Skip to main content

Full text of "ERIC ED124861: A Developmental Analysis of Set Patterns in Children: A Normative Study."

See other formats


POCOMEHT BESOM?- 

i - CG 010 "651 

Janzeiir Henry L, ; And Others 

A Developmental Analysis bf Set Patterns in Children: 
A Normative Study, ' 
Jan 76 

33p,; Paper presented at the Annual Heeti^ng of the 
American Educational Research Association/ (San 
Francisco y California r April 19-23, 1976) ^ 

MP-$0,83 HC-$2-06 Plus Postage, 

Age Differences; ♦Childre)[i; Cognitive DeveloJ)ment; 
Elementary Education; *Haptic Perception; *learning 
Modalities; ^Haturation; Physiology; Problem Solving r 
♦Psycho^ducational Processes; Psychological Patterns; 
Psychological Studies 



The main problem, of this study was to examine the set 
characteristics of children at various age levels. Subjects were 
observed according to their ease of excitability and extinction in 
the haptic and visual modalities. Set patterns were examined at 
different age levels to determine if there was any trend from one age 
to another. The findings support those of Dznadze's in that 
excitability is a distinguishing feature in all children. Although 
the subjects did not vary in rate of excitation haptically and 
visually r there were significantly different rates in the number of 
trials it took before extinction took place. The data indicate that, 
as subjects increase in age, there is a drop in the number of 
assimilative illusions in both modalities. The study demonstrated 
that. there are significant age differences in the way children 
develop and maintain sets,, particularly in the haptic modality. The 
study suggests that the development of set has little meaning outside 
the context of the physiology of the nervoi^s system and its relation 
to maturation and the learning of cognitive operations, (SJL) 



ED 124 861 

AUTHOR 
TITLE 

PUB DATE 
NOTE 



EDRS PRICE 
.DESCRIPTORS 



ABSTRACT 



* Documents acquired by ERIC include many informal unpublished * 

* materials not available from other sources, ERIC makes every effort * 

* to obtain the best copy available. Nevertheless^ items of marginal * 

* reproducibility are often encountered and this affects the quality * 

* of the microfiche and hardcopy reproductions ERIC makes available * 

* via the ERIC Document Reproduction Service (EDRS) , EDRS is not * 

* responsible for the quality of the original document. Reproductions * 

* supplied by EDRS are the best that can be made from the original, * 

************ *********** 




A Developiiaental Analysis of Set 
Patterns in Children; A Normative 
Study. 



Henry L. Janzen 

Department of Educational Psychology 
University of Alberta 
Edmonton, Alberta 



Thomas 0.. Maguire, Chairman 
Department of Psychological Foundations 
University of Victoria 
Victbria, B.C. 



Fredieric J. Boersma 

Department of Educational Psychology 

University of Alberta 

Edmppton, Alberta 



\ U S DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, 

EDUCATION & WELFARE 
' NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF 
EDUCATION 

TKIS , DOCUMENT HAS BEEN REPRO- 
DUCED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED FROM 
THE PER SDN OR ORG ANt 2 AT ION OR! GIN* 
ATjnC IT PDINT-S OF VIEW OR OF^INIONS 
STAtf D DO NOT NECESSARILY REPRE- 
SENT OFFICIAL NATlDNAL INSTITUTE OF 
EDUCATION POSITION OR POLICY 



January, 1976 



SET AS A FACTOR IN DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY 

N ■ ■ 

History ' 

Uznadze, as early as 1923, became interested in the experimental 
work of Fechner, Muller and Schupann (Uznadze, 1939). They found that when 
a subject is instructed to successively lift a pair of objects differing 

H 

in weight, he will later perceive tWo equal weighted objects as unequal. 
The object In the hand whJ^ch previously held the lighter object will seem 
heavier than the object in the other hand. Uznadze called the results ex- 
amples of illusions of- weight (Uznadze, 1961) . 

CI 

Uznadze was also interested in the work of Watt and Ach. Watt 
experimentally investigated the role of task set in thinking. A subject was 
first presented verbally with a task and then, after a short time interval, 
with a word stimulus. The subject gave a response to the stimulus and an 
introspective report of his experience. Watt concluded that the^xask set 
for Aufgabe influenced the response. He further noted that set was effective 
when the subject was aware of getting ready , "practiced the jtask and responded 
correctjjig (Humphrey , 1951) . 

Ach was also interested in Aufgabe. He noted that a task lea^s 
to an Einstellung or set which acts as a, determining tendency. That is, the 

taak establishes a set in the individual which in, turn determines the nature 

/' 

/ 

of the response (^ch, 1951). / 

Uznadze continued to investigate Einstellung and illusion, saying: 

" • ■ I 

...the concept of relative set — was one I formulated twenty- five years 

ago... from thkt time until the present, this idea has been continuously 

and logically developed. Progress became particularly rapid after my 

pupils and colleagues began to take part in its development (Uznadze, 

1966). ^ 

\ 

The sectionlj which follow deal with Uznadze 's formulations of set. 



Set as a Factor In Activity 

Uznadze (1961) described set as Ijthe phenomenon In which prior 
events or activity conditions a subject ^ perceive or react to stimuli 
(which follow in a particular mantier. Fu^jbthermore, the behavior of a living 
being presupposes the following condltl/ms: a need, a situation, and a 
basic l^vel of perception (Uznadze, 19f/l) . 
Pranglshvill adds: 

Thus set-- since it is seen op be, essentially, in thte nature of 
disposition to a definite fopn of response, which implies a 
definite form of psychological organization of the subjects 
^ "inner milieu*'-— may justifiably be regarded as the genetal 

characteristic of the subject's Integrate state, i«^-> of his 
personality and not of the fixity or rigidity of his) behavlor- 
Thls pre-orlentedness (as Evinced in set) toward a die^flnlte 
activity is obviously — since preparednaps for response is 
an Integral part of actlvl :y — to be seaji as manifestation of^ 
his oneness of activity an 1 personality^. *Set is not |)rlmarlly 
the "resultant of behavior," but the precondition of . the very 
feasibility of purposeful adaptive behavior. It is bet — under- 
lying as it does and triggering einergent activity — tjiat constitutes 
the psychological content of the interaction of the jtwo 
determlnantSr of behavior'; a concrete n^ed and a situation for 



its gratification (Prangls 
The model of behavior that 
relationship between the individual 
Uznadze 's set is similar to Plaget' 
the cycle between accommodation to t 
environment to an Internal schema (B 
Uznadze defines needs as all 



ivili, 1966). 

