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A Personal Construct Investigation of Trust and Dependency in Younger and Older People

Rossotti, N. (1999). A Personal Construct Investigation of Trust and Dependency in Younger and Older People. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Trust and dependency are construed as important and separate human processes. The research presents the development of a new instrument, the trust grid, the design of which was based upon personal construct theory and methodology. The study compares trust and dependency in younger and older people. It also investigates the relationship of the number of people trusted and depended upon, with mental health on the one hand and interpersonal satisfaction on the other. Trust and dependency were assessed for 20 younger people (10 men and 10 women aged 30 to 45) and 20 older people (10 men and 10 women aged 65 and over) who were clients either in therapy or awaiting therapy from a National Health Service Clinical Psychology Department. The repertory and dependency grids (Kelly, 1955; 1991) were used, as were four questionnaires to measure mental health, interpersonal satisfaction, self-concealment and interpersonal trust. Statistical measures included Pearson’s correlations, r-tests, and where required by the properties of the data, Mann-Whitney Utests and Wilcoxon Signed-Ranked tests.

Results provided empirical evidence confirming that trust and dependency constitute two psychological processes. They also showed that there were significant differences between the two age groups, with gender also an important variable. A greater correspondence existed between the people who were trusted and those who were depended upon in the younger age group than in the older age group. There was evidence that the higher the number of people that younger women depended on and also trusted, the lower the level of psychological and interpersonal distress they experienced. No significant relationship existed for younger men. Older men experienced a positive relationship between psychological distress and the number of people they trusted and depended upon, as well as between interpersonal distress and the number of people they trusted and depended on. No positive relationships were found for older women.

The study provides a new contribution to the interpersonal literature as trust and dependency have not, to the researcher’s knowledge, previously been investigated together. It provides findings which concord with earlier studies regarding the importance of relationships for younger women and their lesser importance for younger men. The results for older people are difficult to interpret as they appear to contradict clinical experience. Further research is suggested with larger samples of older men and women.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Rossotti thesis 1999_redacted PDF-A.pdf]
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