DIFFERENCES IN ADULT ADJUSTMENT AND SELF-CONCEPT
BETWEEN EMPLOYED AND UNEMPLOYED
MENTALLY HANDICAPPED MALES
JAMES B. HEANEY
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
A note of appreciation is certainly in order for all those
who have given so freely of their time and expertise that this
endeavor may succeed.
Thanks to my wife, Kathy, who typed the first three evolving
Thanks to Mrs. Martha Claflin, Dr. Elaine Beason, Dr. Tom King,
Ms. Judy lacino, Dr. Bill Boomer, Dr. Elizabeth Delaney, Ms. Janet
Yates, and Mrs. Dee Hand at Fort Hays State for their combined
patience, encouragement, and the "space" they allowed me in finish-
Thanks to Mrs. Lee Ann Brunson, Mr. Lou Allen, Mrs. Wanda
Miller, and especially Mr. Jim Thomas for their help in locating
subjects and in finding places to test them.
Thanks to Mrs. Cynthia Sebrell Ratteree who monitored the tests
and was a true inspiration.
Thanks to my committee chairman, Dr. Stuart E. Schwartz, who
took me under his wing and made me crank, crank, crank until some-
thing worthwhile was produced. He was an inspiration both through
his concern for excellence and his example of diligence.
Thanks to Dr. James W. Hensel for insisting that I follow the
straight and narrow and for occasionally reintroducing me to reality.
Thanks to Dr. Brian DuToit whose objectivity from his outside
perspective kept my focus from becoming too narrow.
Thanks to Dr. Bob Algozzine who guided me through the trials
and tribulations of the research component of this work.
Thanks to Dr. Jim Whorton whose insights into vocational
programs for special needs students were invaluable.
Also special thanks to Dr. Myron Cunningham and Dr. Cary Reichard
for their assistance with this project.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . .
ABSTRACT . .
INTRODUCTION . .
Statement of the Problem
Purpose of the Study
Statement of Hypotheses
Definition of Terms .
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE . .
The Work Ethic in Western Society . .
Summary . . .
Employment of Mentally Handicapped Adults .
Summary . . .
Adult Adjustment . . .
Summary . . .
Adult Adjustment of Mentally Handicapped Individuals .
Summary. . . .
Self-Perceptions Held by Mentally Handicapped Persons and
Perceptions of Such Persons by Those Without Handicaps .
Adaptive Behavior and Self-Concept Rating Scales .
PROCEDURES . . .
Statement of Null Hypotheses . .
Designs . . .
Structural Models . . .
Data Collection . .
Instrumentation . .
ANALYSIS OF DATA . .
Statistical Treatment .
Statistical Analysis of Hypotheses
Hypothesis 1 . .
Hypothesis 2 . .
Hypothesis 3 . .
Hypothesis 4 . .
Summary . .
DESCRIPTION OF RANDOM SAMPLE .
. . . 56
. . . 58
SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Summary . .
Conclusions . .
Implications . .
Recommendations . .
APPENDIX A LETTER OF REQUEST FOR SUBJECTS
B SOCIAL AND PREVOCATIONAL INFORMATION BATTERY .
C SELF-PERCEPTION INVENTORY . .
D RAW DATA . . .
REFERENCES . . .
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . . .
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate
Council of the University of Florida in Partial
Fulfillment of the Requirements for the
Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
DIFFERENCES IN ADULT ADJUSTMENT AND SELF-CONCEPT
BETWEEN EMPLOYED AND UNEMPLOYED MENTALLY HANDICAPPED MALES
James B. Heaney
Chairman: Stuart E. Schwartz
Major Department: Special Education
It was the purpose of this study to compare adult adjustment
scores and self-concept scores of 20 employed and 20 unemployed
mentally handicapped males between the ages of 18 and 54. Subjects
resided within the State of Kansas with slightly over half from
urban areas. Instruments tested successfully for reliability and
validity were administered to determine subjects' adult adjustment
skills and self-concepts. These instruments were the Social and
Prevocational Information Battery and the Self-Perception Inventory.
Analysis of variance was used to determine the existence of signifi-
cant differences in the mean scores of the groups involved. In
addition, employed subjects were asked if they considered themselves
adequately employed and unemployed subjects were asked if they thought
they could acquire and maintain competitive employment. Significant
others in the subjects' lives were asked their responses to the
same questions for verification. In order to determine whether
the subjects and verifiers agreed in their responses beyond chance
probability, the Fisher Exact Test was administered. To supplement
the Fisher Exact Test a ratio test was also given. Additional
analyses of variance were performed on variables of discrete age
groups and location in conjunction with employment status.
Results of the analysis of variance design applied to the adult
adjustment and self-concept instrument mean scores indicated that no
significant differences existed between employed and unemployed
subjects in those areas. Results of application of the Fisher Exact
Test to responses on job adequacy by those employed or employability
by those unemployed, matched with their verifiers, indicated agreement
between those employed and their verifiers and disagreement between
those unemployed and their verifiers. However, a ratio test showed
significant agreement between subjects and verifiers in both groups.
Using the supplementary analyses of variance mean scores, the highest
age group was determined to possess the lowest levels of self-percep-
tion. Specific suggestions were made for elaboration and diversifica-
tion of the research subject matter of this study.
The purpose of this study was to compare adult adjustment scores
and self-perception scores of employed mentally handicapped males
with those of unemployed mentally handicapped males. Justification
for this study rested in the researcher's questioning of the
variable of employability as a critical factor in association with
adult adjustment and self-concept as measured by specific instru-
ments demonstrating satisfactory degrees of validity and reliability.
Historically, employment has been considered a principal
criterion for determining successful adjust adjustment (Olshansky,
1972). Edgerton and Bercovici (1976), however, questioned the
relevance of employment to adjustment in a follow-up study of
deinstitutionalized mentally retarded adults. In Edgerton's original
study of this group, he concluded that many of the subjects "accepted
work as the quintessential means of proving themselves to be normal,
worthy human beings" (1976, p. 491). Slightly more than a decade
later, many members of the same group thought of themselves as "normal"
despite being unemployed (1976, p. 493). The apparent contradictions
between the first research and its follow-up regarding the influence
of work on adjustment were cause for concern by investigators. If
employment no longer demanded a pivotal position in one's life, a
reexamination of the present secondary curricular focus for
mentally handicapped students seemed in order. In addition, the
question arose as to what concept, if any, replaced the work ethic
in the handicapped individual's hierarchy of values.
The following research was primarily an attempt to gauge
whether handicapped males adjusted to the demands of society as
well when they were not working as when they were working as
measured by both an adult adjustment scale and a self-perception
inventory. Also, in order to shed additional light on the employ-
ment situation for handicapped adults, employed persons were queried
concerning the quality of their employment while unemployed persons
were asked their opinions of their own employability. Significant
others were used to validate each subject's response to the question
concerning adequacy of employment or employability.
Traditionally, vocational education authorities have con-
fronted the work ethic from a rather unified position. Brown
(1958) called work "an essential part of man's life which
gives him status and binds him to society" (p. 187). Herzberg,
Mausner, and Snyderman (1959) conducted a study in which they con-
cluded that the single most effective variable in raising the mental
health level of most persons was an increase in the capacity for
work motivation. Friedmann and Havighurst (1954) identified five
needs which the performance of work satisfied. They were the need
for income, time and energy expenditure, identification and status,
association, and meaningful life experiences. Yet Neff (1968),
in his comprehensive text entitled Work and Human Behavior, began
to question these assertions when he concluded "we are becoming
increasingly aware that the will to work is not a God-given natural
resource, like air and water" (p. 258). Terkel (1972) after inter-
viewing 136 laborers of varying occupations for his best seller,
Working, suggested that perhaps the psychological dehumanization of
modern American working conditions had blunted the traditional "work
ethic." The whirlwind social phenomena of the past two decades may
have altered the position of the work ethic in our society. However,
Wenrich and Wenrich (1974) who made sympathetic reference to several
of the more positive vocational findings above, felt that the work
ethic had retained its importance through the early 1970s.
The closest approximation to a percursor of this study was a
comparison between characteristics of employed and unemployed mentally
retarded males based on their respective backgrounds, evaluations, and
employer ratings (Kolstoe, 1961). Two critical variables distinguished
the two studies. First, Kolstoe's subjects had a median I.Q. of 76
which was in keeping with the earlier American Association on Mental
Deficiency (AAMD) definition of mental retardation being only one
standard deviation from the general population mean (Heber, 1959).
The upper limit for the range of subjects' I.Q.'s in the present study
was 69 on the Wechsler and 67 on the Stanford-Binet for those subjects
between 18 and 25. This was based on the revised AAMD definition in
which two standard deviations below the mean were principal determiners
of mental retardation (Grossman, 1973). Second, the earlier study gauged
successful adjustment according to impressions made on significant
others, i.e., vocational raters and employers. In addition to using
an outside adjustment scale, the present research followed the
suggestion of Edgerton and Bercovici (1976) and determined adjust-
ment through self-concept responses of the subjects themselves.
The assumptions that workers were better adjusted (Brown, 1958)
and had better self-concepts (Friedmann & Havinghurst, 1954) than
nonworkers, had for too long gone untested. This research repre-
sented the first step taken to apprise concerned professionals of
the situation as it existed in 1980.
Statement of the Problem
Employment has long been considered an essential criterion
for adult adjustment of mentally handicapped individuals (Olshansky,
1972). However, a recent study (Edgerton & Bercovici, 1976) cast
doubts on this allegation and concluded that continued "commitment
to a work-ethic may be increasingly counterproductive" (p. 494).
The problem for the present research study concerned employment as
an associate of work adjustment and self-concept. What was the
relationship between employment and the two variables of work adjust-
ment and self-concept among mentally retarded males?
Purpose of the Study
It was the major purpose of this study to compare adult adjust-
ment scores and self-concept scores of employed and unemployed
mentally handicapped males between the ages of 18 and 54. It was the
secondary purpose of this study to determine the subject's satis-
faction with his employment situation, if employed, and to determine
whether the unemployed subject was considered by himself and/or
significant others to be, in fact, employable. It was the tertiary
purpose of this study to investigate the possible effects of the
variables of discrete age groups and location, as well as employment
status, on the mean scores of the administered adult adjustment and
Statement of Hypotheses
1. The independent variable of employment does not alter the
degree of adult adjustment of mentally handicapped adults as
measured by the Social and Prevocational Information Battery
(Halpern, Raffeld, Irvin, & Link, 1975).
2. The independent variable of employment does not alter the
self-concepts of mentally handicapped adults as measured by the
Self-Perception Inventory (Soares & Soares, 1974) (See Appendix B).