Uznadze preselnts is that of a dynamic 
and his envlrpnment • Xn this, 
concept of adaptation which Involves 
le environment! and assimilation of the 
halava, 1965)1 

states of thelpsychophyslcal organism 



which are concerned with the changindj of the envirctoment , providing Im- 
pulses indispensable for the aim of activity (Uznadze, 1961). His concept 



/ of need is similar to that of Pribram 
(1959), who think of individuals as h 
environment. 



(1964), Skinner (1953), and White 
ivlng a need to act on the 



There are two basic types of needs, the substantial needs and the 
functional needs (Uznadze, 1961). The substantial needs are synonymous 
with the viscerogenic needs or drives and the functional needs refer to 
the neurogenic motives as studied by Berlyne (1960) , Bruner (1966), Hebb 
(1955), and White (1959). Uznadze (3-961), also refers to one additional 
class of needs, the cognitive needs; these he considers to be elaborations 
of the substantial needs or drives. 

Uznadze (1961) explicitly states that the Substantial needs 

are not the sole or the most important source of motivation, except in tile 

very young organism. He states that the functional and theoretical 

needs are more characteristic of human motivation. Thiis position ±^ 

similar to that of Allport who states: 

If biological drive plays a part (thirst, hunger, sex), it 
does so not as the motive, but merely as an irritable state 
of bodily tissues set within an intricate and personalized 
psychophysical system (Allport^ 1961) . 

As for the functional needs, Uznadze views^ man as a continuously 
active organism who is curious about his environment and engages in 
activity for its own sake. Uznadze (1961) conceives of the functional 
needs as a set to activity which has arisen during the course of phylo- 
genetic evolution and which is charact^i^tic of the higher primates. The 

y ■ / 

biological significance of motivation/is also stressed by White (1959). 

A similar position with regard to ino^vation has received support in recent 

Western literature (Berlyne, 1960; Hetb, 1949, 1958; Pribram, 1964). 

Man also lives in a aocio-historico^cultural context. In his 
sei^rch for satisfaction- of his substantial needs, man, in his inter- 
action with others, is often confronted with situations in which his needs 
are unsatisfied. In proBlem situations such as these he is faced then 



' . - H 

with the quest;lon of what to do and how to do It In order to satisfy 
••his needs. He must bring Into consciousness the situation which has pro- 
vlded the problem; this is the process of objectivization* At this 
elementary level cognitive needs emerge. As th^organlsm develops and 
internalizes more of his environment , including culture, the intellectual 
or problem-solving attitude becomes established in its own right and 
forms the basis of interest in theoretical probl^s which have no immediate 
reference to reality (Uznadze, 1961). The formulation has some features 

similar to Allport's functional autSntmy (Allport, 1961, 1955) • 

/ 

Set, although an internal condition requisite for the development 
of mental phenomena, is itself a factor which arises out of the inter- 
action of the individual, with his environment. Because of the importance 
of environment, Uznadze also emphasizes the importance of the second basic 
f condition for the emergence of activity, that of the situation (Uznadze, 
1961)- 

The Problem of Obiectlvlzatlon 

Uznadze distinguishes two possible levels of human behavior 
(Uznadze, 1958). The first plane is th6 level of impulsive actions in 
which man is stimulus bound, responding directly to a given situation. 
The second plane of behavior gives man increasing Independence of 
response from the Immediate nature of the stimulus. This level of intellect- 
ual behavior is associated with the phenomenon of objectlvlzatlon ' 
(Uznadze, 1958). The first plane is characteristic of all animals and 
might be associated with Pavlov's first signal System; the second plane, 
which might be associated with Pavlov's second signal system, is peculiar 
to man whereby behavior becomes regulated by man's cognitive structure. 

Uznadze' s "lew may be examined in relation to Soviet psychology 

/ 

ERLC 



and philosophy. According to the tenets of dialectical materlaj.lsm the 
mind or pslkhlka Is a function of highly organized matter, In this case, 
of the brain. This organization consists of the reflections of objective 
reality In the form of sensations, Ideas, thought, and the like; the 
reflection constitutes the subjective world of man (Shorokhova, 1966). 
In Dznadze's theory It Is through the act d$ objectlvizatlon that the 
subjective world of man or his model of reality comes, to approximate 
more and more objective reality. In essence, then, objectlvizatlon is 
concerned with the^successive approximaCions of the subjective representa- 
tion to objective reality. This implies that there are degrees of 
consciousness of reality. The more accurate the subjective model of 
reality and the wider the scope of reflection of reality, the greater 
is the degree of consciousness. 

The plane of Intellectual behavior established through objectivlz- 
latlon develops out of the first plane. In the first plane, set in man 
responds directly to his environment. Whenever there is jfi^ disruption in 
tlhe activity of this kind of set, a problem situation emerges which 
florces the individual to attend to the situation. In other words, when 
S2t realization is retarded, the individual becomes aware of the 
r jtardatlon in the flow of behavior and turns to the act of ^bjectlvlz- 
a:lon. As Uznadze (1966) says, there emerge the questions, "What is 
tills?" "Why is this so?" "What would happen if things were different?" 
with the emergence of the problem comes also an imagined situation to 
slolve it, the result of which is the appearance of a definite s^t. "Every 
separate act. of thought arises from the base of this set and represents 

separate case of its realization (Uznadze, 1961)." Consequently, thought 
tlows on the basis of objectivlzation in which set plays an important role. 



Through the development of cognitions by means of objectlvizatlon, there 
emerges a neW stratxmf'of set In man which determines and defines his be- 
havlor« Since objectivization is accomplished by use of language and since 
a word represents a speeific sphere of reality, words become a powerful 
tool in defining man's subjective representation of reality (Luria, 1961; 
Oznadze, 1961, Vygot$ky , 1962). Vygotsky (1962) has pointed out that a 
word Is a microcosm of human cons dousnesa^. This places great importanee 
on words in man's existence • Consequently, by means of language man can 
imagine problem situations, possible solutions and develop a definite 
set to activity without Recourse to reality. Through objectivizatidn man 
is capable of logical calculus, of performing operations upon operations 
(Piaget, 1950), and thereby\ organizing his knowledge of reality <Ausubel, 
1965). 

