Effect of Age on Dogmatic Traits
Sponsored by Missouri Western State University Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation DUE-97-51113
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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
KELSEY, P. L., & Neumann, M.E. (2004). Effect of Age on Dogmatic Traits. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 7. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved April 25, 2017 .

Effect of Age on Dogmatic Traits
PUGH L. KELSEY & MARGARET E. NEUMANN
Missouri Western State University DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (cronk@missouriwestern.edu)
ABSTRACT
The purpose of this study was to determine if becoming more dogmatic is really a result of aging, we wanted to see if people’s beliefs and opinions really do become more concrete or set in stone as they grow older. We believe that people do become more dogmatic as they grow older. For the method, there were 60 participants who were recruited by convenience sampling to participate in our study. We used an original dogmatism scale that consists of twenty Likert type statements. Our scale is based off the Short Dogmatism Scale by R. H. Schulze. The scale is a paper and pencil survey that contains some reverse rating statements. The higher the score on the scale, the more dogmatic the participant is. After the data were collected, the responses from the participants who are forty-six and older were compared to the responses of the participants who are forty-five and younger to see if there was a difference in dogmatic traits. The statistical findings showed that subjects were not significantly different on their dogmatism scores based on their ages. The conclusions of this study showed our hypothesis of dogmatism increasing with age was not supported. Further studies may include a closer look at gender differences, political views, along with geographic origins using the same method to find some correlation with dogmatism traits.

INTRODUCTION
Growing older is something that happens to everyone. As people grow older many things happen to them, whether it be physically, mentally, or socially. As you grow older your metabolism may slow down, you may notice wrinkles starting to form, you may realize that you are not able to do some of the things you could do five years ago, you may even notice that your general beliefs are becoming more concrete. As people learn from their many experiences throughout their lives, they form beliefs and opinions based off of those experiences. People become more closed-minded or dogmatic after having learned from their lives “the way things go”. Many studies show that as people age, they become more dogmatic or their beliefs and opinions on things become more “set in stone”. Although there do seem to be many factors that could attribute to becoming more dogmatic, age appears to be a major, common factor. Schmitz (1985) administered German versions of the Rokeach Dogmatism Scale (DS) to 224 males and 372 females, 16-77 years of age in one study, and administered the same scale to 299 male and 363 female college students in another study. The analysis of variance showed no difference between males and females in DS scores; however, the mean scores for the different education and age levels where significantly different. A comparison of these findings with other German studies indicated that sociobiographical variables such as educational level, sex, and age exhibit an average relationship with closed mindedness, as measured be the DS. In a study done by Enright, et al (1983) the development of belief discrepancy reasoning, or how people evaluate disagreeing others, was examined with forty-four college and elderly respondents. Results showed the elderly were significantly lower in belief discrepancy reasoning and higher in dogmatism than the college sample. Let it be noted that the elderly sample did not evidence intolerance, but rather relativism. Steininger (1975) found that within 159 high school students, 125 introductory psychology students, and 59 senior psychology majors who answered a questionnaire measuring dogmatism and derogation of others, the “derogatory” items tended to decrease with age, while dogmatism tended to increase with age.On the other hand, Cryns and Wilderom (1985) argue that while it is widely held that as people age they tend to become more rigid in their perceptive and evaluative behaviors, research supporting this contention is scarce and dated. One of the most basic research questions to be posed is how much actual variation exists in the psychological rigidity of flexibility of the aged and how different it is from that of other age cohorts. It is concluded that the specific prejudice toward old people as authoritarian, dogmatic, and rigid should be removed or replaced by a generic rejection of the authoritarian syndrome. It is for this reason that the behavior features of the aged should be more specified and be made observable.What we wanted to find out now is if becoming more dogmatic is really a result of aging. We wanted to see if people’s beliefs and opinions really do become more concrete or set in stone, as they grow older. We believe that people do become more dogmatic as they grow older. We wanted to see what happens when people of various ages are given a questionnaire based off a dogmatism scale. We looked to prove our hypothesis by showing that participants in the forty-six and over group do score higher on our dogmatism scale. By doing this study we hoped to find that age really is a major factor in the development of becoming more dogmatic or more firmly set in their beliefs.


METHOD

PARTICIPANTS
There were 60 participants who were recruited by convenience sampling to participate in our study. The participants were selected from two mid-sized cities in the state of Missouri. We were looking at the differences between older and younger generations, so we attempted to get a sufficient number of participants for each group. The confidentiality of the participants was upheld.

MATERIALS
We used an original dogmatism scale that consists of twenty Likert type statements (see Appendix). Our scale is based off the Short Dogmatism Scale by R. H. Schulze (1962). The scale was a paper and pencil survey that contained some reverse rating statements. For example if someone agreed with one statement, they may receive a coding of four, but if they agree with another statement they would receive a coding of one. The higher the score on the scale, the more dogmatic that participant is.