3. The independent variables of the subjects' rating of the
adequacy of their employment and the verifiers' rating of the
adequacy of the subjects' employment have no relationship (p. = .05).
4. The independent variables of the subjects' rating of their
employability and the verifiers' rating of the subjects' employ-
ability have no relationship (p. = .05).
The topic for this research was the comparison of the scores
on self-concept and adult adjustment scales of employed and un-
employed mentally handicapped males between the ages of 18 and 54.
Also addressed were the views of the subjects and significant
others in their lives on the adequacy of employment of those
employed and the employability of those unemployed. Subjects for
this study included 40 mentally handicapped males between the ages
of 18 and 54 who resided in the State of Kansas. In addition to
their sex, age, and mental status, subjects were chosen on the basis
of three criteria. They were required to reside outside of an
institution at the time of the study; they must have been considered
capable of competitive employment by qualified professionals; and
they must have expressed a willingness to become involved in the
study. Subjects were secured through the cooperation of the Kansas
Association for Retarded Citizens, local special education instructors,
and job placement coordinators of sheltered workshops.
The age range of 18 to 54 excluded adults over 54 years of age.
This group (54 and above) was excluded as employment limiting
physical disabilities begin to take their toll in the mid 50's and
in later years retirement may have affected the research findings.
Females were excluded from the present study due to the expecta-
tion that a significant number of chosen mentally handicapped females
between the ages of 18 and 54 would have been employed as housewives.
Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary (1974) defined a housewife as "a
married woman in charge of a household" (p. 555). It was determined
by this researcher that the unavoidable extraneous variables which
would be introduced into a design in which housewives were included
would seriously threaten the validity of this study. These variables
included the lack of a formal wage arrangement, the inconsistency
of a job description, and the absence of a recognized employer.
For the purpose of this research the assumptions were made
that (a) both subjects and significant others responded in accord-
ance with their actual perception of reality in answering respective
questions and (b) individuals classified as mentally handicapped
were, in fact, mentally handicapped. Realizing that this classifi-
cation was arbitrary, no satisfactory measure of adaptive behavior
had, by the date of this study, been made available for research.
Definition of Terms
Advocate: one providing services to an unemployed mentally
handicapped individual; includes, in order of selection, voluntary
advocates, social workers, Supplementary Security Income contact
persons, VISTA volunteers, clergy, and associates who take an active
interest in the subject.
Mentally handicapped: mentally retarded; having been classified
as mentally retarded during one's public school career by one's
school psychologist or by the Division of Health and Rehabilitative
Services in later years by a psychologist appointed for determining
one's recipient status.
Mentally retarded: mentally handicapped.
Employed: presently salaried in a competitive occupational
Rural: residential area having a population of less than 50,000.
Self-Perception Inventory (SPI): measure of how the subject sees
Social and Prevocational Information Battery (SPIB): series of
nine tests designed to assess knowledge of skills and competencies
widely considered critical for the ultimate community adjustment of
mentally retarded individuals.
Unemployed: presently unsalaried.
Urban: residential area having a population exceeding 50,000.
Verifier: one used for confirmation or substantiation.
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
This section divided the literature reviewed into six sub-
sections to be used as focal points for the study. The subsec-
tions are (a) the work ethic in Western society, (b) employment
of mentally handicapped adults, (c) adult adjustment, (d) adult
adjustment of mentally handicapped individuals, (e) self-percep-
tions held by mentally handicapped persons and the perceptions of
mentally handicapped persons held by significant others, and (f)
adaptive behavior and self-concept rating scales. Each subsection
was determined to be directly relevant to the research project.
The Work Ethic in Western Society
The status of the work ethic in Western society was of funda-
mental importance in the compilation of this research project.
Although much popular literature reported a serious ebbing of the
work ethic in Western culture, some writers disputed such an allega-
tion while others defended this alleged ebbing as a natural conse-
quence of poor management (Goodwin, 1972; O'Toole, 1974; Stencel,
1977; Tiffany, Cowan, & Tiffany, 1970).
Anthropologists in this century studied primitive tribes
whose language usage may shed some light on the origins of the
Western work ethic. Although the languages of the tribes of
interest were exceedingly rich in labeling areas of their respec-
tive concerns, there existed no words denoting "work." The lack
of a term for work did not, however, mean that work was absent from
these societies. On the contrary, work was such an integral part of
everyday life that to be awake was synonymous with to be working.
This could well have been the situation in the preliterate West
(Kransberg & Gies, 1975).
In any case, by the Classical Era in the West, an alternative
to work had been embraced at least in theory. Aristotle con-
sidered leisure to be the only life for which man was fit. Six
centuries later, St. Augustine described the ultimate reward for
a good and just life as the eternal leisure of heaven. Work was
regarded as the penalty mankind paid for original sin.
Although the work ethic, as it is known today, began to take
shape in Catholic doctrine as early as the Sixth Century, A.D.,
the zeal of the Protestant Reformers such as Luther and Zwingli
was a powerful catalyst in this transformation. In addition to
beggars, courtiers and clergy were called upon to toil in order
that they justify their sustenance. In Zwingli's words, "In the
things of the life, the laborer is most like to God" (Tawney, 1926,
p. 115). Attacking the monastic life of contemplation and prayer,
Martin Luther felt there was no substitute for a tangibly productive
vocation. He considered work to be the base and the key to life
(Kransberg & Gies, 1975).
Many of the explorers and early settlers who came to the New
World did not share this veneration for labor. Columbus himself,
upon seeing the tropical vegetation along the verdant shoreline,
described the land as a second Garden of Eden where food was avail-
able simply for the picking. Over a century later and a thousand
miles north, Captain John Smith of Virginia was commissioned to map
the relatively barren New England coast. He was so impressed by
its potential that he concluded a three-day work week would
sufficiently provide for any settler. No suggestions were made of
somehow filling this proposed idle time with work. As the 13
colonies became settled, a distinctive leisure class was formed.
This was composed of men who owned slaves or hired indentured servants.
Man's worth and freedom was inextricably bound to his exemption from
work. Gentility became synonymous with leisure (Rodgers, 1978).
By 1850 the Protestant work ethic was firmly entrenched in the
United States with its greatest emphasis in the populous North. The
seeds had been planted by the Puritans and Quakers who brought with
them from Europe the concepts of methodical labor and avoidance of
idleness as articles of faith. During the 17th and 18th centuries
in Europe, the spark of the work ethic was kindled by the writings
of philosophers and economists. John Locke, the English essayist,
put forth the proposition that all property acquired its title from
labor. Equally heretical to the landed gentry was the claim by
Adam Smith, the Scottish economist, that labor was the ultimate source
of wealth (Rodgers, 1978). From 1820, when immigration records
were first kept, to 1850 almost one-half million European
immigrants came to America, many espousing the Protestant work
ethic (Braddock, Neuhauser, & Reed, 1978). By the mid-nineteenth
century, the thriving middle class in the northern part of the
United States was decidedly influenced by this concept. At either
end of the American spectrum, the wealthy aristocracy or the urban
laborers, the reception to the work ethic was considerably less
enthusiastic. Possibly due to the relative sparsity of the leisure
class in the North, the middle class was able to set the tone for
the rest of society. As the idea of labor for its own sake gained
in popularity, politicians seized the concept and used it for their
own purposes. The statesman, William Evarts, became but one of many
when he said "Labor, gentlemen, we of the free States acknowledge to
be the source of all our wealth, of all our progress, of all our
dignity and value" (Foner, 1970, p. 12).
Contrary to common belief, the work ethic which blossomed in
the United States around 1850 did not consist solely of the
Protestant moralists' fear of idleness and the doctrine of usefulness.
Two other ingredients caused it to transcend fundamentalist religious
values in its attractiveness. These additional elements were the
dream of success and the idea that work could be both a creative and
a fulfilling act (Rodgers, 1978). Literature on the self-made man
who toiled incessantly and was rewarded by fame and wealth burgeoned
across America. Referring to the creative potential of the laborer,
Thomas Carlyle wrote "A small Poet every Worker is" (1918, 236).
Inherent contradictions, which would later be forced into the
open, were not addressed at the time. These contradictions
included the disparity between creativity and self-repression on
the one hand and between social obligation and private benefits
on the other. To encapsulate the Protestant work ethic of 130 years
ago, work was considered to be the focus of the moral life. It put
men to good use in a world of economic want. It combatted doubts
and temptations that fed on idleness. It allowed for deserved wealth
and status. Finally, it permitted a man to leave the imprint of his
own mind and skill on the material world.
Industrialization, which was only emerging in the United States
in 1850, went a long way toward destroying the work ethic as it was
at that time conceived. The industrial age in America received its
first impetus in 1820 when a textile mill was built in Lowell,
Massachusetts. Soon other mills sprang up and the small craft shop
was unwittingly put on the long, but inevitable, road to extinction.
Factories existed prior to this time, but rarely consisting of more
than a dozen laborers. Gutman (1973) described a New York ship-
building factory of the mid-nineteenth century as the scene of
frequent refreshment breaks, some of them for grog, where a high
degree of cameraderie was evident. This type of labor leniency was
representative of the time (Kranzberg & Gies, 1975). Industrializa-
tion eroded the existing work ethic in several ways. Before the
Civil War in the United States, Northerners decried slavery as
inhumane in that poor laborers toiled for the wealth of their masters.
In the latter part of the nineteenth century, when Northern factories
employed thousands of workers in substandard conditions with low
wages, the parallel to the antebellum South was inescapable.
Flying in the face of the success literature of the time was the
eventual realization of industrial workers that climbing the
vertical ladder to wealth and fame was, for most workers, just
fiction. Any hope for artistic fulfillment went by the wayside
when "efficiency" for increased production became the byword of
the day. Finally, the asceticism of the Protestant ethic gave way
to middle-class accumulation. One of the most significant changes
during the industrial period was the moralists' relegation of work
from an essential to an instrumental virtue (Rodgers, 1978).
In 1866 the first convention of the National Labor Union was
held. This was the first national labor federation in the United
States. It lasted hardly a decade but was soon replaced by the
more resilient American Federation of Labor. As the Labor Movement
increased in strength, many of the harsher working conditions were
improved (Karson, 1958). However, the destructive effects of
industrialization on the work ethic appear not to have been
Two depressions and two World Wars between 1870 and 1945
effectively punctuated the labor concerns of the American worker.
After World War II, a second threat to the work ethic appeared in
the form of mechanization/automation. By 1960 the age of automation
had caused service workers (salespersons, government employees,
maintenance workers, etc.) to replace those in manufacturing as the
predominant work group in the American labor force. Automation
caused further specialization in employment positions from the
already-specialized industrial age. The few crafts which remained
or evolved in the modern age were subdivided in the constant
corner-cutting toward greater efficiency and higher productivity.
