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Reversal Theory and Mother-Child Compatibility

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O'Connor, Pauline Roberta 1992 , 'Reversal Theory and Mother-Child Compatibility', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

Apter (1982, 1989) and Apter and Smith (1979) reinterpret tnany problems of the family in terms of the theory of psychological reversals (Smith & Apter, 1975). Apter and Smith hypothesise that many family problems arise out of an incompatibility between family members due to telic/paratelic modeopposition or conformist/negativist mode-opposition (i.e. two individuals occupying the opposite mode at the same time). One may adduce as further evidence for this suggestion a body of literature in Social Psychology suggesting that we like those who are similar to ourselves and dislike those who are dissimilar to ourselves. Study 1 established construct validity of scales used to measure the somatic (i.e. telic/ paratelic, and conformist/negativist) pairs of modes, and provided Australian data for these scales. Studies 2 and 3 established that mode-opposition inhibits mothers' compatibility with vignettes of non-related 10-year-old girls for the telic, paratelic (study 2) and conformist (study 3) modes.
Study 2 suggests that despite metamotivational style, all mothers were most compatible with the highly reversible child (i.e. able to reverse between modes). In retrospect this seems obvious. First, highly reversible people are adaptable both in accommodating the modes of others and to the demands of the present situation. A body of literature suggests that we feel compatible with adaptable individuals. Second, Apter (1989), Murgatroyd and Apter (1984) and Van der Molen (1985) suggest that mentally healthy and well-adjusted individuals need to reverse regularly between modes. Studies 3, 4, 5 and 6 hypothesised that mothers would feel most compatible with highly reversible children, despite metamotivational style for the somatic pairs of modes. The effect occurred in all studies. Moreover, study 4 (where telic or paratelic mothers rated conformist and negativist children, and conformist or negativist mothers rated telic and paratelic children) suggested that all mothers were most compatible with highly reversible children despite the mothers' own somatic mode.
Results from study 2 also suggest that mode-dominance (i.e. a preference for one mode over the other) produced a global inhibitory effect on mothers' compatibility with children. Again, in retrospect this seems obvious. First, mode-dominant people are ill-adaptable, both in accommodating the modes of others and in responding to demands in the environment. Second, a body of literature suggests that we perceive mode-dominant individuals as difficult. Studies 3, 4, 5 and 6 hypothesised that mothers would feel incompatible with mode-dominant children, despite metamotivational style for the somatic pairs of modes. The effect occurred in all studies. Moreover, study 4 suggested that mothers were incompatible with mode-dominant children despite the mothers' own somatic mode.
Studies 2 and 3 further suggest that despite metamotivational style, mothers were more compatible with the telic and conformist children than the paratelic or negativist children, for whatever reason. It was hypothesised if arousal orientation (i.e. arousal-seeking, arousal-avoiding) is a variable influencing compatibility, its effect should be evident despite somatic mode. The effect occurred in study 4.
Since studies 2 and 3 provided support for the effect of mode-opposition, and the literature indicated that we dislike those dissimilar to ourselves, it was hypothesised that mode-opposition also should inhibit highly reversible mothers' compatibility with mode-dominant children. As studies 2 and 3 did not control reversals between the modes, highly reversible mothers could have been in either mode when rating the children. Studies 5 and 6 tested this hypothesis with the somatic pairs of modes using a mode induction technique to manipulate the modes of highly reversible mothers. Despite constructing new vignettes to avoid learning effects from re-using previous vignettes, the results were not significant. As the mode induction appeared to have been effective in study 5 (telic/paratelic highly reversible mothers), it is plausible that dominance not mode is the crucial variable determining compatibility due to mode-opposition. In study 6 (conformist/negativist highly reversible mothers) it is likely that the mode induction was ineffective.
The implications of these findings for reversal theory, therapy, and future research were discussed. The results of these studies show that people like highly reversible people.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:O'Connor, Pauline Roberta
Copyright Holders: The Author
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Copyright 1992 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
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