–278.
Rubenowitz, S. (1963). Emotional flexibility-rigidity as a comprehensive dimension of mind. PA: Council Report NR34.
Schaie, K. Werner (1955). A test of behavioral rigidity. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 51: 604–610.
Schmidt, H.O., Fonda, C.P. and Wesley, E.L. (1954). A note on the consistency of rigidity as a personality variable. Journal of Consulting Psychology 18: 450.
Schroeder, H.M. (1971). Conceptual complexity and personality organization. In H.M. Schroeder and P. Suedfild (Eds.), Personality theory and information processing, New York: Ronald Press.
Scott, W.A. (1966). Flexibility, rigidity and adaptation: toward clarification of constructs. In O.S. Harvey (Ed.), Experience, structure and adaptability, New York: Springer.
Stewin, L.L. (1980). Rigidity revisited. Unpublished paper. University of Alberta.
Werner, H. (1946). The concept of rigidity: a critical evaluation. Psychological Review 53: 43–52.
About this article
Cite this article
Stewin, L. The concept of rigidity: An enigma. Int J Adv Counselling 6, 227–232 (1983). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00124273
- Empirical Data
- Large Body
- Theoretical Perspective
- Personality Factor
- Psychological Theory