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The relationship between self concept structure and behavioral flexibility : a model relating cognitive structures to behavioral patterns

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2004
Engin, Elif
Self-concept structure has been extensively studied in the literature especially with regard to its relationship with psychological adjustment. However, the behavioral outcomes of the cognitive structure of the self and the mechanisms through which the relationship between self-concept structure and psychological adjsutment operate are still to be maintained. This study offered that the two dimensions of self-concept structure, differention and integration, would be related to the two dimensions of behavioral flexibility: Behavioral repertoire and deliberate adjustment of behaviors. iv Differentiation, tapping behavioral repertoire, was assumed to determine whether a person is flexible or rigid, while integration tapping deliberate adjustment were supposed to determine the quality of flexibility (i.e., whether the repertoire is controlled by the individual or by situational factors). By crossing these two dimensions, a model with four behavioral patterns was proposed: (1) Functional flexibility, characterized by both high integration and high differentiation; (2) situational flexibility, characterized by high differentiation but low integration; (3) stereotypical rigidity, characterized by low differentiation but high integration, and (4) effacing rigidity, which is low on both dimensions. Three studies were conducted on university students (N = 163, N = 123 and N = 242 for the three studies respectively) in order to test this model. Results revealed that the behavioral repertoire dimension of behavioral flexibility was linked to selfconcept differentiation, whereas the deliberate adjustment dimension was related to selfconcept integration. Functional flexibility and effacing rigidity patterns were clearly specified by measures of psychological adjustment, locus of control, need for cognition, need for approval and Big Five dimensions. Stereotypical rigidity and