Conceptual approaches to dependency assessment



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A survey of the literature revealed important deficiencies in measures of dependency currently in use and indicated that possible measures could be categorized within one of three conceptual classes. The central purpose of the study became an investigation of differences in effectiveness among these three conceptual approaches to the assessment of dependency. The three different conceptualizations of dependency distinguishable among measures intended to predict dependency-approach, dependency-avoidance, and dependency approach-avoidance (conflict) behavioral characteristics. On the basis of theoretical views concerning the development of dependency and the importance of conflict in emotional disturbance it was believed that a conflict approach to dependency assessment would provide the most clinically relevant predictors of dependency among the three conceptual classes of measures. It was hypothesized that the conflict approach to dependency assessment would provide measures more sensitive to changes induced by treatment than measures classed within the other two conceptualizations. Because measures of approach-avoidance dependency behavior were unavailable, it was first necessary to develop some measures of this type for initial testing in this study. A criterion of general personality change in subjects following clinical treatment was established by combining the scores from several measures of general personality. Assuming that change in a relatively specific area of personality (dependency) would be accompanied by changes in more general areas, changes in dependency status in subjects after treatment were compared with changes reflected by the general personality criterion and with changes reflected by the separate general personality measures. Subjects were 30 male psychiatric patients. The method of treatment utilized with the subjects was relatively formalized training in human relations. Subjects were tested pre- and post-treatment with a number of measures of dependency from the three conceptual approaches and with measures of general personality. The study yielded only limited findings. Few significant correlations were obtained between the predictors and the general personality criterion or between the predictors and the separate criterion measures. Consideration was given to several possible sources of error that conceivably could have influenced the outcome of the study. It seemed unlikely that any of them were major sources of error. Although no direct evidence was obtained to support the view that a conflict conceptualization of dependency provided dependency predictors more clinically relevant than dependency conceptualized in terms of need or anxiety, analysis of measures provided some indirect evidence indicating somewhat greater sensitivity and presumably validity for predictors based on a conflict conceptualization of dependency. On this basis conflict was tentatively judged to offer more promise as an approach to dependency assessment as compared with the other two conceptual approaches.



Dependency, Psychology