Rigidity (psychology)

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In psychology, rigidity refers to an obstinate inability to yield or a refusal to appreciate another person's viewpoint or emotions characterized by a lack of empathy. It can also refer to the tendency to perseverate, which is the inability to change habits and the inability to modify concepts and attitudes once developed.[1] A specific example of rigidity is functional fixedness, which is a difficulty conceiving new uses for familiar objects.[2] Systematic research on rigidity can be found tracing back to Gestalt psychologists, going as far back as the late 19th to early 20th century. With more than 100 years of research on the matter there is some established and clear data. Nonetheless, there is still much controversy surrounding several of the fundamental aspects of rigidity. In the early stages of approaching the idea of rigidity, it is treated as "a unidimensional continuum ranging from rigid at one end to flexible at the other". This idea dates back to the 1800s and was later articulated by Charles Spearman who described it as mental inertia. Prior to 1960 many definitions for the term rigidity were afloat. One example includes Kurt Goldstein's, which he stated, "adherence to a present performance in an inadequate way", another being Milton Rokeach saying the definition was, "[the] inability to change one's set when the objective conditions demand it".[3]

Mental set[edit]

Mental sets represent a form of rigidity in which an individual behaves or believes in a certain way due to prior experience.[4] In the field of psychology, mental sets are typically examined in the process of problem solving, with an emphasis on the process of breaking away from particular mental sets into formulation of insight. Breaking mental sets in order to successfully resolve problems fall under three typical stages: a) tendency to solve a problem in a fixed way, b) unsuccessfully solving a problem using methods suggested by prior experience, and c) realizing that the solution requires different methods.[5] Components of high executive functioning, such as the interplay between working memory and inhibition, are essential to effective switching between mental sets for different situations.[6] Individual differences in mental sets vary, with one study producing a variety of cautious and risky strategies in individual responses to a reaction time test.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Stewin, Len (September 1983). "The concept of rigidity: an enigma". International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling. 6 (3): 227–232. doi:10.1007/BF00124273. ISSN 0165-0653. 
  2. ^ Davis, Stephen F.; Palladino, Joseph J. (2007). Psychology. Pearson Prentice Hall. p. 331. ISBN 0-13-220840-7. 
  3. ^ http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-90681651.html
  4. ^ Zhao, Yufang; Tu, Shen; Lei, Ming; Qiu, Jiang; Ybarra, Oscar; Zhang, Qinglin. "The neural basis of breaking mental set: an event-related potential study". Experimental Brain Research. 208 (2): 181–187. doi:10.1007/s00221-010-2468-z. 
  5. ^ Zhao, Yufang; Tu, Shen; Lei, Ming; Qiu, Jiang; Ybarra, Oscar; Zhang, Qinglin. "The neural basis of breaking mental set: an event-related potential study". Experimental Brain Research. 208 (2): 181–187. doi:10.1007/s00221-010-2468-z. 
  6. ^ Brocki, Karin (November–December 2014). "Mental set shifting in childhood: The role of working memory and inhibitory control.". Infant and Child Development. doi:10.1002/icd.1871. 
  7. ^ Winkler, Alissa D.; Hu, Sien; Li, Chiang-shan R. "The influence of risky and conservative mental sets on cerebral activations of cognitive control". International Journal of Psychophysiology. 87 (3): 254–261. doi:10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2012.08.010. PMC 3511622Freely accessible. PMID 22922525. 

See also[edit]