|Wechsler Scores and the PAS|
The Gittinger Personality Assessment System (PAS) is intimately linked to the Wechsler Intelligence Scales. Indeed, the fundamental concept of the PAS is that what we call "personality" is, to a large extent, an outgrowth of the manner in which we use (and have used) the various constituents of our intellectual abilities. The origins of this insight are discussed in the section devoted to the history of the PAS. Here, we are concerned with the hypothesized relationships between performance on the various subtests of the Wechsler and personality both developmental and exhibited.
Interpretation of the Subtest Scores: Summary
This section describes the specific procedures by which the Primitive, Basic, and Contact levels of the subject's personality structure are theoretically inferred from the pattern of his performance on the Wechsler Intelligence Scales. In interpreting the Wechsler profile in the light of the theory, the subject's Normal Level of Wechsler performance is determined first.
The Normal Level is a theoretical baseline from which the influence of personality factors on test behavior can be estimated. The Normal Level is thought to reflect the individual's innate capacity. Its computation is based on a theory-determined weighting system which is applied to certain of the subject's Wechsler subtest scores. His particular personality pattern is thought to emerge from an analysis of the discrepancies between his Normal Level and the scores which he obtains on specific subtests.
The theory regards some of the Wechsler subtests as more fundamental than others, in that they reflect the primitive components of the subject's personality structure. Other specific subtest scores are associated with the compensated and modified adjustments which the subject acquires within each of the major dimensions
- His primitive tendency with regard to the Externalizer or Internalizer dimension is inferred from his Digit Span score.
- His Arithmetic score is believed to suggest his compensated state in this dimension.
- Its modification is indicated by his Information score.
- His primitive Rigid or Flexible component is identified on the basis of his Block Design performance.
- Its compensatory adjustment is thought to be reflected by his performance on the Similarities subtest.
- The modified state, here, by his Comprehension score.
- His primitive Acceptable or Unacceptable state is associated with his Picture Arrangement performance,
- Its compensation is indicated by his Picture Completion score.
- Modification here, is given by responses on the Object Assembly subtest.
The rationale for the relationships between the theoretical constructs of the PAS and the Wechsler subtests are specified in each case.
The section concludes with the role of the subject's performance on the Digit Symbol subtest in the interpretation of his Wechsler pattern. The theory maintains that, while this score does not reflect any specific personality factor, it is nevertheless related to the quality of his total functioning. The position of a subject's Digit Symbol score in relation to his Normal Level is believed to reflect factors such as anxiety and depression. The nature of this score is further thought to provide a rough estimate of the extent of the individual's awareness of people and events in his environment. Performance on this subtest is also thought to show the stability with which an individual can maintain the contact level of his personality organization. Reference is made to the newly-developed PAS dimension dealing with a subject's mode in achieving goals.
Interpretation of the Wechsler Scales in Terms of the PAS
The PAS model regards certain subtests as reflecting more fundamental tendencies than others, in that they indicate an individual's primitive personality components. The three subtests so considered, and the primitive tendency associated with each of them are shown below:
|Digit Span||Externalizer - Internalizer|
|Block Design||Rigid - Flexible|
|Picture Arrangement||Acceptable - Unacceptable|
Each primitive component is capable of compensation and modification. The specific subtests associated with these developmental states, in regard to each of the primitive tendencies listed above, is as follows:
|Primitive Tendency||State of Compensation||State of Modification|
|Externalizer - Internalizer||Arithmetic||Information|
|Rigid - Flexible||Similarities||Comprehension|
|Acceptable - Flexible||Picture Completion||Object Assembly|
The sections which follow discuss the subtests, performances upon which, reflect each of the major components of personality at the primitive, basic, and contact levels. In these sections, the subtests associated with the primitive tendency are discussed first, followed by a statement concerning the particular subtest which is related to its basic, or compensated state. Each section concludes with the specific subtest which indicates the contact, or modified adjustment. Only weighted Wechsler subtest scores are used in these sections.