Methods o£ Set Experimentation 

The basic method for khe investigation of a fixed set consists 
in the following. A subject devijlops a need to solve an experimental 
problem presented to him, for example, to indicate which of two spheres 
given to him apglaars larger. TwoW^eres of e^ual weight but of unequal 
size are presented for short perioie to the blindfolded subject. The 
spheres arc^ placed one in each hand \f or a brief moment, that is, the 
larger sphere in the right hand and the smaller sphere in the left hand. 
The first exposure to the \in,equal objebts, called the set tests, results 
in a set arising in each case, a set to\ the evaluation of a "larger" or 
a "smaller" sphere. Following these set\ tests, say in the eleventh trial, 
the .unequal spheres are replaced by two ecual spheres and the subject is 
.asked to identify them. This test is desiWated the critical test. 
The critical test diiscloses the presence oflafiLxed set developed in 



accordance with the preceding set tea since the subject qtvaluates one 
of the two spheres of equal size as "larger" or "smaller". i The test 
reveals the presence of a preparation for a definite activity, that isi 
a set (Uznadze, 1958). 

One may teat for the minimum or the maximum number of trials 

required for set fixation. For example, a subject is presented twfce 

with unequal spherea* ' On the third trial he da given equal spheres* If 

the equal spheres appear unequal, the subject has developed a set. In 

two trials are required to establish an illusion; this is the, minimum 

number of trials required for set fixation. An experimenter may also 

test for maximum set trials. The subject is again presented* with equal 

and unequal Spheres. He is given the equal spheres for several trials, 

that is, until he perceives, the equal spheres as equal. At one time, 

the subject may require 10 trials to perceive the spheres as unequal. 

the following day, he may require 15 trials to perceive the spheres as 

unequal; however, the number of illusions he gives is the important 

factor. For example: ,^ 

Day 1 . 10 trials 5 illusions 

Day 2. 15 trials 10 illusions 

Day 3 20 trials 10 illusions 

Day 4 25 trials . 10 illusions 

Thus 15 trials give the maximum number of illusions* 

In the critical tests a subject may experience two types of 

illusions, contrast and assimilative. For example, a contrast illusion 

results when during the critical tests with the equal spheres, the 

sphere is perceived as smaller in the hand in which, during the set 

trials, the larger sphere was placed. If, however, the sphere is 

perceived as larger, an assimilative illusion has developed. The ease 

9 : - 



with which aA Illusion Is formed Is kn^own as the excitability of set ^c: 

(Uznadze, 19^8). 

■ ' 

Fixed and Diffuse Sets ' 

According to Uznadze (1966), the decisive factor In the formation 
of fixed sets Is the repetition of identical situations. When an Individual 
meets a similar situation at some later time, the fixed set rather than a 
new set enables one to react In a specific manner. Once a set Is activated, 
it does not disappear but remains ready ^to be activated wh6n similar 
conditions arise. However, the state of preparedness is not always the 
same; the more firmly the set is fixed, the stronger will be its power 
of activation. 

Diffuse sets are usually formed in the initial staged of set 
development. When a set is produced for the, first time, it ii3 in a 
comparatively Undif fer^tiated, unindividualized state. To bec9me 
differentiated, repeat presentation of appropriate stimuli are necessary; 
therefore, set fixation also involves degrees of differentiation (Uznadze, 
1958) . . 
Set and the Nervous System 

Set as a concept in Western Psychology has had a rich and varied 
history, bu*t with virtually no consensus as to its nature. Only Postman 
(1951) and Bruner (1951, 1949) have used set as amajor construct In 
their theory of human functioning, but they too havis used other kinds 
of descriptive categories. 

In western literature, set has been given the definition of (1) 
primarily a physiological state (Freeman, 1939); as a proprioceptive 
feedback to the CNS; or (2) as an inhibitory mechanism arising from 



the development of habitual behavior patterns (LuchlltJs^ 1942, 1966) 
which Interfere with ongoing* activity. ' ^ . 

Cognitive definitions form another body of research. Objects 
related to needs took on a determining factor directing activity. Harlow© 
talked about learning sets. These were organizational mechanisms. - 
conceptual transformations that allowed one to respond to the environment 
to the significant cues only. 

From the physiological to the cognitive Interpretation, early 
definitions gave set as a precurser to behavior, but which, in general, 
inhibited behavior rather than facilitated behavior. Uznadze's theory ' 
was a comprehensive explanation of the genesis of human activity, with 
the concept of set , at the core. 

An Individual performing certain actions with the aim of satis- 
fying some/of. his needs shows certain observable characteristics- He 
will selectively perceive the objects of the surrounding environment;, . 
soly^ the arising tasks, and perform corresponding actions. What is not 
readily observed is that initially he was inclined to accomplish the above 
mentioned actions^. His behavior does not start with a tabula rasa, nor 
does it begin immediately following a stimulus. Action is always pre- 
ceded by a definite state of the subject. This definite state if , the 
levelof the subjects readiness of his psychophysical powers and abilities 
to accomplish the given behavioral act. This readiness, or set as we 
call it, mediates between the stimulus and action and thereby determines 

» 

the action. 

In theory, the nature of set is involved on three dimensions 
(from Herzog and Unruh, 1973): 



ERIC 



" V 10 

(1) properties of set can be traced to coristltutldnal or ' 
genetic factors, intrinsic to the CNS. This eacplanation 
is traceable to Gestalt Ps/'chology and more recently 
dominant in modern psycholinguistic theory, 

(2) properties of set emerge in the maturation of the organism 
which influence the set properties. These maturation 

[ factors Influence set which can ha conditioned by learnln^^ 

or can be changed due to maturation of the intrinsic ^ 
properties. This is the case in flte developmental psychology 
of Piaget. 

(3) set arises as a result of learning whether S-R, or S-§^ 
learning. Here, cultural factors play a large role. Tb^^^^ 
position has merit because of its obvious .implications I 

for the educational process. 
However, if one accepts the cp^nitive stance, then information-* 
processing and its relation to set becomes important. From tfte early / 
theories of Pavlov we learned about three basic nervous system types, 
based on four types of c<^cbr^l hemispheres. First we 'have the Central 
type (stable, calm, lively); second the strong nervous system (where the 
inhibitory process is Weak); third the WEAK nervous system (where there 
is a predominancy of inhibition). The capacity of the individual to • 
process information was directly dependent on the &ipacity of the nervous 
system to react rapidly to changes in the environment. Physiologically, 
nervous system type was based on the speed of change from excitability 
to inhibition, speied of irradiation, and the speed of disappearance of a 
stiumlus. 

