Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


This study has investigated the psychological effects of perceived and actual independence from and over the environment, i.e., control, as measured by the Weschler Adult Intelligence Scale, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, and the Personal Mental Health Data Form for Older People on the elderly individual. The independent variable was subjects selected form three major groups of elderly persons with varying degrees of independence form the environment: (1) Institutionalized, (2) Noninstitutionalized, but dependent upon some social agency or family for support, and (3) Totally independent. The groupings were made upon the objective criteria of source of income and permanent residence. The accuracy of these groupings in relation to “perceived independence” were measured by the Tiffany Experienced Control Scale (EC). Results on this scale confirmed the accuracy of the groupings. Persons in Group I invariably perceived themselves as having less control over and more control form their environments than person in Groups II and III. Significant differences at the .05 level were found eighty-eight percent of the variables tested on the EC Scale using an analysis of variance procedure. Differences between Group II and Group II were less clear and non-significant in most cases. It was further found that increasing environmental dependence and feelings of loss of control results in some manifestation of a variety of clinical symptoms which in turn support commonly held stereotypes about the elderly. An analysis of variance procedure performed on twelve subscales of the MMPI resulted in six significant differences between Groups I and Groups II and III. The mean profile for Group I also showed more phasicality and was more elevated, though still within the defined normal limits. Differences were not apparent between Groups II and III. With the exception of a few significant differences form an analysis of variance procedure on the performance section of the WAIS which were probably due to physical limitations of Group I persons, the WAIS did not appear to differentiate between the three Groups. No significant difference in overall intelligence was found the Personal Mental Health Data Form indicated that there were perceived differences in functioning and life histories and patterns in the three groups of persons over sixty. Persons who had the most independence exhibited life patterns more free of debilitating social, biological, and psychological circumstances. Overall, it was concluded that although a great deal more specific research needs to be done using this type of group differentiation, there is no overt reason for the popularly held stereotypes that psychological, sociological, and/or biological “deterioration” is the “norm” in the aging process. It was indicated, however, that persons who were allowed to maintain the psychological, sociological, and /or biological circumstances that proceeded age sixty, after the age of sixty were the least likely to experience this “deterioration”.


Robert Markley

Date of Award

Summer 1975

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 1975 Kay A. Dey


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