Wechsler Subtests Associated with The Externalizer-Internalizer Dimension
The PAS holds that the score that the subject obtains on the Digit Span subtest reflects his primitive state with regard to the Externalizer-Internalizer dimension of personality. The rationale for this relationship is based on the fact that the subject can handle the digit span test in one of two ways.
- The first approach corresponds to the "natural" approach of the Extenalizer who is likely to deal with the digits as though they were located somewhere in the environment. In this type of approach, the subject may, for example, imagine that the numbers are written on the wall, or perhaps on a piece of paper. He may also associate the digits, in various ways, with actual environmental factors. This general method is the natural approach of the Externalizer, who turns spontaneously to the environment in order to utilize it in his problem-solving behavior. Such methods, however, are not among the more successful, since they restrict recall.
Other characteristics of the Externalizer hamper his performance on the Digit Span subtest still further. Since his perception tends to be specific, he is apt to focus on the digits as separate units, without grouping them in his mind to facilitate their recall. Further, the digits themselves are abstractions, and, as such, represent an area which is out of accord with his inherent preferences.
In brief, both the content of the task, and the more successful methods of handling it, are fundamentally alien to him. In addition, he is forced into a situation in which his behavioral inadequacy is highly anxiety-provoking, in view of his need for interpersonal approval and fear of rejection. These factors combine to lower his score. In fact, it is the theory's view that the strength of his externalized tendency is indicated by just how poorly he does.
The strength of the subject's externalized tendency, according to the theory, is suggested by the magnitude of the difference, in weighted score points, between his digit span score and his Normal Level. If his digit span score is three or four points below NL, he is considered to be a primitive Externalizer of moderate strength, and is therefore symbolized as an E.
If his digit span score is five or more weighted score points below his NL, he is regarded as a primitive Externalizer whose externalizing tendency is strong, or an E+.
- The second way in which the subject can handle the Digit Span task is to arrange the numbers so as to make them more meaningful to himself. This is primarily an internalized procedure, and does not involve environmental relationships. It therefore represents the preferred problem-solving approach of the Internalizer, who tends, almost automatically, to group the digits in a manner which facilitates recall.
The Internalizer has further inherent advantages over the Externalizer in connection with Digit Span performances. His thinking is inclined to be abstract, and he is not likely to perceive the digits as separate, concrete units. Also, since the digits are abstractions, the task is essentially one which he can handle readily. Further, the situation itself is not inherently threatening to him, because interpersonal approval is not his vital need in view of his fundamental self-sufficiency.
These factors combine to produce a high Digit Span score. The theory, therefore, infers the strength of his internalized tendency on the basis of how well he performs on this subtest, in relation to his own Normal Level.
In estimating the direction of the various personality factors, the theory usually interprets subtest scores which are close to the Normal Level as corresponding in direction to scores which fall above it. Accordingly, if the subject's Digit Span score falls anywhere between two points below, to one point above his Normal Level, he is regarded as a primitive Internalizer of moderate strength, or an I. If his digit span score falls two or more points above his Normal Level, his primitive internalized tendency is regarded as strong, making him an I+
The Arithmetic subtest score is thought to indicate the compensated or Basic state which the primitive Externalizer or Internalizer acquires at adolescence. For either, a high Arithmetic score indicates that compensation took place, while a low score suggests that compensation failed to occur. The reasons are as follows:
Arithmetic involves symbolic reasoning. It is therefore a skill which the primitive Externalizer acquires slowly, and with great difficulty. It is, however, also an ability which is emphasized in school, and is commonly called upon in the course of daily living. In view of his inherent problems in this area, the Externalizer has two courses open to him in this connection.
- First, he can admit his inferiority, and accept his limitations without forcing himself to overcome them. In this case, his score on the Arithmetic Subtest will be poor in relation to his Normal Level, showing that he has failed to compensate for his inherent shortcomings.
- The second choice open to the Externalizer is to force himself to master the subject with great effort, thus compensating for his limitation. In so doing, he has developed internalized skills through compensation, and will achieve a high arithmetic score in consequence.
The primitive Internalizer, on the other hand, usually performs well in arithmetic with very little effort. In fact, his inherent facility in approaching the subject is so great that he may give a spurious impression of mastery, which he may never be called upon to prove, and may well not possess.