• * ■• 



The strength of the nervous system was dependent on factors, then, 
such as excitation, Inhibition, and equilibrium. For example, the WEAK 
nervous system had a higher threshold of concentratlpn of excitation and 
a lower threshold of irradiation of excitation. The STRONG nervous system 
had a greater concentration of excitation. The .weak nervous system was 
easily inhibi table whereas the strong nervous system is not so easily 
inhibitable. Therefore, under experimental situations of distraction, 
the weak nervous system could not ignore distracting stimuli, whereas the 
strong nervous system could. 

' This physiologicatl approach to analyzing the phenomenon of set 
has produced very few substantive research evidence. There is some evi- 
dence that changing sets do change basic autonomic nervous system measures 
such as (1> hand skin temperature, (2) distolic blood pressure, (3) / 
heart rate and (4) respiration rate. In other words, the intrinsic or 
constitutional factors do seem to, be of central importance to behavior. 
Our research has taken the position that sets serve the organism as an 
internal support in the processing of viaual and haptic information. 
Fixed Set in Children 

The research on set iti children as carried out by Uznadze is 

rather limited. There is ho one in the Uznadze Institute .currently study- 

* -. > . • -■■ 

ing set changes in children. The following literature is a brief review 
of Uznadz^'s, work with children. 

Uznadze (1966) found that excitability was the main feature of 
the preschool period. In ' 80% of {freschbol children^ investigated, set 
appeared after a single exposure. Assimilative illusions were! observed 

In 60% of the cases, and contrast illusion in 20% of the chil^dren. 

. „ ' - ' .V - . . ■ ;y - 



When the number of fixation trials is increased to 4, the 
number of assimiliatlve illusions drpps to 25^^ When fixation trials 
Increase to 15, contrast illusions Increase to 80%. Uznadze suggests 
that the optimal number of fixing trials in preschool age should be 
regarded as 15 rather than 4. Thus the excitability of set in pre- 
school children is high with a lower threshold not greater than 1 w hile 
the optimal not greater than 15. 

Turning to school age, the coefficient of excitability of 

' * ■» ' ^ * ■ . 

set begins to r|ge higher* However, the coefficient does not move 
appreciably away ffpm the indices of the preschool age imtil the age 
of 11 years. After the age of 11 up tg the age of 15, there Is a definite 
fall in the values of excitability indices. Fxom ages 15 to 17, the 
indices of excitability show a definite increase. Thus Uznadze found high 
excitability in the preschool period, somewhat lower until the age of 
11 years, then falls sharply ^12 to 14 years) then rises again between 
15 and 17 years. Uznadze makes no attempt to explain his findings, tiar 
could we find replication studies since 1966. This lack of evidence 
on set patterns in children led to our current study* 
Prob lem ^ . 

The main problem in this study was to examine the set character- 
istics of children at various age levels. Subjects were observed accordijng 
to their ease of excitabilitfy and extinction in the haptlc and visual 
nQdalities. Set patterns were examined at different age levels to determine 
if ther^ was any trend from one age to another. Since this is the first 
study of this type in the West, very little could be hypothesized or 
predicted.^ The only work available in this area was the brief description 
given by U^padze. Hxs somewhat sketchy description mentioned only the N 



changes in excitability among children In various age levels, k 

METHOD Ali) PROCEDUKE 

Subjects 

Four ^hundred children from Edmonton, Alberta, participated in 
the study. Fifty children (25 girls and 25 boys) were tested at each 
of eight age levels ( 5 years to 12 years). The children were tandomly 
selected from four elementary schools in the city qf Edmonton. All 
schools were from middle-class socio-economic areas.' 
Ins trumen ts 

^ ' . . ■■ . 

1. A tachistoscope, mbdel V-0959T. 

2. *Two slides. One slide with two circles; a right circle 
% 30 mm in diameter and a left circle, 15 mm in diameter. 

The second slide contained two cllrcles, ^ach 22.5 mm In 
diameter. Each circle consisted of a black line on a 
white background, • 

3. Three wooden spheres xd.th handles. ' One sphere was 
100 mm in diameter, the other two were each 70 mn in 
diameter. The weights of each of the spheres was 300 
grams. , 

PROCEDURE *^ 
The subject was seated on a (fhair in front of the tachisto- 
scope facing the experimenter who would give Instructions. The sub- 
ject's name, grade level, sex, birthdate and testing date W6re thfen 
recorded. The set taskq always occurred firsthand the same basic 
instructions were alw^yk used* The haptic set tasks occurred first. 



The instructions were: ♦ 

1. "I am going to put a ball in j^ach of |rour hands. I want you 
to squeeze them, then let ^o and tell me which hand had the 
larger ball." \ 

(Younger subjects were tpld to lift the Jiand that had* the 
larger ball if they could not distinguish which hand was 
their left or right). ^ 

2. "I don' t want^ou to look at the basils so I i/ant you to\close 

■ ^ ; ' • >-f*v 

your eyes and I'll put a blindl'oX^ on you." • 

3. "Remeinl|d? to sq\ueeze the ball?^,^ ^hen let go and tell me which 
hand had the larger ball by saying left or right or if they • 
,felt the same size. / ?^ 

Two presentations of the unequal spheres were given, the' 
larger sphere placed in the rl|ght hand. ' Then one trial with 
the equal sphered was given. If the subject established an 
illusion by saying one of the equal sized spheres was larger, 
presentation of the equal spheres continued until the sub^ 
Ject responded that they were equal five consecutive pre- 
sentations or a total of thirty-one presentations were given. 
If the subject did not establish an illusion, three more 
^v^^ptesentatibns of the unequal spheres were given again followed 
by one presentation of the equal spheres. If the subject 
did not then establish an illusion, five presentations of 
the unequal spheres were given followed by one presentation"^ 
of. the equal spheres. If the subject did not .establish an 
illusion no more presentations of the spheres were given. 