The creation of "knowledge jobs" in which supervisors decided for
maintenance men which areas received priority was but one example
of this phenomenon. Thus, little room for personal fulfillment
appeared to be afforded the worker. A study by Heisler and Houck
(1977) concluded that no more than 25 percent of industrial workers
were job-oriented. The study admitted that most would continue
working even if they did not need the money but only because they
were presented with no meaningful alternatives. Blue collar workers
were seen as still accepting the need for work butnot expecting
much fulfillment from their present job. Tiffany et al. (1970)
reached the dreary conclusion that "income has become the sole
standard of work satisfaction" (p. 104).
The question inevitably arose as to the role the American
welfare policies of the 1960's and 1970's played in the degeneration
of the work ethic. Evidence presented, both against and in favor of
the present welfare system, left the issue in doubt. According to
Goodwin (1972), the recipients of welfare valued work initially as
much as the mainstream of society. However, they tended to lose
interest in work when they discovered that their efforts to acquire
and maintain employment were futile. Stencel (1977) wrote about
the current disdain for the work ethic among teenagers, especially
black youth. Four elements worked against the successful job
maintenance of this subgroup. They possessed extremely limited job
qualifications; welfare kept them in food, clothing, and housing;
an integral component of their social system was dependence on
women; and, most importantly, "easy money" (through illegal activity)
was readily available. This study showed that all teenagers
exhibited a disregard for the work ethic. They became more demanding
about the kind of work they would do, their hours of employment, and
the amount of money to be earned, while at the same time, exhibited
shoddy work habits. Noticeable deficits were observed in punctuality,
cooperation with peers, acceptance of supervision, and combining
personal problems with the employment situation. While the effects
of welfare on the work ethic were inconclusive, there was little
disagreement that the American welfare system as it existed was not
the answer to America's poverty problem (Costello, 1977).
In a vocational education text, Wenrich and Wenrich (1974)
insisted that the old-fashioned work ethic continued to thrive in
this country. It was, perhaps, telling to note that none of the
references they cited (Brown, 1958; Friedmann & Havighurst, 1954;
Herzberg et al., 1959) in support of this proposition had been
published within the past two decades when the brunt of automation
had been felt. In contrast to the Wenrich and Wenrich work, Terkel
(1972) spoke of the daily humiliations of work, of workers who
compared themselves to robots, whose only human actions were at the
beginning and end of the work day. "In between, I don't even try to
think" (p. 5). Neff (1968) asserted that some people did not really
succeed in work in spite of having the requisite mental and physical
abilities. Edgerton and Bercovici (1976) found that their subjects
rarely mentioned work as being necessary for their self-esteem.
They viewed work not as fulfilling, but as a means to purchasing
power. Those on welfare were neither self-conscious about the
fact nor eagerly searching for employment.
An independent task force, headed by James O'Toole, recently
issued a report on the relationship between work and the quality
of life (O'Toole, 1974). Much of the blame on the recognized lack
of incentive to work industriously was placed, not on the individual
worker, but on the entire philosophy upon which the American work-
world exists. According to much of the evidence amassed in the report,
high absenteeism, "soldiering" on-the-job, and voluntary unemployment
are basically unorganized rebellions against dull, meaningless jobs.
Other causes of discontent were the attempted molding of human
workers into time-efficiency machines by adherents of Taylor's
scientific management movement (1911), the hugeness of work organiza-
tions relegating the individual laborer to an increasingly minute
position within the organization, and the gradual yet continual
attrition of self-employment options. Comparing the fledgling
worker movement toward better quality of life with the Negro and
woman's equality movements of the past two decades, O'Toole
hypothesized three events which would be necessary before a wide-
spread demand for change could occur. First, conditions must have
been improving. Second, the issue must have been crystallized and
finally, possible alternatives must have been known. The author
contended that each of these events were occurring but at an early
stage. His suggestions for the improvement of the quality of the
working life included the redesigning of jobs, increased wages for
those jobs considered the least desirable and mid-career training
for those in undesirable jobs who would otherwise be faced with no
options until retirement or death.
The preponderance of available literature on the work ethic
in the United States pointed to a disintegration of the concept due
to the inclusion of two variables in the labor situation during the
past century-and-a-half. Industrialization made its full impact
felt in the latter half of the last century and automation added
its thrust during the past 30 years. Whatever the causes of this
unsettling predicament may appear to have been, the research on
America's newest group of workers, adolescents, gave little promise
for improvement in the near future. However, the problem is being
increasingly recognized for what it is, which is an important step
in its eventual remediation. Efforts such as O'Toole's, if heeded,
may be a crucial second step in the resolution of this national
Employment of Mentally Handicapped Adults
This subsection of the Review of Relevant Literature deals with
mentally handicapped adults as workers. As is evident from the
following, the handicapped worker's status has been subject to the
foibles of influential employers and educators during his lifetime.
Little is known about the vocational success of mentally handi-
capped persons in the United States prior to the twentieth century.
Between 1776 and the mid-1800's adolescents were apprenticed to
skilled craftsmen for job training. However, few such positions
were available to handicapped individuals as the competition for
apprenticeship was vigorous and retarded persons could expect to
perform unskilled labor at best. In 1848, Samual Gridley Howe
established the first training program for those with mental retarda-
tion. This approach, which began a trend, emphasized the acquisition
of a specific occupational skill as the sole prerequisite for success-
ful employment of a mentally handicapped worker. By 1890 job failures
among retarded persons caused educators to rethink their strategy of
relying on a specific job skill. In fact, between 1890 and World War
I, little in the way of vocational training was attempted. This was
a period of paternalistic treatment in which handicapped persons
worked in institutions but were not trained in acquiring skills
(Hewett & Forness, 1974).
In 1916, Bernstein organized a colony in upstate New York.
This colony consisted of mentally retarded persons who were released
from an institution, participating in supervised labor and living
together in group homes. By 1921 the number of colonies had
expanded to the degree that one-third of the educable mentally
retarded institutional population of New York State had moved into
colonies and were productively working. The same year in New York
City a private agency, the Vocational Adjustment Bureau, was
established to find jobs for mentally retarded and emotionally
disturbed individuals. In the meantime, World War I had taken
place, putting many non-handicapped persons into uniform and many
mentally retarded, at least temporarily, into their vacated
positions (Hewett & Forness, 1974). Some deinstitutionalized
retardates who found employment at this time were described by
Just as its predecessor, World War II caused the opening of
many employment opportunities for retarded workers. In 1943
the Barden-LaFollette Act was passed which added Office of Vocational
Rehabilitation services to mentally retarded persons. Twelve years
later, an important step forward was taken in employment opportunities
for mentally handicapped persons, when the New York City public
schools and Office of Vocational Rehabilitation combined their
efforts and established a formal cooperative program. Over much of
the country this example was followed (Brolin, 1976).
Beginning in the 1950's and continuing until the present, docu-
mentation of vocational efforts of mentally handicapped individuals
h-s been extensive. A report was received of a survey of 1,144
mentally retarded persons considered uneducable showing that 14
percent of the women and 26 percent of the men were gainfully
employed (City of Birmingham, England, 1956). No mention was made
of any training attempts for these people. In 1960, mentally
retarded workers and nonhandicapped (but low socio-economically-
based) workers who had graduated from the same high school were
compared in employment situations as well as other areas. Handicapped
workers had a significantly higher unemployment rate, received
lower wages, and labored at lower status jobs than members of the
comparison group (Peterson & Smith, 1960). Dinger (1961) emphasized
the positive vocational adjustments of retarded adults. He conducted
a study in which he determined that over 83 percent of those who
had graduated from or otherwise left the public school system in
Altoona, Pennsylvania, were either employed, continuing their
education, or working as full-time housewives. Forty-two percent
of those queried who still lived in Altoona were receiving higher
wages than a beginning Pennsylvania school teacher ($3,600 in 1958).
Countering Dinger's employment findings, Keeler (1964) reported
that in San Francisco area only 40 percent of the mentally handi-
capped population was employed either full or part-time. However,
Baller, Charles, and Miller (1967) found that in Lincoln, Nebraska,
almost 80 percent of the former students with I.Q. scores of less
than 70 were fairly regularly employed. Kidd (1970) concurred by
determining that 86 percent of the former students of educable
mentally retarded (EMR) classes in an urban area were employed full-
time. Several other studies have been completed, giving the employment
situation of mentally handicapped adults high marks (Kelley & Simon,
1969; Posner, 1970) or low ones (Brolin & Wright, 1971; Tobias, 1970).
Due to the multitude of conflicting reports, coupled with the lack of
definitive criteria for vocational success, no firm statement can be
made at this time concerning the state of the art of the employment
situation for mentally handicapped adults.
More light can be shed on the determiners of successful
employment for a retarded individual. As was mentioned earlier,
in the last century a specific job skill was thought to be the only
essential ingredient for a handicapped worker to succeed. By the
turn of the century, this idea was recognized as being incorrect,
but rather than attempt a different tack, vocational habilitation
was largely ignored. In the late 1960's researchers began to look
for significant variables in vocational success for retarded
individuals. A study by Chaffin (1968) pointed to the rate of
production as being an important component of success. Also shown
to be critical success factors were manual dexterity (Sali &
Amir, 1971) and language and communication skills (Fiester &
Giambra, 1972). Of extreme importance was the finding of indepen-
dent researchers that neither specific job skill nor intelligence
within the range of educable mental retardation were critical
variables for employment success. Instead, personal adjustment
skills and work habits were found to be of prime significance for
job acquisition and maintenance (Domingo & McGarty, 1972; Neuhaus,
1967; Sali & Amir, 1971).
Several recent studies addressed job satisfaction as it
related to performance, severely handicapped workers and the current
plight of the retarded worker. Talkington and Overbeck (1976)
explored the relationship between expressed satisfaction or
dissatisfaction with work assignments and the actual performance
of these assignments. The results mirrored those of similar studies
performed with nonhandicapped populations. Job satisfaction was
found to be highly related to attendance, reliability, and general
Two studies related to the severely mentally handicapped
worker. Jacobs (1978) contested Wolfensberger's (1967) statement
that farming as a variable employment source for severely retarded
workers was no longer practical by citing his own experiences with
an agricultural project in the rural Southeast. There severely
retarded trainees were taught to glean crops after harvesting.