Again two possibilities exist.
- If he has failed to discipline his natural ideational tendency sufficiently to enable him to apply it to practical and specific tasks, he will do poorly on the Arithmetic subtest, thus manifesting his lack of compensation.
- If however, he has acquired control by compensating in the externalized direction, he will obtain a high Arithmetic score.
According to the theory, a moderately uncompensated state in primitive Externalizers and Internalizers is suggested by an Arithmetic score which is two or three points below his Normal Level. This condition is symbolized by a u. An Arithmetic score of four or more points below the Normal Level indicates an extreme lack of compensation, which is represented by a u+.
If the Arithmetic score falls between one point below and two points above Normal Level, moderate compensation, c, is indicated, while two points or more above Normal Level suggests an extremely compensated, or c+ state.
The Information subtest is regarded as the indicator of the quality of the modified, or contact state, which is acquired by the Externalizer or Internalizer at maturity. In both cases, a high Information score, (in relation to Normal Level), is considered a sign that modification took place. A low Information score, on the other hand, is thought to suggest a lack of modification. The theoretical rationale is as follows:
The kind of information for which the subtest calls is essentially ideational in nature. Further, the necessary retention involves the type of memory which is characteristically an Internalizer's trait. Both Internalized content and internalized skills, therefore, are involved in good performance on the subtest
By definition, the Externalizer is penalized in these respects, so that, if he does well, he must have modified his externalized orientation by acquiring internalized abilities. Conversely, low Information scores in an Externalizer suggests that he is still functioning primarily on the basis of his inherent skills, having failed to modify them.
The Internatizer, on the other hand, has the skills which are necessary to do well on the Information subtest. However, in order to achieve a high Information score, he must have modified his inherent lack of responsiveness to the environment, or he would have remained unaware of the environmental events to which the items refer. In an Internalizer, then, a low Information score indicates that he has not departed from his original autistic tendency, and has failed to adapt his ideational skills to specific, external happenings. An Internalizer may also achieve a low Information score if he has denied his ideational dominance in order to compensate, in which case the utilization of internalized skills has become a threat to him.
In the Internalizer, then, the Information score will be low if ideational reactivity has not been disciplined, or if it has been denied. In either case, he has not acquired modification, and his unmodified state will be reflected in an Information score which is low in relation to his Normal Level. On the other hand, a modified adjustment, in an Internalizer, is indicated when his Information score is well above his Normal Level.
In both Externalizers and Internalizers, a relatively unmodified, or u, contact state is inferred from an Information score which is two or three points below the Normal Level. An extremely unmodified, or u+, adjustment is implied by an Information score of four or more points below it. A moderately modified, or c, adaptation is indicated by an Information score equal to the subject's Normal Level, or one point above or below it. An Information score of two or more points above the Nonmal Level is taken as a sign that extreme, or c+, modification has taken place.
Wechsler Subtests Associated With The Rigid - Flexible Dimension
The Block Design subtest is theoretically regarded as the indicator of the subject's tendency with regard to the Rigid - Flexible dimension. The reasons are as follows:
The Block Design subtest, like the Digit Span, involves a task which the subject can handle in one of two fundamentally different ways. The two approaches, in this case, correspond to the problem-solving methods which are inherent in primitive rigidity and primitive flexibility, respectively.
- The first approach involves breaking down each design into its component parts, thus facilitating the accurate reproduction of the specific units which make up the total configuration. This is the natural method of the rigid individual, who has the inherent ability to focus and concentrate on narrow, specific aspects of a problem. Since this way of handling the Block Design task tends to result in superior performance, the subject will achieve a high score precisely because he is rigid.
Further characteristics of rigidity also contribute to raising the rigid subject's Block Design score. He usually works in an orderly fashion, rarely placing a block until he has recognized its correct final position. He is not readily distracted, nor does he find concentration on minute details irksome. He does not need to look for the relationships of the parts to each other, nor is it necessary for him to derive their meaning from an understanding of the whole. He tends to proceed by rote, perseverating with one specific unit until it has been properly placed.