The subject's responses were recorded on a prepared data 
sheet as left, right or equal. 
4. The. blindfold then removed from the subject* 

The following Ins trubtions were given for testing for visual 
set. ' . \ 

1. "You did very wel|, on that, now this time I am going to 
flasti pictures of circles on a screen at the back of this 
box" (Referring to the tachls to scope) • 

2. "This is just like before, I want you to tell me which circle 
is larger, the one on the left or the one on the right, or 

if they are ^e same size." . (lounger subjects were Instructed 
to lift their hand indicating which side the larger circle- 
was on, or bothhande for equal). 

The subject was then positioned so that they would comfortably 
fit the face guard on the tachistoscope. AH exposures were 

timed. ^ 

RESULTS 

The average age for each group of subjects is shgwn in Table 1. 
In addition, the number of subjects who excited and extinguished is 
shown for each modality ancf each age level. 

: In the set tests, excitation occurred more readily in the haptic 

modality than in the visual modality. In each modality a relatively 
larger number of subjects excited at age 5 than at age 6. Although the 
differences between the high and low points were not significant in the 
case of the haptic modality, both curves followed a^rough "U-shape" with 
higher levels of excitation occurring at 5 and 12 than at ages in 



i 



17 



between. Th^s finding is in contrast to Uznadze^s which suggested a 
rapid fall ILn the vicinity of 12 years. 

ie proportion of subjects who extinguished at each age level 

shows no i^lear trend in the visual mode, with values ranging from .6 at 

if 

age 11 t«l .89 at age 9. In the haptic mode, the proportion sizes from 

I ' ^ • 

around iS in the early ages to about .6 i)f'-the 9-12 age range. In other 

words Y in the haptic mode, oldet children appear to find dLt easier to 

extingtj^ish the set. * 

At all ages, the. number of excitations in the visual modality is 

signljf icantly lower than in the haptic modality. ^4 

In Table 2, data are provided on sex differences in excitation 

in Mhe two modes. Within each mode, at 6^ch age]ev<&l, there were ^np 

significant differences between the proportion of S^^^^ and the piro- 

/rtion of boys who excited. , ^ ^ 

V •, . . " - 

A significantly higher proportion (p<.05) of subjects excited in 
he haptic modality (.91) than in the visual modality 58) . 

When the number of trials required for set fixation is examined, 
(Table 2) it is interesting td note that in the haptic modality, aost sub- 
jects fixate after two trials. Ten trials were seldom necessary. In the 
visual modality, many subjects required five and ten trials to excite a 
set. Again, there were no sex differences in excitation. 

The extinction data were clustered into thr^e groups. The 
first group consists of subjects who extinguished within ^the first 
five trials. The second group is made up of subjects who extinguished in 
six to thirty trials.* The final group is composed of subjects who did 
not extinguish. The subjects who did not excite were excluded from the 
analysis of the extinction d^ta. The results of the extinction analysis 

■ 19 : 



18 



00 Cn «H ««t CO 
,H ,H tH f-r tH 



s 



m 

tH 

(d 



fl- 
it 

U 
H 



C7t cn 



in m in in 



o 
H 



M CO tH CO 



fsi in M 



M m «n , 



o 
H 



<y CM oi«^ «H m (H m 

CACMffHCM. C4MCMCM 



tH ' 

m 



.H CO CO CO M 



CB4 



u 
H 



00 O 0 ^* OV tH 

tHCMtHMtHtHtHCM 



o 

H 



tH 



CO 
CM 



u 

CM 



CM 



CM 



•CM 



CM 



tn CM CO tH 



tH C7I 00 
CM tH tH 



o% o 

tH CM 



tH CM CO 
CM CM CM 



vo 00 a\ o 

fH 



00 

in 



I 

H 



<m|«^ 



00 

in 



] o 
hIcm 



I 



Ho 

H)CM 
I 

H 



ON o 
00 o 
•HI CM 



O 



colp 
col^a- 



+ 
X 



2 



are shown for each age group in Table 3. 

In the hap tic molality the tPSt of independence indicates a 
significant difference among age groups. The younger children tended 
to take longer to extinguish the set than did the older children. In 
the visual mode, the pattern of trials to extinction seems relatively 
constant across age levels. 

Also shown on Table 3 are the cross tabulations of age with 
number of contrast and assimilation illusions. For both illusion 
variables the data have been clustered. In choosing the intervals an 
attempt was made to have least 40 in each interval. This accounts 
for the differences in interval boundaries between haptic contrast 
illusions and visual contrast illusions. 

The x2 test w4s significant for both contrast and assimilation 
illusions in the haptic modality. It may be that this result arises 
from significant differences in the number of trials to extinction. 
Clearly if one age group takes longer to extinguish it has more oppor- 
tunity to have more illusions. 

In order to describe the relationship between age and number of 
illusions unconfounded by the length of time required to extinguish, 

the data were broken down into three groups according to the number of 

"i 

trials required to extinguish the set: 0-5. trials, 6-30 trials, and 
no extinction after 30 trials* The cross tabulations are qhown in 
Table 4 . for theS.atter two groups. (Those subjects extinguishing In less 
than 5 trials "Were disregarded in the analysis inasmuch as they could 
have 0-5 illusions). 



TABLE 3 '\ 
Extinction and Illusion Data For \ 
Ages 5-12 



20 



Trisls To Extinction' 



Ate 



Huniber of Contrast* 
Illusions 



Hunber of 
Assimilation Illusions 









Do Not Bxfcfcn- 












6-30 
« 




1-5 


6-30 


guish 


0-5 


6-15 


16-30 


0 


1-5 


5 


3 


12 


32 


15 


2? 


10 




/: 


32 


6 


9 


. 2 


32 


9 


13 


21 






16 


7 


A 


7 


32 


6 


15— 


22 




16 


15 


8 


10 


• 9 


26 


15 


11 


19 


19/ 


11 


15 


.9 


10 


19 


16 


18 


17 


10 


zi 


13 


7 


10 


10 


20 


17 


15 


20 


12 


i9 


XI 


7 


11 


12 


15 


16 


18 


13 


14 


23 


14 


8 


12 


11 


17 


20 


18 


16 


14 


33 


8 


7 


X2 


- 45. 