Gleaning is the collection of the remainder of the crops left
over after the crops have been harvested. He predicted an eventual
annual income of as much as $5,000.00 with as little as 20 percent
of the cost of a sheltered workshop. Most importantly, the
farmers were beginning to recognize a need for these workers and
were scheduling their services months in advance. Bellamy, Inman,
andYeates (1978) performed research on three severely retarded
workers in a sheltered workshop where cable harnesses were manu-
factured. The three workers were given $.02 instead of $.01 if their
harnesses were completed before a set timer went off. This timing
was calculated on the average completion time for the subjects
which was gauged earlier. Under the timer contingency method two
of the three subject's production rose such that it approached the
industrial time standard of nonhandicapped workers. In addition to
a reduction in task completion time, day-to-day production consistency
According to Razeghi and Davis (1979), the situation of the
retarded worker at the end of the 1970's was a bleak one with few
causes for optimism. As recently as 1974, the authors stated,
only two percent of the 13 million students served in vocational
education were handicapped. Citing Hightower (1975) the authors
claimed that only 21 percent of the educable mentally retarded were
fully employed, 40 percent were underemployed, and 26 percent were
unemployed. However, the coordination of the efforts of the
United States Office of Education and the Rehabilitative Services
Administration may result in a positive change for this subgroup of
American society. By consolidating relevant aspects of their
policies toward handicapped persons, these two government agencies
were in the process of combining the strengths of recent legislation
on the rights of the handicapped.
Beginning with the history of the employment of mentally handi-
capped persons in the United States, this section of the review of
relevant literature examined numerous studies on their vocational
success. Conflicting findings and the lack of a firm definition
of vocational success resulted in no conclusion being accepted
regarding this concept. Inroads within the past decade have been
made concerning critical factors in vocational success for retarded
workers. Recent research with severely mentally handicapped workers
showed them accomplishing vocational goals considered impossible
only a few years ago. Finally, vocational education was reported as,
until recently, shirking its obvious obligations toward the handi-
capped. The same study gave the unemployment rate of educable
mentally retarded individuals as several times that of the
regular work force.
According to Eisdorfer and Lawton (1973) a consistent
developmental perspective of the human personality, from infancy
through old age, has yet to be published. Having discovered
little to dispute this assertion, the present researcher presented
different fragmented perspectives as they appeared in modern psycho-
The concept of adjustment was borrowed by psychology from its
biological origins in Charles Darwin's philosophy of "survival of
the fittest" (1859). Just as man is influenced by physical demands,
he also must make certain adjustments to social pressures. These
are demands which arise from living interdependently with others.
The pressures begin when the infant is expected to accede to the
parents' expectation that he will acquire proper values and behavior
patterns. They continue through much, if not all, of adulthood
when the parents continue their expectations, now regarding marriage,
career, residence, and life style (Lazarus, 1961). The demands to
which the individual must respond are of two kinds. They are
external and internal demands. External demands arise from social as
well as physical conditions of existence. Beginning with simple
tasks, such as self-feeding in early childhood, the demands subtly
progress as the child matures psychologically. Gradually, concepts
and values become components of his repertoire. If the child fails
to comply with the parents' expectations, he is greeted with dis-
approval and other negative consequences. If the child's
behavior measures up to his parents' demands, he is rewarded
with approval and other positive consequences. Internal demands
begin with physical needs within the individual, such as the need
to drink, to eat, or to eliminate waste. During development,
internal social needs arise. These include the need for human
companionship, for social approval, for self-esteem, and for love.
Demands can cause conflicts in one of three possible ways. Two
internal needs can be in opposition to each other; two external
needs can be incompatible; and an internal need may oppose an
external demand. An example of two conflicting internal needs
occurs when one's desire for love and approval must be weighed against
the desire for social prestige. The competition for the prestige
could easily result in diminished love and approval. External
demands could be opposed when each parent attempts to influence the
offspring's personality in different directions. The third conflict,
internal versus external needs, can be illustrated in the parents
sending their son to a boarding school for academic development
when the child is in extreme need of parental companionship (Lazarus,
Adjustment can be classified into one of two types, achievement
or process. As achievement, evaluation is implied. In this
situation four classes of criteria may be used. These are psycho-
logical comfort, work efficiency, physical symptoms, and social
acceptance. Lazarus (1961) admitted to certain limitations in
applying the criteria. Cultural relativism cannot be totally
removed as a variable. That is, different cultures apply different
standards for behavior. Second, someone may be considered well-
adjusted by one of the four criteria and maladjusted by another.
Third, even within one culture, "adequacy" of adjustment is an
arbitrary term, as yet bound by no standard. Adjustment as a process
focuses on how exactly does one adjust. Two types of adjustment
processes have been named. The first consists of the modification
or inhibition of internal impulses. The second results in the
alteration in some way of the environmental demand.
Piaget (1952) incorporated the two types of adjustment processes
into his theory of cognitive development. For Piaget, intelligence
is defined as an adaptive process in which there is a balance between
assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation is the process by
which the individual fits the environment to biologic or mental
systems already in existence. Accommodation is the process by which
the individual modifies himself in order to fit the environment.
Riesman (1950) drew a dichotomy between the inner-directed and the
other-directed individual. The former carries his values and
standards of conduct with him and does not change them to accommodate
the social climate of the times. The other-directed person is easily
influenced by outside pressures to change his value system.
Just as Piaget's last developmental stage, formal operations,
begins at approximately 11 years of age, most developmental theories
concentrate on the childhood years. The above perspectives are no
exception. They were summarized in this review in order to set the
stage for adult adjustment. Yet before focusing on the psycho-
logical development of the adult, the preceding period must be
briefly addressed, that of adolescence. Garrison, in his
Psychology of Adolescence (1965), used Maslow's hierarchy of needs
as a basis from which to determine the needs of the adolescent.
In order of importance, these needs are physiological, safety,
belongingness and love, status or esteem, and self-actualization
(Maslow, 1954). By adolescence the last three needs have achieved
predominance. Using a 90 item questionnaire, Lucas and Horrocks
(1960) were able to subdivide these needs further and develop a
hierarchy based on the responses of 725 adolescents. Through factor
analysis five identifiable needs emerge. In order of priority these
are recognition-acceptance, heterosexual affection and attention,
independence-dominance regarding adults, conformity to adult expecta-
tions, and academic achievement. As the youth matures, the possibilities
of frustration due to the inability or delay in satisfying these needs
increase. Areas of activity in which these outlets may be found
include relationships, work, recreation, community service, mis-
behavior or delinquency, and neurotic traits and illness (Laycock,
1950). Any one of four types of adjustment may occur when an
adolescent is frustrated in his efforts to satisfy a need. He may
continue toward the goal, compromise the goal, distort the original
goal, or withdraw entirely from the goal (Garrison, 1965).
Although many theories of adult psychological development exist,
few theorists are in basic agreement on substantive issues in the
field. According to Levinson (1978) the most promising school of
thought in this area is that which splintered from Freud's school
of depth psychology. This theory of personality included both
conscious and unconscious aspects and showed how childhood
personality development had a great influence on one's adult life.
The father of the modern study of adult development is considered
to be Carl Jung who was an early disciple of Freud and broke away
in 1913 (Levinson, 1978). Jung differed from Freud in two important
spheres. First, he believed Freud focused too narrowly on childhood
development and its influence on adult problems, conflicts, and
creativities. Second, Jung felt that Freud's clinical background
caused him to overemphasize psychopathology and internal processes
and thereby neglect social institutions, religion and mythology. Jung
viewed the young adult as one caught up in emotional involvements
and childhood conflicts. He has difficulty coping with the demands
of family, work, and community. At approximately 20 years of age
his personality has not yet had time to achieve full growth. The
next period of fundamental personality change occurs at around 40
years of age. Here again individuationn" begins. Individuation
means the process of a changing relationship between an individual
and his "self" and also a changing relationship between an individual
and the external world.
A second former devotee of Freud who has had an enormous
influence on modern conceptions of adult psychological development
is Erik Erikson. As his theory evolved, Erikson gravitated toward
Jung, differing in large extent only in his refusal to incorporate
Jung's elements of mysticism. Erikson saw the life cycle as a
series of eight ego stages. The first four cover early and middle
childhood (Erikson, 1950). The fifth stage, which is called
Identity vs. Identity Confusion takes place during adolescence
and extends into the Early Adult Transition. The sixth stage,
entitled Intimacy vs. Isolation, occurs in one's twenties. The
last two stages, Generativity vs. Stagnation and Integrity vs.
Despair, take place at around 40 and 60 respectively (Erikson,
Summarizing current theories of adult personality, Knox (1977)
defined several central themes. The principal theme, in his
opinion, is "the shifting manner in which the person strives to
maintain and enhance his or her sense of self from late adolescence
and young adulthood through middle and old age" (p. 317). Decision-
making, requiring assertiveness, goal setting and self-directedness,
is another theme in adult personality. Decisions result in conflicts
and conflicts (e.g., between personal and social gains) involve
feelings and attitudes. The probability of conflict with age
peers increases with age as the range of individual differences
in most personality characteristics widens between early young adult-
hood and the beginning of old age. Perceived well-being increases
from late adolescence to early adulthood, decreases in early middle
age, goes up again in late middle age before retirement, and
declines again through old age (Knox, 1977).
The fast pace of American society with its constant state of
flux has taken a definite toll on the personality of its citizens
according to Putney and Putney (1964). Distinguishing between the
"normal" (as defined in the cultural relativity of a society) and
the "natural" (which satisfies human needs), the authors insist
that normal neuroses are the rule rather than the exception in
society. Neurosis is defined as an internal, nonorganic barrier
to need fulfillment. Only the relatively rare truly autonomous
person has both the ability and the disposition to conform when
conformance is functional and to innovate when normal behaviors
would leave one's needs unsatisfied.
Recognizing the psychological adjustment problems in modern
society, Tiffany et al. (1970) noted that a new category of mental
disorder was inserted in the American Psychological Association's
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of 1968.
The new category concerned social maladjustments without manifest
psychiatric disorder in which occupational maladjustment appeared.
This classification gave legitimacy to the claim that adjustment
to the world of work was becoming a significant concern to the
This review of relevant literature on adult adjustment began
with the origin of the concept of adjustment with Darwin. Both
physical and psychological aspects of adjustment were presented,
as well as the differentiation between internal and external needs.
Brief summaries of the theoretical perspectives of the founders of
modern developmental psychology were given. The central themes
around which topical adult personality theories are based were
enumerated. The position of normal neuroses in modern society
was addressed and, finally, the possible influence of work on
today's adult adjustment was mentioned.
Adult Adjustment of Mentally Handicapped Individuals
From the establishment of the first experimental school for
"idiotic" children in Massachusetts in the 1840's, special educators
have professed the desire that the retarded individual be given the
services necessary to attain social and vocational competency upon
maturation. The extent to which this goal has been accomplished or
is within range is reflected in the findings of researchers of adult
adjustment of mentally retarded persons.