Further, the situation itself is not distracting to the rigid subject. He can concentrate on the designs, unaware of the interpersonal aspects of the test situation, and largely without anxiety concerning the impression which his performance is making. Insulated from external and internal interference, he is able to reproduce the designs by accurate imitation of their elements.
The special combination of abilities and personality traits which stem from rigidity are so well suited to successful Block Design performance, that the theory estimates the strength of the subject's primitive rigidity on the basis of how well he performs on this subtest.
In calculating the strength of rigidity, the theory con- siders that a moderate degree of primitive rigidity, (in symbolic form, an R), is suggested by a Block Design score which corres- ponds to the Normal Level, or which falls one point above or below it. Strong primitive rigidity, represented as "R+," is in- ferred from a Block Design score of one or more weighted score points above Normal Level.
- The second approach to the Block Design subtest is to perceive the designs in terms of their overall effects. In this method of handling the task, the subject responds to the individuality of each design, reconstructing the pattern from the reference point of its totality. As a result, he is likely to make minor inaccuracies in his reproductions, and his score on the subtest suffers in consequence. This is the typical approach of the flexible subject, whose Block Design score is characteristically low, because of the way in which he approaches the task.
Additional attributes of the primitively flexible subject contribute to a further lowering of his Block Design score. He is inherently distractible, and finds concentration difficult, Attention to detail tends to irritate him, and small, discrete, units of the design are apt to escape him entirely, because they are essentially meaningless to him. He has a need to look for the relationships of the various parts to each other, and to seek for their meaning through an understanding of the whole. He is thus likely to lose points in terms of time, as well as accuracy.
The flexible subject is also likely to find the test situation itself distracting, so that both external and internal stimuli interfere with his reproductions. He is aware of the interpersonal aspects of the situation, and highly responsive to them. His inherently wide range of perception not only prevents him from focusing on the details of the designs, but it also forces him to regard the tasks which are presented to him as only one aspect of the total situation in which he is placed.
The particular combination of skills and attributes which characterize primitive flexibility are so poorly suited to successful performance on the Block Design subtest, that the strength of his inherent flexibility is theoretically shown by just how poorly he scores.
In determining the strength of the subject's primitive flexibility, the theory holds that a moderate degree is suggested by a Block Design score of two or three weighted score points below Normal Level. The subject who achieves such a score is therefore represented as an F. If the Block Design score falls four weighted score points or more below Normal Level, the individual is considered an F+, in whom primitive flexibility is strong.
The Similarities subtest is thought to reflect the quality of the subject's basic, or compensated rigid or flexible state. High and low Similarities scores are thought to represent different basic conditions in rigid and flexible subjects. In a primitively rigid subject, a high Similarities score is regarded as a sign that compensation occurred, while a lack of compensation is inferred from a low Similarities score, The opposite relationships are thought to hold in connection with the primitively flexible subject. In his case, a low Similarities score is thought to indicate compensation, while a high Similarities score is believed to reflect its lack. The reasoning is as follows:
The Similarities subtest involves the ability to see relationships. This ability is fundamentally alien to the rigid subject, so that if he does poorly on this subtest, he has failed to acquire flexible skills. The theory holds that the extent to which he has retained the dominance of his primitive rigidity is shown by the extent of his failure to perceive the relationships which are involved in the Similarities subtest.
If his score is two or three points below his Normal Level, he is regarded as moderately uncompensated, or as a u. Extreme lack of compensation is suggested if his Similarities score is four or more points below his Normal Level. In this case, he is represented as a u+.
In cases where a rigid subject does relatively well on the Similarities subtest, he must have acquired the ability to do so through compensation. The theory therefore maintains that the extent of his compensation can be estimated by just how much ability he has acquired in seeing relationships.
If his Similarities score corresponds to his Normal Level, or falls ore point above or below it, the rigid subject is thought to have achieved a moderately compensated, or a c state. An extreme of compensation, or a c+ adjustment is suggested in the rigid subject who achieves a Similarities score of four or more points above his Normal Level.