8 p<.001 


X2 - 


26.4 


p<.05 


X2- 


66.4 


p< .001 



VISUAL MODE 



Age 



Trials to Extinction 

Did Hot Extln- 



Hunber of Contrast 
Illusions 



Number of 
Asslidlation Illusions 





1-5 


6-30 


guish 


0-5 


6-iO 


11-31 


0 


1-5 


6-30 


5 


15 


9 


11 


22 


7 


6 


10 


15 . 


10 


6 


13 


4 


9 


19 


4 


3 


16 




6 


7 


17 


i 


7 


20 


2 


3 


10 


9 


6 


8 


15 


5 


8 


20 


' 6 


2 


14 


10 


•4 


9 


15 


. 11 


3 


21 


6 




13 


13 


3 


10 


12 


6 


6 


19 


5 


2 


18 


5 


3 


11 


12 


6 


12 


17 


9 


4 


16 


10 


4 


12 


13 


9 


11 


21 


7 


5 


16 


> 14 


3 



X2 m 18.1 p>.05 



- 8.04 p>.05 



X2 - 20.32 p> .05 



ERLC 




m 



3 



K 



u 

or 



B 



B 
3 
O 
«M 
B 
C 
U 

s 



w a 

4J o 

S 3 



O 

as 



4J 



II 
53 



O 



T3 
B 



h 



m ■ 

60 



O g 



U H 



T3 



O 

n 



o 
n 



so o f** 

W CM CM 



00 SO CM 



3 ;:J 



o r*" CM %o 
\o in en 



CM 

M 



CM 

X 



m O «6 tH 

tH «H CM 



O 

00 



m m n cm 



CM 



i 



n r* CM 

•.7 CM «H «H 



00 

CM fH 
• O 

cn • 
^ V 
I a 

CM 

K 



O CM 
SO fH fH 

|i <j\ ^ 



O 

n 



fH 

CM CM 



fH O CM fH 



7i 



CM 



CM so r» 



CM 

K 



m m m r» 



CM 



O CM 
CO fH fH 

|i J» 



SO 00 

J, ,1 «i. 



O Ol 
•H vH 



O CM 
SO 00 fH fH 
lilt 

»n r» o% fH 



M 

o n 

SB 

u 

£2 



•a ^ 



ERIC 



2r 
0> 



The results of Table 4 suggest that In both modalities, younger 
children have more assimilation illusions than do their older counterparts. 
In both 'modalities there were more contrast illusions than assimilation 
illusions. There was no clear age trend for th^ contrast illusions. 

In Table 5» the relationships between corresponding variables in 
the two modalities is shown. For "TriaLls to Extinction", Number of 

y - - 

Assimilation Illusions » and Number of Contrast Illusions, the^data for 
subjects who d^id not excite have been excluded. For all variables, the 
categories used in Tables 2 and 3 were used to form the contingency 
tables. There are no significant relations between the visual and haptic 
modes on "trials to excitation". At the five year level, subjects yho did 

-ftot-fixti nguish, in -the^ hap^i€- mod e » a lso — tend ed not t o extingu i sh In the; 

visual mode. A similar situation occurred at age eleven. ' 

: I • • • 

The number of assimilation illusions was related over the two 
modalities at ages 8, J.0 and 11, but this was di^e primarily to groups 
of subjects who had no assimilation illusions in either mode. A similar 
explanation applies to the two significant values of Tau for the number 
of contrast illusions. 

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS 
Set theory is old and also very new. Although the, formulations 
took place as early as 1909, there are prob.ably more than 100 individuals 
working in this psychological area. Many important questions remain to be 
answered. Set does exist. However, the conceptjhas interpretations which 
range from the cognitive on one hand, to the physiological on the other. 
Early definitions seemed to emphasize the physiological basis of set 
which might be a precursor of behavior. The general idea in the West has 

24 : 




* 

* * 



>X3 "O 



ERIC 



ro h-» o vo 00 ON ui 



H* o o 

M ON ON 



o 

ON 



O O H» 
ON h-» 



o 

00 



> 

OQ 



rf H» 

03 03 
rr 

o o 



ON 



o 

4S 



o 



N> 
4S 



o 



vo 



O 



O 



O 
4S» 



VO 



O 
4> 




« n 

rr H* 

H* SB 

S3 H* 

O 03 

rr 

H* rr 

§ ° 



d 

03 
H- 
O 
E3 
03 



125 
03 p 

0) O 
rr Hi 

o 

E3 




rr 
O 

03 



03 

H 
03 



(7^ 



o 
o 
n 

H 

n> 

03 

Id 
o 
E3 



E3 

19 

03 



03 
3 



c 

03 



3: 

o 

[D 



23 



been to consider set^as a secondary factor In behavior. No one theory 
has tried to delineate the role of set at various levels of human vtunctlon- 
ing. On the other hand, the- Uznadze concept of set Is more holistic, 
concept, an^probably subsumes many of the Western notions oti set. 



If^n fact, set Is the basis af hum^n (and animal) functioning, 

then one can assume that the nature of set does lot follow any one 

dimension. There is, in fact, a range. t The impulsive level could have 

physiological meanings and the objectlflcatlon level could be considered 

with cognitive psychology. In addition, we not only have to study the 

nervous system and learning sjfeiyictures of individuals, we al$D''l>ave to 

look at the developmental aspects, when the nervous system changes, not 

only because of maturation of the indiyidual, but also 'because of learn- 

« 

Ing. The Change in sets possibly reflect£f the 'Internal" individual change 
of one's own maturation and learning. Vrtiat emerges then la a highly 
individual type of psychological study, probably something that comes* 
very close to our study of individual differences in psychology. 

First, let us look at the prominent features observed from the 
experimental set results Involving the haptic and the visual .modalities. 
The number of trials required for set excitation in the haptic modality 
for all the subjects is relatively small. Probably the emphaQlo on 
manipulation as the iaitial basis for the emergence of set (Uznadze, 1958) 
reinforces the idea of the importance of grasping in the evolution of 
the species, and iik the evolution of the individaui. The iiaportance of 
the manipulatory behavior in ontogenesis Is also a fundamental postulate 
in Piagetian theory. . . 

Excitation of ^et in the visual modality is slower than excitation 



2G. 