Throughout much of the second half of the nineteenth century,
institutionalized mental retardates in America were given access to
a substantial degree of vocational training. This training was
Provided with the assumption that the benefactors would in due time
return to their former residences fully habilitated as productive
citizens. By the 1890's the image of the resident of the state
school for the retarded had regressed from that of potential
producer to burden. Three reasons may be ascribed for this failure
to adapt. First, it was popularly thought at the time that only
specific skill training was needed to prepare the retarded individual
for life outside the residential school. Second, no standardized
test to measure intellectual functioning had yet been produced whereby
levels of retardation could be distinguished. Thus, a significant
proportion of the students were severely and profoundly mentally
handicapped. When these individuals did not progress at a satis-
factory rate under the traditional educational methods of the era,
the entire effort was called into question. Third, many of the
residents of state schools were from low socioeconomic backgrounds.
As they had not been trained at the schools in daily living or
personal-social skills, these individuals could not reasonably be
expected to function totally independently upon job placement.
The alternative, a return to their families, was often considered
debilitative due to the marginal existence of the families
Fernald (1893) estimated that only 15 percent of the inmates at
Waverly Institute in Connecticut had the potential for economic and
social independence. Most of the rest could be trained to work on
the grounds at Waverly in exchange for their keep. Later, in a
follow-up study of 1,537 former Waverly inmates who had been dis-
charged during the period between 1890 and 1914, Fernald (1919) was
forced to admit that his early estimates of adjustment success were
incorrect. Most of the dischargees had been given little preparation
for independent living, yet deinstitutionalization was considered
successful for the majority of those who could be located.
In 1916, a man named Bernstein began organizing "colonies" out
of Rome State School in upstate New York. Colonies were semi-
independent facilities which housed students who performed super-
vised labor and thus supported themselves. Within five years,
one-third of the mildly retarded population of New York were either
on leave, on parole, or in colonies. In 1921, in New York City, the
Vocational Adjustment Bureau was established. The function of this
private agency was to find jobs for those with diagnosed emotional
disturbance or mental retardation. In the 1930's, placement of
mentally retarded individuals with families in the community for
care and supervision was introduced (Hewett & Forness, 1974).
A large number of studies on the adjustment of mentally retarded
adults were reported between World War I and the 1950's. Matthews
(1922), in another Waverly study, followed the careers of 100 male
adolescents paroled from the institution. This was a selective
group as each had participated in an organized training regimen prior
to discharge. All but three boys were considered to have made a
satisfactory adjustment to community life. During this period,
criteria for successful adjustment were based on material found on
police and complaint records, marriage records, and any other data
collection on public file. If the individual had avoided public
notice, he was regarded as adjusted. Little and Johnson (1932)
studied the adjustment of parolees from Laconia State School between
1925 and 1930. An 83 percent success rate was determined. Coakley
(1945) reported that the severe shortage of domestic manpower during
World War II created job openings for retarded workers. When the
subjects of Coakley's research attained employment, in spite of
previous mediocre job records, these people were able to maintain
their jobs throughout the duration of the war. Saenger (1957)
studied the adjustment of severely and moderately mentally retarded
adults in New York City between 1929 and 1955. He determined that
two-thirds of the population were living in the community and, of these,
over half impressed the author as being in socially acceptable physical
and mental states.
Adult adjustment studies were abundant in the 1960's.
Peterson and Smith (1960) compared retarded adults with those of
normal intelligence in terms of educational, work, home and family,
and civic characteristics. They noted significant discrepancies
favoring the nonhandicapped population in every area. A recommenda-
tion was made to prepare for adult adjustment of retarded persons
through a well-organized preparation program in the senior high
school. In a Pennsylvania study, Dinger (1961) found mentally
retarded adults to be considerably better adjusted than reported
by Peterson and Smith. Furthermore, he lamented the predominance of
research on the deviancies of retarded individuals and suggested
more emphasis on their respective strengths. Although anecdotal in
nature, Butterfield's (1961) description of an adult with Down's
syndrome and a Stanford-Binet I.Q. range of 28 to 36 appeared to be
a step in the direction suggested by Dinger. As a 32-year-old adult,
this individual "does all of the housework. He does the washing and
ironing, vacuums, makes beds, washes the floors and windows, takes
out the rubbish, runs all of the errands and pays all the bills"
(p. 445). This was a situation in which institutionalization was
recommended and public school educational services were denied
(after age 12). At the same time, Windle, Stewart, and Brown (1961)
pointed toward poor work performance and inadequate interpersonal
relations as the chief causes of failure of institutionalized persons
in vocational leave situations.
Three important longitudinal studies on the adaptability of
retarded individuals were published in the mid-1960's. Edgerton
(1967) described the day-to-day lives of 48 persons who have been
discharged from a state hospital for the mentally handicapped in
California. A central factor in their lives was the stigma
attached to retardation. They attempted, on every occasion, to
cover up the fact that they bore this undesirable label. Under
the pretense that one's watch or glasses were broken, the time-of-
day or sign that identified a bus were asked. Only through the
assistance of unofficial advocates was even marginal adjustment
considered to be achieved. In a follow-up of Baller's (1936, 1939)
earlier research, Baller, Charles, and Miller (1967) showed a mean
gain in I.Q. of 28.6 points for subjects studied over a period of
45 years. This finding flew directly in the face of claims that
measured intelligence was static. Kennedy (1948, 1966), in a
follow-up report comparing retarded individuals with peers of normal
measured intelligence in Connecticut, found considerable upward
employment mobility for the handicapped persons but at a slower
initial rate than the control group. Although employer ratings
scored the handicapped group below the control group in learning,
judgment, and efficiency, they received generally favorable job
ratings and had better absentee and punctuality records than the
In 1970 Carl Haywood leveled specific criticisms at the majority
of reports on the adjustment of retarded adults discharged from
institutions. Cited defects in most of the studies included incon-
sistency in the extent of information gathered, definitions of
adjustment, time factors involved, and sampling procedures used.
Wolfensberger et al. (1972), borrowing from the European concept
of "normalization" (Nirje, 1969), ushered in a new chapter in the
American facilitation of adjustment procedures for handicapped
adults. He called for services "as culturally normative as possible,
in order to establish and/or maintain personal behaviors and
characteristics which are as culturally normative as possible"
(p. 28). In the former article, the curriculum for mildly retarded
secondary students was judged to be too limiting when it was discovered
that graduates were independently finding and keeping higher level jobs
than those for which they were trained. Relying on operant condition-
ing, Gold showed that vocational expectations by trainers in
sheltered workshops were insufficiently challenging for their clients.
Severely retarded adults under Gold's (1972) tutelage were trained to
assemble a 15-piece bicycle brake. A year later the clients were
rechecked and their accuracy was found to have remained at a high
Expressing a current view on the degree of adjustment success
of the deinstitutionalized, Crawford, Aiello, and Thompson (1979)
gave efforts a mixed review at best. They were supported in their
assertion by Conroy (1977) who found that more people were returning
to institutions than were being placed into the community.
Adequate follow-up procedures were recommended as the most critical
component of a proper placement. In their review, Heal, Sigelman,
and Switzky (1978) placed higher priority for successful placement
on the community support system than on the character traits of the
individual being placed. Redding (1979) compared the life adjustment
skills of low socio-economically based cooperative work training
graduates with educable mentally retarded high school graduates
based on their responses to structured questionnaires. Although
based on the criteria used, the nonhandicapped samples exhibited higher
adjustment skills than those with mental retardation; the author noted
that some results favorable to the handicapped were uncovered. Fully
70 percent of the retarded sampled were employed and their mean weekly
salary was over $110.00. With both groups a dearth of leisure time
utilization skills was observed.
Finally, an article by Coffman and Harris (1980) noted the
similarities between adjustment problems faced by deinstitutionalized
retarded adults and those encountered by normal individuals placed
in an alien culture.
This section of relevant literature traced chronologically the
research on adult adjustment of mentally retarded individuals in
America from the 1840's through 1979. Limited data were available
until mid-century. However, since that time pertinent material on
the subject has multiplied in volume.
Self-Perceptions Held by Mentally Handicapped Persons and
Perceptions of Such Persons by Those without Handicaps
The following section of the review of relevant literature
consists of two principal subsections, that concerning the manner
in which the retarded individual viewed himself and that focusing
on the perception others held of the retarded person. In the first
subsection, the following areas regarding the mentally handicapped
individual's self-concept are discussed: consensus on the positive-
ness of the retarded person's self-perception, the effect of
institutionalization on one's self-concept, other lifetime traumas
which may have deep repercussions on the handicapped person's self-
concept, coping in public with one's perceived deficits, variations
in self-concepts and their implications, the devastating combination
of retardation and minority status on self-concept in American
society, the effects of attendance of regular versus special classes
on self-perception, and the changing role of stigma in adult adjust-
Unfortunately, as of this writing, no clear consensus has been
attained regarding the feelings a mentally handicapped person
harbors toward himself. However, most of the studies which have
attempted to discover this have concluded that a more negative than
average self-concept exists (Collins, Burger, & Koherty, 1970;
Harrison & Budoff, 1972; Piers & Harris, 1964). Edgerton and
Sabagh (1962) discussed the possible metamorphosis of a retarded
person's self-concept upon institutionalization. According to their
theory, individuals entering institutions for the mentally retarded
fit roughly into two groups: those already mortified and those who
had thus far refused to accept the stigma of mental retardation. A
paradox presented itself as the psychologically healthier status of
acceptance of condition, which would probably result in an ideal
inmate, would consign the individual to a permanent institutional
stay. In contrast, those refusing to accept their assigned condi-
tion would have the better chance of successful adjustment upon
deinstitutionalization. Aggrandizement, or reconstruction of the
self-concept, was given a fair chance of occurrence through the
modes of peer-group relationships, relations with employees, and
comparisons with the more severely retarded population. However,
the self-concept which would evolve would be dependent on continued
institutionalization for its sustenance.