The opposite conditions are thought to hold for the Primitive F. Since the ability to see relationships is natural for him, a high Similarities score indicates that he is functioning in accordance with his primitive tendency, and has failed to compensate for it. In the theory's view, the extent of his lack of compensation is shown by just how well he performs on the Similarities subtest. If his Similarities score is equal to his Normal Level, or within one point of it in either direction, his lack of compensation is thought to be moderate, and he is symbolized as u. An extremely uncompensated state is suggested in a flexible subject by a Similarities score which is two or more points above Normal Level. This adjustment is represented as u+.
On the other hand, the theory regards a poor Similarities score in a flexible subject as an indication that he has reacted against his primitive flexibility by adopting the characteristically rigid lack of insight into relationships through compeasation. The extent of his compensation is inferred by the extent of his deficiency in this respect. If his Similarities score is two or three points below his Normal Level, his basic adjustment is considered as moderately compensated, and is symbolized as c. He is regarded as extremely compensated, or as c+, if his Similarities score is four or more points below his Normal Level.
The Comprehension subtest is thought to suggest the nature of the subject's rigid or flexible adult state. In both cases, a high Comprehension score is associated with modification, and a low score, with a failure to modify. The following theoretical reasons underlie these interpretations:
The acquisition and retention of the kind of material for which the Comprehension subtest calls, involves primarily practical and procedural skills. Since these are essentially R abilities, a rigid subject will perform relatively poorly on this subtest only if he has failed to develop appropriate control of his mechanical and procedural tendencies, or has repressed them in order to compensate. In a primitively rigid individual, then, a low Comprehension score indicates an unmodified adjustment, due to either a lack of discipline, or to denial.
A high Comprehension state in a primitively rigid subject, on the other hand, implies that he has acquired sufficient modfication to enable him to use mechanical and procedural skills appropriately and relevantly These characteristics will flected in high Comprehension scores, obtained by the rigid individual, in this case, on the basis of the skills which he has attained through the process of modification.
In contrast to the rigid subject, the primitively flexible one is inherently inept in mechanical and procedural approaches. As a result, unless he has modified his primitive tendency, he will obtain a relatively low Comprehension score. In fact, such a score indicates his failure to modify precisely because it demonstrates that he has not developed the abilities which modification would have afforded him. If he has modified, on the other hand, he will achieve a high Comprehension score, because he has acquired the talents which were not naturally his through the very process of modification
In determining the direction and strength of either a rigid or flexible contact state, a Comprehension score two or three points below the subject's Normal Level is thought to reflect a fairly unmodified, or a u adjustment. A more extensively unmodified, u+ adaptation, is indicated by a Comprehension score four points or more below Normal Level. A relatively modified, or c contact state, is inferred from a Comprehension score which falls at Normal Level, or within one point of it in either direction. A Comprehension score two points or more above Normal Level is considered a sign of a strongly modified, or c+ contact adjustment.
Wechsler Subtests Associated With The Acceptable-Unaccentable Dimension
The Picture Arrangement subtest is regarded as the indicator of the subject's primitive tendency in connection with the Acceptable-Unacceptable personality dimension. The theory advances the following rationale:
The Picture Arrangement subtest, like Digit Span and Block Design, presents the subject with problems which can be handled in one of two distinct ways. Here, the two approaches reflect the inherent differences in social perception which characterize primitively acceptable and unacceptable individuals, respectively
- The first method is to interpret the Picture Arrangement items as primarily social and interpersonal situations. This represents the natural perceptual emphasis of the primitively acceptable subject, who has an inherently high degree of social-interpersonal awareness. The nature of his perceptual preference tends to result in a high Picture Arrangement score, since the subtest calls primarily for insight into total social situations in predominantly human contexts.
Primitive acceptability provides a subject with additional advantages on the Picture Arrangement subtest. He is capable of quick appreciation of the social relationships which are involved, and he is well able to identify appropriate social roles and behave accordingly. He therefore can readily empathize with the human characters presented in the Picture Arrangement subtest, and is highly adept in predicting their social behavior. He will also gain points for time, because he is capable of rapid, as well as appropriate, social judgments.