. ■ ■ . 25 

In |Sie haptlc modality. Probably the visual modality is hot as highly, 
developed in ontogenesis since the visual modality involves less active. 
Interaction type, participation with the environment as compared with - 
motor manipulation. One would assume that as a ^developmental factor, the 
visual modality becomes a more important factor as a tool for Environ- 
mental interaction, and as one emerges from childhood^ the .visual^modality 
develops as a strong, highly efficient perceptual* tool. This would be 
reflected by a greater loss offset fixation in the visual modality. 
However, experiments show this is not the case. Adults have greater 
difficulty in exciting a set in the visual modality as compared to the 
haptlc modality. • 

Let us next examine the differences among age groups In set 
Illusion and set extinction. l]|nlike Uznadze, who found that one impor- 
tant developmental feature of set was excitation ,^^s^lts in this 
study indicate the important feature is extinction for the hap tic 
modality. For example, in haptic extinction, at ages 5, 6, 7, about 70% 
of those who excited, did not extinguish. At age 10, llj 12, about 40% 
did not extinguish. In the visual modality extinction the trend Is not 
clear. At age 9^ about 70% extinguish, while at ages 5,* 6, and . 12 
only 30-40% extinguish. ■ '• ' \ ^ 

What may be the basis fot^^uciT'resi^^ ^ince one is\^ operatijig 
on the impulsive level., <ine . can assume a physiological base for set, 

mc 



namely the strength and iLoblllty of the nervous system. Towards the 



end of his life, Pavlov^became convinced that the basic properties of 
the nervous system on which the theory of animal types must be based 
were the following three: (1) strength of the nervous processes; 



27 



<2) their mobility; and (3) the"^ balance bejtween processes df. excitation 
and inhiWrttorrr^JLater he believed the .true basic prx)pterties qf the r 
nervous system are the strength and mobility of* the ne^vb^^|^ro cesses. 
By stfengfehT^e meant the capacity fjor.prdlonged maintenance pf cioncen^. 
trated e^icitation without exhibition of inhibition. On the other hand/ . 

fa" " * "■ ■ ■ ; - , 

'the indicek of mo|>ility m^y be: "(1), speed of first develppmerit\^ a 
nervo^us process; (2) speed of movement af nervous sys tern -pro cess; 
(-3) speed of \srr^st of nervous system plrocesses; C^) speed of replacjement 
Qf inhibition^ by' excitation or excitatio^^ by inhibition; (5) speed of 

.formation of new cortnection; and (6) the speed of reaction changes in 

the external conditions.. 

When an individual, is rated as' having great -mobility qr 

strength of nervous process. in the visual region^ does it follow-that he ' 

lAus-t necessarily have great mobility in other regions^ Probably rioti v ^ 

as analysis of vit,al facts lead's on^' to formulate' the hypothesis that in 

addition to the general typological properties characterising the. 

\ . ' ■ ' ' ' ^ « .. . 

nervous system as a whole^ spleeia\L typological properties p.eculiar to- the 

individual analyzers or Indivijiual cerebral systems-^. This af ford^ grourid 

for thfe conclusion that in most people the strengths of ^ the cortical cell? 

can be regarded as a property equally -applicable to the visual *aild ' 

audi tcJry* analyzers i but that in some the Visual and' auditory anaijyzeTS 

have quite different strength parameters. ' """^ ^ 

The stxength and -mobility of -the n^erVbus systetn are probably 

related £o factors ^ucK aa a m^turational effect and learning., Because 

the. two' may interact tcr produce a temperment, which in ' turn affects 

learning, we have a cyclical effect, a constant -involvement and -a ^ 



constant change In the physiological basis. What role naturai Ion play 




here, and what role one may attribute to learning Is probably a highly 

nere, ar ' To: r - • ^ . ^ . ^ * ^ • ^ 

Individualistic characteristic/ ^ . 

V. One cannot generalize the above to all individuals.^ Obviously ^ 

- ^ • ^ • / • . • ' ■ ' ' * ' • 

^ some subjects do notfixate in the usual '2 -^10 number of trials, arid so 
sere s-ur; . i , , 

do not extinguish a set in 30 or more trials. The individual probably 

exhibits^^ervous properties which are ratheif unique arid highly Indlvidtiai- 



istic..,/Orie may attribute these characteristics more to the actual inherited 



chemical make up of the nervous system. Agairi^one cannot deny the impar- 

cher.ical r'c . ^ / ^ ' , • ■ ' • 

tance of cognitive factors or ^ the personality^ of the individual. As 

tance c: ccgr. ^ J » " ^ ^ 

previously mentioned, the set pf one individual has an important effect 

■previcusl:- re'^^ . ^ ' ^ / • 

on his temperment and thus on his personality as a whole; Because of . ^ 
on his terrczr.-. ' , , ^ . ' . 

certain petsonality type, interaction with the environment will differ 

' from other iridividuils, and thus'.result in the fbrmation of different ^ 

-fron: ether ir.^i„ / ^ , \, ' . ' 

sets, and as ^a^cyc^le, different interactions. ^ 
sets . and £5 / / . ' 

One; of the more dif fipnlt e:q)lanatiohs relate to the formulation 

- One c:-' ^^^^^^^^^^-^-"^ . ^ 

of contrast and assimilative Illusions. Why does one 'individual perceive 
bf cotitras: y ' . ' " . 

an equal sphere as larger, and another individual peri;eive the same 

sphere as eq.ual dr smaller? Here again, one must look at the nervoiis 

'sphere as ccua^ , j^^^^: ■ , 

' system. Unlike the extinction or excitation trials whiqh may be affected 

systerr. . 'U'-.---^t. . . / ■ . 

strength, mobility and learnirig,,'the illusory ef feet, is' probably 
'by strengi:^. ' - ' - . ^ * * . , • . - 

uniquely related to the structure of the cortex? The diagram may looR 

uniGuely re . ^i-: - . * * ' . 

as -follows: . / j 

as f ello'/s : , ' ■ ^ . ' / : 



ERLC 



29 



28 



2 

CNS 



/ 



\ 



\ 



CNS 



Stimulus 



Reaction 




Afferent 




Like an analyzer, the path followed is from S (stimulus) to CNS 
(central nervous system) to R (reaction). As in most situations, 4 indi- 
cates the return af f erentation. If path "a" is followed, we have veridical 
perception, if path "b", we have "a" contrast illusion and if path "c" 
is followed, an assimilative illusion will results Why does stimulation 
take different ^aths? The answer may lie in both the maturational and 
inherent qualities of the cortex.^ 

SDMMARY • j ^ " 

Our findings support that of Uznadze's in that excitability /is 

■\' ■ ■ i ' 

a distirtguishing feature in all children. In most age groups, less 

^ ■ - ■ L ■ ^ ' 

than ten per^^^^^aetnTof the subject^ would not establish an illusion in the 

haptic modality. The percentage of subjects that would not ^ycite in the 

~ »■ - - 

visual modality increased to about 50 per cent, after the age of five. 

t Although our subjects did not vary ii ratie of excitation 
haptically and visually, there were significantly different rates in 
the number of trials it took before extinction took place. Our data 

■ 30 ■■' K 



- 29 
Indicates that as subjects increase In age, there is a. drop in the 
number of assimilative illusions in both mbdalities. 

