Construct validation study of a two factor scale of psychological effectiveness : gender differences in the perception of assertive behavior



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The present study investigated the question: Do male and female students in the mental health field differentially assess psychological effectiveness as evidenced in male and female clients* expression of assertive, passive and aggressive behavior? In order to operationalize this question an adequate measurement of psychological effectiveness was necessary. A construct validity study was conducted on the Poe Psychological Effectiveness Scale (PPES) which was assessed as the most pertinent scale. Subjects were undergraduate psychology students who listened to three tapes depicting either male or female assertive, aggressive and passive clients. Subjects rated each client on the items of the PPES. The item responses were intercorrelated and their underlying structure was examined using a factor analytic procedure. A principal components extraction followed by a varimax rotation was applied to the intercorrelation of items as responses to each tape type separately and to the responses to the males and females separately. Two factors were identified that were accounting for the major percentage of the variance and these reflected some of the basic ideas in the existing theory of psychological effectiveness. Factor I described a person's humaneness in interpersonal relationships, while Factor II described a person's competency level. The construct validity coefficients for each of the 50 items in the PPES were obtained for the two factors, and from the nature of these values a revision and reduction of the scale was completed. The new scale was renamed The Client Behavior Scale. The second part of the research was a correlational study in which 66 graduate students in the mental health field listened to a series of six tapes depicting clients in each of the following behavior stances: assertive, passive and aggressive. Subjects rated each client on the Client Behavior Scale after listening to the tape. A multivariate analysis of variance was performed over twelve criterion measures utilizing sex of subjects as the two levels of the independent variable. The twelve criterion measures were the six tape types: passive, assertive and aggressive behaviors portrayed by both males and females along the two factors identified in the scale. There were no significant differences found between males and females in terms of the entire set of twelve criterion measures. A factor analysis was again performed on the responses to The Client Behavior Scale to determine whether the two factors identified in the construct validity study were stable. The results indicated that the two factors were again accounting for a major percentage of the variance, and that the individual items were again consistent on each factor. Although the major hypothesis of the study was rejected, the means of the male and female subjects’ responses to each of the tape types were similar, so that it was possible to average them and then to determine what trends were evident in the subjects' responses. The weighted means were computed for the pooled responses according to both factors, and these were placed along a continuum. Assertive behavior in both males and females was rated high on both factors, so that assertiveness was rated as highly effective behavior. Aggressive behavior in males and females was rated as inhumane, but the aggressive female was rated as the most inhumane. The subjects were more critical, then, of aggressiveness in females than in males. There was also a discrepancy in regard to passive behavior. Passive behavior in females was rated as more humane or effective than passive behavior in males. Pooled responses, then, indicated that both male and female subjects differentiated according to gender in regard to aggressive and passive behavior.