The acceptable subject has the further advantage of the ability to handle unfamiliar situations effectively, so that he is not upset by the novel settings which the Picture Arrangement subtest introduces. His special pattern of personality attributes and skills is, therefore, singularly likely to result in successful Picture Arrangement performance.
Accordingly, the theory estimates the strength of his primitively acceptable component on the basis of how well he does on this subtest, in relation to his own Normal Level.
In estimating the strength of the subject's primitive acceptability, a Picture Arrangement score which falls two points below Normal Level to one point above it is thought to indicate a moderately acceptable tendency. Such an individual, then, is designated as an A. He becomes an A+ if his Picture Arrangement score is two points or more above his Normal Level, a discrepancy which suggests that his primitive acceptability is strong.
- The second method of dealing with the Picture Arrangement subtest is to regard the situations which are presented apart from the social contexts which are implied. This approach is characteristic of the primitively Unacceptable subject, who, by definition, has an inherent lack of social awareness. He will thus be relatively unaware of the cues which point to the correct solutions, and his Picture Arrangement score will be correspondingly low.
The primitively unacceptable individual is at further disadvantage on the Picture Arrangement items. His inherent deficiency in social awareness will not only prevent him from correctly identifying the area which the subtest involves, but will also make it difficult for him to emphathize with the human characters who are presented. He will therefore be inaccurate in predicting the outcomes. Further, he will lose considerable time, because he is working in areas in which he lacks fundamental understanding.
The unacceptable subject is further hampered on the Picture Arrangement subtest by his tendency to be upset in novel situations. Since he is limited in social versatility, unfamiliar settings tend to be threatening to him. His special combination of skills and personality traits is therefore such that he becomes particularly ineffectual in handling Picture Arrangement items.
The theory therefore judges the strength of his primitive unacceptability by how poorly he performs on this subtests in relation to his Normal Level.
When a subject obtains a Picture Arrangement score three or four points below his Normal Level, the theory regards him as characterized by a moderately unacceptable, or U. primitive tendency. A Picture Arrangement score which falls five or more points below Normal Level is interpreted as a sign that the subject's primitive unacceptability is strong. He is therefore symbolized as a U+.
The Picture Completion subtest is considered as the indicator of the quality of the subjects compensated adjustment in the Acceptable-Unacceptable dimension. High and low Picture Completion scores are thought to reflect different basic adaptations in acceptable and unacceptable subjects. In the primatively acceptable individual, a high Picture Completion score is thought to indicate a lack of compensation, while a low Picture Completion score is regarded as a sign that compensation has occurred.
In connection with the primitively unacceptable individual, the opposite relationships are theoretically maintained. In his case, a high Picture Completion score is thought to indicate that compensation took place, while a low Picture Completion score is interpreted as a sign of compensation failure. The following rationale Is advanced by the theory:
The Picture Completion subtest involves the ability to recognize and respond to objects in the environment. Since an "A" learns to respond to external objects with ease, he will do well on the Picture Completion items, if he has retained his inherent skills by failing to compensate for them. High Picture Completion scores, for him, thus indicate an uncompensated basic state.
According to the theory, he is considered to be moderately uncompensated, or u, if his Picture Arrangement score is equal to his Normal Level, or within one point of it in either direction. If his Picture Completion score is two or more points above his Normal Level, his basic adjustment is considered to be extremely uncompensated, or u+. When an acceptable subject does poorly on the Picture Completion subtest, the theory regards his poor performance as an indication that he has reacted against his inherent skills. In this event, he will obtain a low Picture Completion score, beeause he has denied his inherent skills, and thus no longer exercises his ability to respond appropriately to environmental objects. A low Picture Completion score in an A thus reflects a compensated state. The theory considers that an acceptable subject is moderately compensated if his Picture Completion score is two or three points below his Normal Level; and extremely compensated if his Picture Completion score is four or more points below it. In the former case, he is de- signsted as a c." In the latter event, he is symbolized as a c+."