An explanation for the decrease in number of assimilative 
illusions from ages 6 to 12 may be that stability of Jl;he fixed set is not 
altered, only th^' extent of the process of ob'jectiflcat'idn. It seems 
logical that as the child grows and learns, he would have greater 

facility with language and iogi^ and would use these factors to immobilize - 

f 

an existing set. This seems to explain, at least partly, the significant- 
increase in number of trials, as one increases in age, before extinction 
takes place. Uzinadze makes the case that the stabjllity of a set is also 
tested by the number of trials before veridical perception is reac^hed. 
That is, the longer ife-^akes td extinguish a set, the more stable the set. 
Uznadze reports on aspects of the "plasticity" and "coarseness" of ^ 
sets based on differential rates of excitation, extinction, contrast 
and assimilative illusions. Our study shows that there are statistically 
significant age differences in the way children develop and maintain 
sets, particularly in the haptic modality. The predominance of the haptic 
excitability over the visual makes sense from Piaget's motoric- intelligence 
concept and fromi the physiological view of the slower development of the 
visual modality. - 

Continued research in the psychology of set mist include measures 
of the strength and mobility of the nervous system, as well as measures 
of conservation and classification. Our study would lead us to believe 
tliat th^ development of det has little meaning outside the context of 
the physiology of the nervous system and its relation to maturation and 
the learning of cognitive operations. ' ^ - 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 



Ach, N. Deterinlnlng tendencies: A;vareness. In D. Rapaport (Ed,), 
> Organization and Pathology of Thought . New York: Columbia 
University Press, 1951. Pp. 15-24. 

Allporty F.H, Theories of Perception and the Concept of Structure . 
New York: Wiley, 1955. 

Allport, G.W. Pattern and Growth In Personality , ^ew York: Holt, 1961. 

Berlyne, 0. Conflict, Arousal and Curiosity . New York: McGraw-Hill, 
I960. 

Bruner, J. Personality dynamics and the Tprocess. of perceiving. In 

R.R. Blake and G.V. Ransey (Eds»), Perception — An Approach to Personality , 
New York: Ronald Press, 1951. Pp. 121-148. 

Bruner, 3. Toward a Theory of Instruction . . Cambridge: Harvard University 
Press, 1966. » 

Bruner, J. and Postman, L. Multiplicity of set as a determinant of 

perceptual behavior* Journal of Experimental Psychology , 1949 ^ 39 , 
369-377 • ' 

Bzhalava, I.T. Ustanovka 1 Vosprllatle (Set and Perception), •fblllsl: 
Academy of Sciences, 1965. ; 

Freeman, G.L. The problem of set. American Journal of Psychology , 1939t. 
52, 143-150. 

Harlow, H.F. Mlc, "monkeys, men, and motives. Psychological Review , 
1953, 60, 23-32. ^ 

Hebb, D.O. Organization of Behavior . New York^ Wiley, 1949. 

Hebb, D.O. Drive and the C.N.S. Psychological Review , 1955 » 62,^253-354. 

Hebb, IJ.O. A Textbook of Psychology . Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Co., 
1958. 

Herzog, tl.L. and Unr^, W.R. T6iward a Unification of the Uznadze Theory 
of Set and Western Theories of Human Functioning In A.S. Pranglshvlll, 
Psychological Investigations of D.N. Uznadze , Tblllzl Institute of 
Psychology, Tblllzl, U.S.S.R. , 1973. , 

Humphrey, G. Thinking: An Introduction to Its Experimental Psycl^ology . 

New York: Wiley, 1951. 
< ' ' •.-/." 

Luchlns, A.S. Mechanization In problem solving: The effect of Elnstellung. 

Psychological Monographs , 1942, ^, 1-95. 

i 



V 31 



Luchins, A.S. An Instance of mental set: Its history ana application. 
In Experimental Analysis of Set . Moscow: XVIII International 
Congress of Psychology, 1966. Pp. 105-115. 

Lurla, A.R. The Role of Speech In the Regulation of Normal and Abnormal 
Behavior . New York: Liverlght, 1961. 

Plaget, J. The Psychology of ^ Intelligence . London: Kegan Paul, 1950, 

Pribram, K. Neurological notes on the art of educating. In E.R. Hllgard 
(Ed.) 9 Theories of Learning and Instruction . 63rd Yearbook, N.S.S.E. 
1964. Pp. 78-110. 

Skinner, B.F. Science and Human Behavior . New York: Macmillan, 1953. 

Uznadze, D.N. Untersuchungen zur Psychologie der Einstellung 

(Investigationq in the psychology of set). Acta* Psychologica , 
1939, _4, 323-360. 

Uznadze, D.N. Eksperimental'nye dsnovy psikhologli ustanovki (Experi- 
mental basis of the psychology of set). In Ai Prangishvili (Ed.),, 
Ek8perimi£»ntal'nye Issledovaniia po Psikhologli Ustanovki ( Experi- "^^' 
mental Investigations in the Psychology of Set ) . Tbilisi: Academy 
Qf^ciences, 1958. Pp. 3-119. 

Uznadze, D.N. Eksperimental*nye Osnovy Psikhologli Ustanovki ( Experi- 
mental Basis of the Psychology of Set) . Tbilisi: Academy of 
Sciences, 1961. o 

Uznadze, D.N. The Psychology of Set . New York: Consultants Bureau, 
1966. 

Vygotsky, L.S. Thought arid Language. ■'Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 1962. 

White, R.V* Motivation reconsidered: The concept of competence. 
Pg^ycho logical Review , 1959,' 66, 179-233.