Lazarus (1961), analyzing autobiographies of physically impaired
persons with implications for retarded individuals, depicted two
periods in their lives when the handicap could profoundly affect
their self-concept. The first would occur the initial occasion a
child realized he was not totally like other children. The second
lasted throughout adolescence when the teenager "has to cope with
two kinds of persisting overlapping situations, that owing to his
disability and that owing to his transitional status as child-adult"
(p. 185). In his report on community living patterns of mildly
handicapped adults, Edgerton (1967) noted a sense of shame due to
skill deficits and former institutionalization which caused a
defensiveness on their part. In an effort to become accepted as
equals to their peers of normal intelligence, handicapped individuals
would wear a recognized status symbol, a watch. When they were
asked the time or needed to know the time for another reason, these
people became trapped in a true bind as they lacked time-telling
skills. Their method of coping with the situation was to claim the
watch was broken. In the same year that Edgerton's work was
published, Cleland, Patton, and Seitz (1967) compared insults given
out by mentally handicapped persons and business school students
toward hypothetical adversaries. Whereas the students cast
aspersions at someone's character, the handicapped individuals
berated his intelligence. The latter two studies provide additional
evidence pointing to a negative self-concept for the mentally
retarded person. Chinn (1979) reported that retarded members of
minority groups had their self-perceptions threatened by prejudices
against both their ethnic status and their measured intelligence.
Responding to employers' complaints of lack of motivation among this
group, Chinn cited the sparsity of appropriate work-oriented modeling
and lack of encouragement by significant others as factors responsible
for this situation.
Within the parameters of mental retardation, variation in self-
concept has been claimed to cause variation in learning ability.
Strong correlations have been shown between high self-concept and
both school grades and intelligence (Brookover, Erickson, & Joiner,
1967; Snyder, 1966). Using questionnaires to gauge the relationship
between self-concept and learning ability both Hardy (1967) and Wink
(1963) reached the conclusion that retarded adolescents with high
self-concepts learned better at first and are less prone to let later
negative reinforcement stymie this process.
The relationship between the effects of regular versus special
classes on the self-concept of retarded students has been the
subject of numerous studies. While the findings concerning the
effects of special class placement on self-concept included lowing
it (Borg, 1966; Meyerowitz, 1965), and not changing it significantly
(Bacher, 1965; Knight, 1967; Nash & McQuisten, 1977), most of the
evidence pointed toward improving it (Carroll, 1967; Drews, 1962;
Towne, Joiner, & Schurr, 1967). In a follow-up of the Towne et al.
(1967) study, Schurr and Brookover (1967) found that the self-concept
scores of special class students continued to rise for a full year
and a half after the period covered in the original research.
In Edgerton and Bercovici's (1976) follow-up of Edgerton's
(1967) descriptive report of community living, a change was noted
in the subject's placement of stigma on their hierarchy of personal
values. Previously, it was reported that the stigma of being
mentally retarded was one of the central components of the everyday
lives of most of these individuals. Much of their time was spent
attempting to "pass" as persons of normal intelligence. Yet, the
latter research showed that "passing" retained its importance with
only five of the 30 subjects interviewed. In fact, notwithstanding
a lack of vocational success among a significant proportion of the
group, "many of these people appear to define themselves as normal"
In the second subsection, which concerned the perceptions of
mentally handicapped persons by those without handicaps, four
conceptual areas were discussed. They were the significance of
inappropriate behavior in causing prejudice against educable
mentally retarded children by their teachers and peers, regular
versus special education classes as variables in determining peer
attitudes toward mentally handicapped children, attitudes of members
of the business-industrial sector, landlords, parents and outsiders
toward mentally handicapped individuals, and European attitudes
toward retarded persons.
Johnson (1950) did research on two communities which included
educable mentally retarded students in regular classes without
additional services. Acceptance scores by peers decreased in rela-
tion to the decrease of I.Q.'s of respective EMR students.
Baldwin (1958) studied a school situation in which certain criteria
were used in determining EMR students eligible for regular class
placement. In spite of this selectivity, the social acceptance of
the eligible retarded students was much lower than the social
acceptance of those students not considered retarded. The principal
reason given for lack of acceptance in each of the above studies was
not academic limitations but inappropriate behavior. Dexter (1958)
reported that deviant behavior could well be a factor in special
class placement but defined this behavior as the natural response
to inappropriate treatment by the handicapped child's peers and
Research on attendance of EMR students in regular classes had
done little to support Dunn's (1968) contention that integrated
learning situations result in positive attitudinal change on the
part of nonhandicapped populations. Goldstein, Moss, and Jordon
(1965) did show that nonhandicapped children played more often
after school with mentally handicapped peers who attended regular
classes than with those who were enrolled in special classes.
However, it must be noted that some social contact, important in
establishing after-school playmates, would occur in integrated
classes and would be lacking in segregated ones. Goodman,
Gottlieb, and Harrison (1972) determined that in a nongraded
elementary school, integrated EMR students were accepted less often
and rejected more often than their nonhandicapped peers. Gottlieb
and Budoff (1973) compared peer acceptance of nonhandicapped
students, segregated EMR students, and integrated EMR students
in nongraded schools. The integrated EMR group were rated as the
least accepted. Finally, lano, Ayers, Heller, McGettigan, and
Walker (1974) decided to gauge the acceptance rate of educable
mentally handicapped students who had previously attended special
classes and had been mainstreamed into the regular classroom with
additional advantage of a supportive resource room program. These
were no better accepted than those reported in the above studies.
Two hundred members of the business-industrial sector were
interviewed by researchers for Baltimore Goodwill in order to deter-
mine prospects for job placement in that city. Based on the
questionnaire results, the best job opportunities for handicapped
persons were in the areas of clerical, food services, custodial,
service stations, and upholstery. The areas in which the handi-
capped applicant would stand the least chance of attaining employment
were those of sales and laundry. Businessmen expressed a greater
amount of concern with work attitudes and motivation than with
technical skills (Stewart, 1977).
An attempt was made to determine whether wage-earning mildly
retarded adults would be subject to discrimination from landlords
in the New Paltz, New York, area. The subjects of the study were
100 landlords who advertised apartments for less than $200.00 per
month. Two phone calls were made to the landlords. The first was
from an anonymous renter who asked ten specific questions concern-
ing the advertised apartment (e.g., what the rent included, avail-
ability of shopping area). After receiving answers to the questions
posed, the renter politely informed the landlord that he had decided
not to rent the apartment. The second call was reputedly from an
advocate of a mildly retarded individual who had attained a job
within the general area of the apartment in question. To the first
caller all 100 responses were encouraging. To the second caller,
only one truly encouraging response was forthcoming. Sixty-four
said they would not rent to the retarded person, either because
the apartment was already rented (one-half hour after the first
call), or because they did not trust the capability of the retarded
person to be an adequate tenant (Trippi, Michael, Colao, & Alvarez,
Four one-half hour television programs depicting retarded
individuals in a positive light were shown with the expressed
purpose of favorably altering mothers' attitudes toward their
retarded offspring. Of the 18 concerns of parents addressed, only
four showed positive attitudinal change on the part of parents
after viewing the programs. The author (Baran, 1979) suggested
that even such a modest change was a step in the right direction
and it was perhaps expecting too much to anticipate that four tele-
vision programs could erase a lifetime of feelings and experiences.
In the second subsection of this section, the following areas
regarding perceptions of mentally handicapped persons by those with-
out handicaps are discussed: the attitudes of mothers toward their
handicapped children, differences in public attitudes toward mildly
and severely handicapped persons, and the effects of the label
"mentally retarded" on individuals' perceptions of the causes of
one's task completions.
Graduate students in a clinical practicum in mental retardation
and mothers randomly chosen from a university community were exposed
to videotapes of mother/child interaction. In each videotape a mother
and her child were involved in a 15-minute play session. Nonretarded
as well as retarded children were labeled as such and half the time
they were not. Both graduates and mothers rated the retarded children
more likable when they were labeled but both groups also placed
labeled and nonlabeled retarded children farther from themselves on
the social scale than the nonretarded children (Seitz & Geske, 1976).
In the second study, Siperstein and Gottlieb (1978) found that public
attitudes toward mildly retarded individuals were considerably more
favorable than those toward severely mentally retarded persons.
Lastly, Severance and Gasstrom (1977) administered booklets containing
two case studies to 96 female undergraduates. The cases described
either successes or failures at task completion. In half of the
successes, as well as the failures, the label "mentally retarded"
was included in the child's description. Using Frieze and Weiner's
(1971) attribution of four sets of causal elements (skill, motiva-
tion, difficulty, and luck) by which social perceivers explain the
behaviors and outcomes of others as the basis for their research,
the authors questioned the undergraduates as to which elements
dominated in their case studies. For the children randomly labeled
retarded, failures were seen as more along ability related lines and
effort (or lack of it) was blamed at a higher rate for non-labeled
failures. Regarding success, a retarded person was thought to exert
more effort than a person not labeled retarded.
After research in Europe, Lippman (1972) concluded that
Europeans generally possessed a more positive attitude toward the
handicapped person than Americans did. This attitude was brought
home to America in Wolfensberger et al.'s (1972) work entitled
Normalization. The concept of normalization, borrowed from Scandinavia
(Nirje, 1969), and defined in the Adult Adjustment of Mentally Handi-
capped Individual's section of this literature review, promised to
have a profound influence on American treatment of retarded adults.
This section of the review of relevant literature consisted of
two subsections: Self-Perceptions Held by Mentally Handicapped
Persons and Perceptions of Such Persons by Those Without Handicaps.
The first subsection contained consecutively: consensus on the
positveness of the retarded person's self-concept, the effect of
institutionalization on one's self-concept, other lifetime traumas
which may have deep repercussions on the handicapped person's
self-perception, coping in public with one's perceived deficits,
variations in self-concepts and their implications, the devastating
combination of retardation and minority status on self-concept in
American society, the effects of attendance of regular versus
special classes on self-perception and the changing role of stigma
in adult adjustment. The second subsection contained consecutively:
the significance of inappropriate behavior in causing prejudice
against mentally retarded children by their peers and teachers,
regular versus special education classes as variables in determining
peer attitudes toward mentally handicapped children, attitudes of
members of the business-industrial sector, landlords, parents, and
the general public toward mentally handicapped individuals, and
European attitudes toward retarded persons.