The opposite relationships between Picture Completion per- formance and Normal Level are thought to exist in regard to the primitively Unacceptable subject. He is inherently lacking in ability to identify and respond to environmental objects. Therefore, if he does poorly on the Picture Completion subtest, he is still functioning within the limitations of his primitive tendency, having failed to compensate for it. A moderate lack of compensation in an unacceptable subject is thought to be suggested by a Picture Completion score which falls two or three points below his Normal Level. He is is therefore represented symbolically as u. If his Picture Completion score is four or more points below his Normal Level, he is considered to have achieved an extremely uncompensated. or u+, Basic state.
If, on the other hand, a primitively unacceptable subject does well on the Picture Completion subtest, he can do so only if he has acquired skills which are not inherently his, i.e., he must have compensated.
If an unacceptable individual achieves a Picture Completion score which corresponds to his Normal Level, or which falls within one point of it in either direction, he is thought to have reached a moderate degree of compensation. In this event, he is represented as a c. The unacceptable subject who achieves a Picture Completion score two points or more above his Normal Level is regarded as extremely compensated, and is symbolized as c+.
The Object Assembly subtest. is believed to indicate the adjustment state of the acceptable or unacceptable personality component at maturity. A low Object Assembly score is thought to reflect a modified adaptation at the adult level, while a high Object Assembly score is associated with an unmodified state. The theory gives the following rationale:
The Object Assembly subtest is regarded as a measure of what is called motivational anxiety for personality change.
Obviously, an individual will attempt to change only if he is dissatisfied with himself as he is. This dissatisfaction then induces modifications which, by definition, is a process undertaken because the individual is aware of the limitations in his Basic adjustment. He is motivated to change his personality because he has become anxious about it. It is his lack of self-satisfaction, then, which provides the motivational anxiety for change.
When an individual has associated anxiety with his basic adjustment, he will exert considerable effort to impose modification upon it. He will, however, lack confidence in. his modified state, recognizing that it is tenuous and vulnerable. This anxiety and insecurity will also be reflected in a lack of confidence in his ability to deal with the human content of the Object Assembly items, and in an overconcern with the examiner's expectations. In brief, the same difficulties which induced the modification will also lead to poor performance on the Object Assembly items.
Low Object Assembly scores, then, are theoretically associated with the modified states. In contrast, the subject who regards his basic adjustment as acceptable has little motivational anxiety for personality change, and will not undertake modification. His favorable self-perception will also be reflected in freedom from anxiety in dealing with the human content of the Object Assembly items and in lack of concern in regard to the examiner's expectations.
Such a subject is therefore able to devote himself directly to the tasks, and will perform well as a result. His success on the subtest is thus related to his lack of self-dissatisfaction, which, in turn, also resulted in his failure to modify. High Object Assembly scores, thens are theoretically associated with the unmodified states.
In estimating the direction and strength of modification, a relatively unmodified, or u, adjustment is inferred from an Object Assembly score which falls in a range of two points below to one point above the Normal Level. An extremely unmodified, or u+, state is suggested by an Object Assembly score of two or more points above the Normal Level. A relative- ly modified, or c", orientation is implied by a score which is three or four points below Normal Level, while an extremely modified, or c+, condition is characterized by one which falls below the Normal Level by five points or more.
The Digit Symbol Subtest
When the PAS was first envisioned, the Digit Symbol subtest was not regarded as related to any specific personality compotent. Recently, however, the work of Dr. David Saunders has resulted in the formulation of interpretive rules whereby this test, in combination with other data cab be used to assess a subject's personality with respect to how goals are approached and achieved. This "Fourth Dimension" as it is refered to in PAS circles, is still being evolved. Accordingly, it is given a section of its own and you may learn more about it by clicking on The Fourth Dimension.
Prior to this work the Digit Symbol score is not taken into account in estimating the primitive, basic, and contact levels of the subject's person- ality structure.
