Reading and its relationship with parental identification and personality in a college population



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The purpose of this study was to explore the possibility that identification with a parental figure could be a contributory factor in the acquisition of adequate reading skill and to identify personality attributes of students with reading problems. Involved within this study was the proposition that those offspring who identified with father would be the better readers and those who identified with mother would be the poorer readers. The rationale for the study was based on the increasing awareness by psychologists and educators that an emotional balance is necessary for the acquisition of reading skills and on the long held belief that identification is an important factor in the emotional adjustment and socialization of the child. Canvassing of literature pertaining to this study showed a trend away from the long accepted 'symmetry' assumption of identification which specifies that in order for a son to attain emotional stability he must identify with.the father and for a daughter to reach emotional stability she must identify with the mother. Now this concept appears to be changing. Identification with the father by both son and daughter seems to lead to better adjustment in school and college, and conversely identification with mother appears to result in maladjustment. A college sample composed of 277 freshmen and sophomores was used, for it was felt that identification with either parent had solidified by late adolescence. Subjects came from the Effective Study and Reading classes and were administered three different tests. Testing instruments used included the reading portion of the Cooperative English Test to differentiate five reading levels: good, adequate, average, inadequate, and poor; the Gough Adjective Check List which served as a self- descriptive measure, and the Heilbrun Parental Form, a forced-choice test composed of identical adjectives as in the ACL but in paragraph form which measured perceived parental similarity. Together the two instruments compose the Gough-Heilbrun Identification Scale. Incorporated within the Adjective Check List are the Need Scales which form a cluster of 15 personality traits corresponding to those of the Edwards Personal Preference Schedule. These scales were used to sift out personality characteristics of subjects with reading problems and to isolate those traits chosen by the 'identifying' offspring for himself and for his parent. Results were as follows: 1. Male subjects who were classified as poor readers identified with mother significantly more than with father. 2. Female subjects who were classified as poor readers identified with mother significantly more than with father. 3. Female subjects classified as inadequate readers^ the second lowest category of reading ability, identified with mother significantly more than with father. 4. The majority of both male and female readers of this study in all levels of reading ability identified more with mother than with father but not at a significant level. The exception to the mother identification trend of the sample was the female average reader who showed no parental preference. 5. Intercorrelations between personality traits and identification showed that those readers who identified with mother also were high on the need traits of nurturance and deference. 6. The personality trait of intraception showed significant positive relation with reading for the entire sample. 7. The hypothesis that subjects identifying with father would be the better readers was not supported.



Reading, Psychology of, Identification (Psychology), Parent and child, College students, Books and reading