Adaptive Behavior and Self-Concept Rating Scales
According to the AAMD manual, adaptive behavior is "the
effectiveness or degree with which an individual meets the standards
of personal independence and social responsibility expected of his
age and cultural groups" (Grossman, 1973, p. 11). Criteria for
successful adaptive behavior begin with sensory-motor communication,
self-help, and socialization skills in the early years of life and
end with daily living, vocational, and social abilities in adulthood
Adaptive behavior scales applicable for usage with educable
mentally handicapped adults are limited in number. The most
commonly mentioned are the AAMD Adaptive Behavior Scale and the
Vineland Social Maturity Scale (Brolin, 1976; Robinson & Robinson,
1976). The former purports to measure self-sufficiency, sensory-
motor development, socialization, domestic abilities, vocational
promise, and responsibility (Nihira, Foster, Shellhaas, & Leland,
1969). The VSMS attempts to discover traits of social responsibility,
personal independence, and initiative. In addition, it is used to
determine the level of learning readiness an individual possesses
Surprisingly, neither of the above were mentioned in Brolin and
Kokaska's (1979) comprehensive text on career education for special
needs students. Instead, a relative newcomer to the field of
adaptive behavior measurement was suggested. It is entitled the
Social and Prevocational Information Battery (SPIB) and is the work
of Halpern, Raffeld, Irvin, and Link (1975). The purpose of its con-
struction was to determine knowledge of skills and competencies
deemed essential for the ultimate community adjustment of mildly
retarded persons. Nine areas are scored: purchasing habits, budget-
ing, banking, job-related behavior, job search skills, home management,
health care, hygiene and grooming, and functional signs. These are
directly related to five long range objectives of junior and senior
high school work-study programs: employability, economic independence,
family life, personal habits, and communication. Using the Kuder-
Richardson formula 20, a reliability rating of .93 was found for
senior high school students. In order to determine predictive
validity, economical correlation was performed between the SPIB
tests and five scores from an adjustment rating instrument
administered to vocational rehabilitation counselors one year
after the subjects left high school. A first order correlation
of .58 showed a moderate relationship between the SPIB scores and
the others (Halpern et al., 1975). Brolin and Kokaska (1979) concluded
that this instrument "is a substantial contribution to the occupa-
tional guidance area and worthy of utilization" (p. 216).
The self-concept is generally conceived as the total view a
person has of himself. Carl Rogers defined self-concept in a
manner which remains relevant today:
an organized configuration of perceptions of the self
which are admissible to awareness. It is composed of
such elements as the perceptions of one's characteristics
and abilities; the value qualities which are perceived
as associated with experiences and objects; and goals
and ideals which are perceived as having positive or
negative valence. (Rodgers, 1951, pp. 136-137)
Brolin and Kokaska (1979) elaborated on this definition by attribut-
ing four components to the process of self-conceptualization.
First, the self-concept is learned and can therefore change with
new experiences. Second, it is influenced by "significant others."
Third, it is based on one's perceptions of oneself and one's
environment. Thus, any limitations in one's system of receiving
information (e.g., visual deficit) affect one'sself-concept. Last,
one places a certain value on what he perceives while looking at
The self-concept scales available at this time were primarily
designed to measure one's beliefs about oneself. They attempt to
gauge the individual's understanding of his present status, the
behaviors and attitudes others have of him, and the values he
places on what he perceives.
Self-concept scales were located in large quantity in The
Eighth Mental Measurements Yearbook (Buros, 1976). The Self-Esteem
Questionnaire (Hoffmeister, 1971) appeared to be a reasonable gauge
of self-concept but lacked sufficient information on itself
(especially regarding validity) to be useful at this time (Buros,
1976). Self-Concept as a Learner Scale (Waetjen, 1967) could be
used with adults but lacked a description of a normative population
(Buros, 1976). Self-Perception Inventory by William T. Martin (1969)
was age and subject appropriate but inadequate in normative data,
reliability and validity studies (Buros, 1976).
One self-concept scale was found which was age appropriate,
subject appropriate, and had sufficient normative population data.
Also present were validity and reliability measures. This was the
Self-Perception Inventory by Soares and Soares (1975). The area
explored in this study was the subject's perceptions of himself.
The test-retest reliability correlation was reported at .79.
Regarding validity, the student self-concept form correlates .68
with Coopersmith's Self-Esteem Inventory and .44 with the Tennessee
This study focused on the measurement of adaptive behavior and
self-perception of mentally handicapped males residing in Kansas.
Subjects were divided into two groups, i.e., those who were
employed and those who were unemployed at the time the measurements
were made. Additional investigations were made concerning the
adequacy of jobs held by employed subjects and the employability of
those subjects unemployed at the time the study was conducted.
Finally, the plethora of data for the hypotheses being tested caused
this researcher to examine other variables as possible associative
factors in adult adjustment and self-perception scores of retarded
This chapter contains the statement of the null hypotheses, the
designs used in the research, the determination of subjects contained
in the sample, the instrumentation used in the research, and the
procedural method through which the research was conducted.
Statement of Null Hypotheses
1. There are no statistically significant differences (a = .05)
between the Social and Prevocational Information Battery scores of
the employed mentally handicapped males and the Social and Prevoca-
tional Information Battery scores of the unemployed mentally
handicapped males. (See page 68.)
2. There are no statistically significant differences (a = .05)
between the Self-Perception Inventory scores of the employed mentally
handicapped males and the Self-Perception Inventory scores of the
unemployed mentally handicapped males. (See page 68.)
3. There are no significant differences (p. = .05) between
the employed individuals' perceptions of their suitability for their
respective employment positions and the perceptions held by signifi-
cant others in the lives of the subjects who are in a position to
observe the subjects' work situations. (See page 70.)
4. There are no statistically significant differences (p. =
.05) between the perceptions of the unemployed individuals on their
employability and the perceptions of significant others in the lives
of the subjects on the subjects' employability. (See page 70.)
In order to determine whether the discrepancies in data
accumulated for the purpose of this study were greater than could
be attributed to chance, two statistical designs were chosen. An
analysis of variance (ANOVA) design was used to determine whether a
significant difference could be ascertained between the Social and
Prevocational Information Battery (SPIB) and Self-Perception Inventory
(SPI) scores of employed subjects and the SPIB and SPI scores of un-
employed subjects. The Fisher Exact Test was used in comparing the
subjects' perception of their job adequacy or employability with
the perceptions of the same phenomena by significant others in their
lives. A .05 level of statistical significance was used in both
The primary objective of this research design was to determine
the existence or lack of existence of a significant difference
between the SPIB and SPI scores of the employed mentally handicapped
males and the unemployed mentally handicapped males. A secondary
objective of this research was to determine whether the subject was
in agreement with his significant other regarding the adequacy of
his employment, if employed, or his employability, if unemployed.
Questions relating to adequacy of employment or employability were
directed toward the subjects themselves, social acquaintances of the
subjects, employers, or social workers who were familiar with the
Employed and unemployed subjects were administered the SPIB
and SPI instruments. They were also asked to determine the adequacy
of their jobs, if employed, or their employability, if unemployed.
Verifiers were used to determine agreement. Figure 1 shows the
breakdown of employed and unemployed subjects on the SPIB and SPI
instruments (Model A) and compares their assertions on adequacy of
employment and employability with that of verifiers (Model B).
Subjects SPIB SPI
Employed C1 20 20
Unemployed C2 20 20
C1 presently salaried in a competitive occupational
C2 presently unsalaried
Subjects Mentally Verifier
Employed D1 20 20
Unemployed D2 20 20
D1 adequacy of employment
Forty subjects were chosen representing two distinct groups of
mentally handicapped males between the ages of 18 and 54. Twenty
subjects were selected from a population of employed mentally
handicapped males and 20 subjects were selected from a population
of unemployed mentally handicapped males.
Subjects were located through three means of communication.
Contacts with professionals dealing with retarded adults were
established via personal visits, telephone calls, and letters (Appendix A).
Areas through which retarded men could be located included sheltered
workshops, the Kansas Association for Retarded Citizens, the public
school system, and group living homes. Sheltered workshops in Hays,
Overland Park, and Wichita supplied subjects who were presently on
their waiting lists or had left their programs for various reasons.
Officials with the Kansas Association for Retarded Citizens notified
chapters in Hays, Norton, Wichita, and Pratt of the research being
attempted with the result that subjects were identified and tested
from those areas. Public school special educators from Hays,
Stockton, and Lawrence brought in several former students for
testing. Finally, houseparents in group living homes in Norton
and Wichita allowed residents to participate in the research. The
search for subjects continued until 20 employed individuals and 20
unemployed individuals were tested. The only incentive used to
encourage participation was the guarantee of a free meal during or
after the tests.
Criteria used in determining subjects included the following:
1. Subjects had to be between 18 and 54 years of age.
2. Subjects were not presently institutionalized.
3. Subjects were considered by qualified professionals to
be capable of competitive employment at the time of the study.
4. Subjects had to express a willingness to participate in
5. Subjects had to have attended mental retardation classes
in the public school system or been classified as mentally retarded
by the Kansas Division of Health and Rehabilitative Services.
The mean age of the subjects was 25.875. The mean age of those
employed was 25.95 and the mean age of those unemployed was 25.70.
The total population from which the subjects were chosen resided in
the State of Kansas.
The impression given by the majority of the subjects was one of
emotional rather than physical dependence on others for support. They
seemed none too sure of themselves and very much other-directed. The
greatest differences in apparent personality and appearance were
those between rural and urban residents. While some rural dwellers
owned their own vehicles, most were dependent upon their parents
(biological, foster, or house) or siblings for transportation.
Urbanites, on the other hand, rarely owned a car, but seemed to have
no trouble reaching destination points due to access to public trans-
portation. Rural subjects usually resided with their parents while
urban subjects were more often in group living homes. Subjects from
rural areas appeared to be more sociable and made of point of letting
the casual observer know they were on familiar terms with all their
neighbors. In contrast, urban residents seemed less out-going and
more competitive, more street-wise. Those who lived in urban areas
were definitely more clothes conscious than their rural counterparts.
For both groups television was probably the most favored form of
entertainment. Few expressed an interest in participant sports.
For the group of employed individuals, verifiers consisted of
two employers, three Association for Retarded Citizens personnel
associated with the retarded individuals, two job placement personnel
from sheltered workshops, two former instructors in public school
special education programs, and two group living home houseparents.
This was the hierarchy followed for verification. Several of the
verifiers gave verification for more than one subject.
For the group of unemployed individuals, verifiers were included
under the term advocates. As shown in the Definition of Terms, these
consisted, in order of selection, of two voluntary advocates, two
social workers, two Supplementary Security Income Contact personnel,
three VISTA volunteers, one member of the clergy, and seven associates
who took an active interest in the subject. Several of the verifiers
gave verification for more than one subject.
While commenting on a subject's contention of adequacy of
employment or employability, a consensus of the verifiers expressed
a genuine affection for the mentally handicapped subjects with whom
they had contact. A special education teacher from Lawrence said his
former students who were being administered the instruments were
"good people, like you and I. Most want to work but just like the
rest of us some don't." At a large sheltered workshop in Wichita,
a job placement officer uttered the thought that most of the workers
in the sheltered workshop conformed to the rules without the necessity
of a behavior management program. He felt that the desire to work
was strong enough to cause the clients to compete for the opportunity
for competitive employment in the community. At the other end of the
expectation spectrum, a group living home houseparent in Norton spoke
disparagingly of the motivation of one of the unemployed residents.