Digit Symbol performance, however, is thought to be related to the overall quality of the subjecty's total functioning. The Digit Symbol score is therefore given symbolic representation in the complete formulae which are described in the section on the PAS system of descriptive notation. However, as will be shown later, the score is placed in the last position in the formulae, after the subject's major personality components have been identified. The method by which the Digit Symbol score is represented is used chiefly in order to keep the theory's symbol system consistent. The direction and strength of this score is in- ferred, as usual, by comparing it to the individual's Normal Level. A u+ refers to a Digit Symbol score five or more points below Normal Level; a u represents one which is three or four points below it; a c designates one which falls in the range of two points below to one point above it; and a c+ symbolizes one which exceeds it by two points or more.
In the case of Digit Symbol scores, the letters u and c do not indicate compensated or modified states, as they do in connection with the specific components of personality. However, the letters do have the usual meaning in terms of direction in relation to Normal Level. The presence or absence of the plus sign, too, is given the customary interpretation.
In relation to the subject's Normal Level, then, a u+ Digit Symbol score is regarded, in relative terms, as very low; a u as moderately low; a c as retained, or moderately high; and a c+ as very high.
The theory recognizes the extreme variability of the Digit Symbol subtest, and emphasizes the need for caution in interpreting it. Digit Symbol performance is influenced ad- versely by factors such as anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
The score also reflects the effect of certain kinds of special experience, since a subject who has been trained in, say, the use of shorthand, may achieve a high score because of a practice effect. Nevertheless, certain theoretical generalizations are thought to be warranted in connection with performance on the Digit Symbol subtest.
The theory maintains that the position of a subject's Digit Symbol score, in relation to his Normal Level, provides a rough estimate of the extent of his awareness of, and his inclination to interact with, people and events in his environment. The quality of this interaction is also thought to be indicated.
Alertness, a high activity level, aggressiveness, and intensity are associated with high Digit Symbol scores, especially with those which fall in the "very high" category. These attributes can be advantageous when they occur in a personality type which permits of their constructive utilization. However, when they are associated with other personality patterns, they are more likely to result in negativism, destructive aggression, overt hostility, and denial.
Low Digit Symbol scores, on the other hand, may be associated with anxiety, depression, low activity levels, and lack of alertness. Very low, or u+, scores, in some patterns, are thought to indicate profound and disabling depression and anxiety. However, this interpretation, also, depends on the particular personality pattern in which the low score occurs.
Because Digit Symbol performance cannot be interpreted without reference to the subjeet's overall personality organization, it cannot be said that either high or low scores are "good" or "bad" signs in themselves.
The theory also assigns a special kind of interpretation to the Digit Symbol score. Performance on this subtest is regarded as indication of the stability with which the individual can maintain the contact level of his personality. This concept is related to the theory's special view of the attribute of moodiness.
Moodiness is regarded as a sign of the tendency, on the part of the subject, to vacillate between the basic and contact levels within his personality structure.
Extreme moodiness is thought to occur when there are large discrepancies between the two adjustments, thus permitting a wide range of vacillation. In such eases, the individual's ability to maintain his contact personality, particularly under stress, is closely related to his general stability and efficiency in functioning.
A moderate Digit Symbol score, a u or a c, is thought to imply the ability to respond appropriately to the pressures and strains of everyday living. Of the two, the retained or moderately high score is thought to reflect the greater stability in maintaining the contact state, although fluctuations between the two adjustments are regarded as relatively common. Extreme scores, u+ and c+, are interpreted as indications of wide mood swings, resulting in an "episodic," or uneven behavioral quality.
It is thought that the direction of the extreme Digit Symbol scores is largely externally determined, and that strength is the more important personality factor. The major differences between subjects who obtain u+ and c+ Digit Symbol scores are believed to lie in potential behavioral differences under stress. In stress situations, it is thought that the individual whose Digit Symbol score is c+ will tend to intensify his contact personality. His vacillations, then, will be chiefly in directions which are away from his basic adjustment. A u+ Digit Symbol score, in contrast, Is regarded as an indication that vacillations will be toward, rather than away from, the basic state.
Determining Normal Level and Formula
The book "Personality and Ability" has a method of computing the Normal Level along with the PAS formula. A modifed method was developed shortly after the book was published. It can be viewed Here.