PROCEDURE
Participants were asked to fill out the survey with the understanding that the information is confidential. They were also asked to answer four demographic questions at the end of the survey; those being age, religion, educational level and gender. We had the participants return the survey at their convenience. After the data were collected, the responses from the participants who are forty-six and older were compared to the responses of the participants who are forty-five and younger to see if there was a difference in dogmatic traits.


RESULTS
An independent-samples t test was calculated comparing the mean dogmatism score of subjects who were young (forty-five and younger) to the mean score of subjects who were older (forty-six and older). No significant difference was found (t(58) = -.50, p> .05). The mean of the younger group (m = 45.63, sd = 4.22) was not significantly different from the mean of the older group (m = 46.23, sd = 5.03). The difference between dogmatism and age is shown in Figure 1.


DISCUSSION
It seems that there does not seem to be a difference in dogmatism scores between our two groups of ages. There was only one point difference in the mean scores between the two age groups. This is not what we wanted to find. Although based on the literature we found on age and dogmatism that the results could go either way, these were definitely not the results that we had expected to find. We had thought there would be a significant difference in scores between the two age groups. It appears there a few things we could have done differently to improve the quality of our study. We could have recruited larger groups to fill out our survey. We also could have used a more specific survey. Our survey was pretty general in terms of the questions it had, our questions could have been more concrete and specific. In terms of our survey, we also could have used a different scale. We had made up our questions based off another scale, we could have used exact questions to be sure of the reliability of our scale. We also could have operationally defined dogmatism in more clear terms when we were drafting our survey. We do not believe that our findings have much external validity. We think that there were too many factors that confounded our data. We should have factored in more characteristics other than age into our data in order to find a correlation. In addition, it appears that our results will not generalize to other studies of the same nature, again we believe this could have been avoided with a better dogmatism scale. We do believe that the subject of the effect of age on dogmatism is important and further research should be done. Other factors should be looked at to determine what, if any, effect age has on dogmatism. We think that gender differences, political views, and geographic origins are some factors that should also be examined to find if there is any effect of age on dogmatism.


REFERENCES
Cryns, A.G., & Wilderom, C.P. (1985). Authoritarianism/dogmatism as a function of age: A relevant yet forgotten area of research. High School Journal, 68, 424-428.Enright, R.D., et al. (1983). Belief discrepancy reasoning in the elderly. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 17, 213-221.Schmitz, P.G. (1985). Sociocultural and personality differences in the dimension of the open and closed mind. High School Journal, 68, 348-364.Schulze, R.H. (1962). Short dogmatism scale. Journal of Psychological Studies, 13, 93-97.Steininger, M. (1975). In pursuit of a dogmatism factor: Derogation or alienation? Psychological Reports, 37, 1041-1042.


APPENDIX
Please do not skip any of the statements, and answer each statement to the best of your ability.

1.) Once an idea is in my head, I stick with it.

Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree 2.) My own personal beliefs seem to be more right than others.

Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree

3.) I am open to hear others opinions and let them at least try to change my mind. Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree

4.) I would rather agree with someone, even though I know they are wrong, just because we share a similar opinion.

Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree

5.) Nobody should have beliefs or opinions so strong that they are not willing to change them. Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree

6.) I consider someone to be ignorant when they do not share my opinion or belief.

Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree

7.) My outlook on life is based on my personal opinions and beliefs.

Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree

8.) I believe what evidence backs up, no matter what I believed previously.

Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree

9.) Even with evidence against my belief or opinion, I still do not change my mind.

Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree

10.) There is no complete set of beliefs that satisfy my way of life.

Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree

11.) I am willing to hear both sides before setting my opinion.

Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree

12.) When my friends say something is true, and it is against my beliefs, I will change my mind to agree with them.

Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree

13.) In a debate, I do not bother to consider the validity of the other side.

Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree

14.) I accept that many or at least some of my beliefs and/or opinions may be wrong.

Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree

15.) I am constantly changing my opinions or beliefs.

Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree

16.) I often disassociate from people who disagree with me.

Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree

17.) I feel I am flexible towards the beliefs or opinions of everyone else.

Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree

18.) Eventually my beliefs and opinions will become outdated and I will change them.

Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree

19.) My beliefs and opinions will never be changed.

Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree

20.) When someone asks me a question, I tell them my opinion, not what is necessarily true.

Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree


Figure 1

Submitted 4/28/2004 10:46:19 AM
Last Edited 5/4/2004 9:13:46 AM
Converted to New Site 03/09/2009

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