She stated he had unsuccessfully tried several forms of employment
and that he was probably the most intelligent resident in the home but
he simply did not appear to be serious about working. Overall, the
verifiers held the subjects they knew in high regard.
The data were collected over a two-month period, beginning May 15,
1980 and ending July 11, 1980. The instruments were administered at
the following Kansas sites: Glade, Hays, Lawrence, Norton, Overland
Park, Pratt, and Wichita. At Hays, Norton, and Wichita tests were
administered on several occasions as new subjects were located. Over
2,500 miles were traveled during the administration of the research
instruments. As is shown in Figure 2, three test sites have populations
exceeding 50,000 (U.S. Department of Commerce, 1980). At the urban
sites (Wichita, Overland Park, and Lawrence) subjects were local
residents from the respective cities. At the rural sites subjects
r- 'o N
*r N >--
a. 1 cu
00 0 *
-- zO I-
o 0. 4
2 0 0
am 0 (0&
.c -S ^C -
were either local residents or were transported to the sites from
The subjects were initially given the Self-Perception Inventory
which took an average of 20 minutes to complete. In addition to the
utilization of a sample item preceding the Inventory, continual
clarification of each item's intent, as well as the monitoring of
responses were performed to assure validity.
The Social and Prevocational Information Battery was then
administered to the subjects. This knowledge-based test of adult
adjustment skills consists of nine subtests, averaging 20 minutes
each. The SPIB manual suggests that its administration be divided
into three one hour sessions. This was accomplished by administering
the tests over a single day, punctuated by breaks of free time. After
the SPI and the first three subtests of the SPIB were completed, a
break was called with the subjects being allowed to walk about freely,
smoke cigarettes, and/or drink beverages. After a period of 15 to 30
minutes, the subjects were again assembled for subtests four through
six. After subtest six, another break was called. At this time the
subjects were treated to a meal. Lunch or dinner was supplied,
depending on the time of day during which the instruments were
administered. After the second break, subtests seven through nine
For consistency of approach, each instrument was administered to
each subject by this researcher. The test administrator read the
item statement twice, then observed the subject's answer sheet to
determine that the correct space for that numbered statement was being
marked. Only one of the 40 subjects was found to be marking inappro-
priate items and those inappropriately marked were erased and
verbally readministered until responses were coordinated with the
The sites used for testing varied with the type of contact
through which the subjects were located. Included among testing
sites were Association for Retarded Citizens offices, public school
buildings, sheltered workshops, and group living homes. In all cases
of administration of the instruments, sufficient writing space,
chairs, quiet surroundings, and proper lighting were provided.
The Social and Prevocational Information Battery (SPIB) is a
series of nine tests designed to assess knowledge of skills and
competencies widely considered critical for the ultimate community
adjustment of mentally retarded individuals. The tests measure
knowledge of the following skills: purchasing habits, budgeting,
banking, job-related behavior, job search skills, home management,
health care, hygiene and grooming, and functional signs. These may
be condensed into five major high school work study objectives:
employability, economic independence, family life, personal habits,
and communication. A reliability rating of .93 was determined for
the instrument using the Kuder-Richardson formula 20. Comparison of
the mean scores of employed and unemployed subjects on this instru-
ment formed the basis of Hypothesis 1.
The Self-Perception Inventory (SPI) is a measure of how the
subject sees himself. The inventory, as used in this research,
measures solely one's perception of himself as a person. It is
age and subject appropriate with adequate data on the normative
population. Unlike many self-concept measures, SPI does supply
validity data. This shows SPI to correlate with Coopersmith's
Self-Esteem Inventory at the .68 level. The instrument is acknowledged
to be highly usable as it is presented in a straightforward manner,
comes equipped with short, concise directions, and has a clear format.
Comparison of the mean scores of employed and unemployed subjects on
this instrument formed the basis of Hypothesis 2.
Finally, two separate questions were asked, one to the employed
subjects and one to the unemployed subjects. The members of the first
group (employed) were asked whether they considered their position of
employment adequate. Their employers and social acquaintances were then
asked if they considered the subject's employment position to be adequate
for the subject's ability level. Comparison of the responses of the
subjects with that of their verifiers formed the basis of Hypothesis 3.
The members of the second group (unemployed) were asked if they believed
they could, in fact, acquire and maintain a job. Advocates, who had
been in contact with the unemployed subjects, were then asked if they
considered the subject employable in a regular job setting. A hierarchy
of verifiers under the term "advocate" included voluntary advocates,
social workers, Supplementary Security Income contact persons, VISTA
volunteers, clergy, and associates who took an active interest in the
subject. This was the order in which persons to be used as verifiers
were selected. Comparison of the responses of the subject with that
of their verifiers formed the basis of Hypothesis 4.
ANALYSIS OF DATA
The data presented in this chapter are the final results of
statistical treatments used to investigate for differences and
relationships between and within employed and unemployed mentally
retarded men concerning adult adjustment skills and self-perceptions.
Data were collected and treated with two statistical techniques,
i.e., one way analysis of variance and the Fisher Exact Test used
as an exact test of significance for a 2x2 table with small cell
frequencies. The one way analysis of variance was used to investi-
gate for differences between means obtained from employed and
unemployed mentally retarded males on measurement of adult adjust-
ment skills and self-perception.
According to Willemsen (1974), analysis of variance is a
method by which the total variance of a group of scores are
algebraically divided into portions. Under proper conditions these
portions can work as "an unbiased estimate of the variation due to
different identifiable sources" (p. 88). Among other sources,
specific subject characteristics such as present employment situa-
tion are relevant to the present research. Proper conditions
include the following assumptions: (a) each of the sampled population
is assumed to have a normal distribution and (b) all populations are
assumed to have the same variance. As participants in this study were
gathered representatively from a wide geographical and sociocultural
range from within the State of Kansas, normal distribution for utiliza-
tion of the analysis of variance design was achieved.
The second statistical treatment used was the Fisher Exact Test
(Borg & Gall, 1974). Due to the small frequencies occupying several
of the cross breaks, the Fisher Exact Test was used to reach exact
probability. The purpose of this technique was to examine the rela-
tionship in agreement between the subject and the verifier. Assumptions
for computation include complete independence of subjects.
In addition to the statistics used for verification of the
hypotheses, analysis of variance were used to accumulate inferences
regarding other variables found in the data. These variables included
discrete age groups (18-21, 22-27, and 30-54) and location (rural and
urban) which were observed with regard to employment status.
Statistical Analysis of Hypotheses Tested
Statistical analysis of Hypothesis 1 is presented in Table 1. A
.05 level of significance with 1,38 degrees of freedom places the
critical point at 4.098 for Hypothesis 1.
Degrees of Freedom, Sums of Squares, Mean Squares
and F-Ratios for Hypotheses 1 and 2
Sum of Mean
df Squares Square F
Between Groups 1 1276.9 1276.9 0.86
Within Groups 38 56287.430 1486.248
Total 39 57564.332 1476.008
Social and Prevocational Information Battery
Sum of Mean
df Squares Square F
Between Groups 1 193.600 193.600 0.63
Within Groups 38 11587.449 304.933
Total 39 11781.051 302.078
Significant at .05 level of
region is F 4.098.
1. Computation of F 0.86.
2. Computation of F 0.63.
confidence with 1,38 df, critical
Statement of Hypothesis 1. There are no statistically signifi-
cant differences (a = .05) between the Social and Prevocational
Information Battery scores of the employed mentally handicapped males
and the Social and Prevocational Information Battery scores of the
unemployed mentally handicapped males.
Finding. Since F was not in the critical region at the .05 level
of confidence, the hypothesis was not rejected. The finding was that
there was no significant difference in adult adjustment based on
Social and Prevocational Information Battery scores.
Statistical analysis of Hypothesis 2 is presented in Table 2.
A .05 level of significance with 1,38 degrees of freedom places the
critical point at 4.098 for Hypothesis 2.
Statement of Hypothesis 2. There are no statistically significant
differences (a = .05) between the Self-Perception Inventory scores of
the employed mentally handicapped males and the Self-Perception
Inventory scores of the unemployed mentally handicapped males.
Finding. Since F was not in the critical region at the .05 level
of confidence, the hypothesis was not rejected. The finding was that
there was no significant difference in self-perception based on Self-
Perception Inventory scores.
Statistical analysis of Hypothesis 3 is presented in Table 2.
The critical level for Hypothesis 3 is at the .05 level of probability
with one degree of freedom.
Adequacy of Employment Agreement and Employability
Agreement for Hypotheses 3 and 4
Yes No p. ratio
Verifier Agreement 15 1
Verifier Disagreement 1 3
Adequacy of Employment
Yes No p. ratio
Verifier Agreement 14 1
Verifier Disagreement 3 2
Computation of Hypothesis 3 p. = .0132.
Computation of Hypothesis 4 p. = .140.
Statement of Hypothesis 3. There is no relationship between
employed individuals ratings of the adequacy of their own employment
and the ratings of their verifiers (p. = .05).
Findings. Data from Hypothesis 3 gave statistical support for
agreement between subjects and verifiers regarding the subjects'
adequacy of employment. The probability of .013 was rejected. A
confirmation of this finding was the ratio of agreement between
subjects and verifiers. Of the 20 subjects, 16 received agreement
from their verifiers. This ratio of 16/20 signified a high agreement
ratio of .8.
Statistical analysis of Hypothesis 4 is presented in Table 2.
The critical level for Hypothesis 4 is at the .05 level of probability
with one degree of freedom.
Statement of Hypothesis 4. There is no relationship between
unemployed individuals' rating of their employability and the ratings
of their verifiers (p. = .05).
Findings. Data from Hypothesis 4 failed to statistically support
agreement between subjects and verifiers regarding the subjects'
employability as the probability of .140 exceeded the critical level
of .05. Therefore, Hypothesis 4 was not rejected. However, the
ratio of agreement between subjects and verifiers was almost as high
as that in Hypothesis 3. The ratio of 15/20 signified a high agree-
ment ratio of .75.
Added to the data used for testing and primary and secondary
hypotheses of this study, numerous other data appeared from
administration of the instruments. These were analyzed in order
to shed further light on adult-adjustment skills and self-concepts
of mentally retarded men. In order to determine whether age differ-
ences represented significant variables in SPIB and SPI scores, the
subjects were divided into three discrete age groups. Those between
and including the ages of 18 and 21 comprised one group, 22 to 27
the second group, and 30 to 54 the third group. The ages of 28 and
29 were not represented as no subjects were of that age. Another
domain of research interest consisted of subjects from rural locations
compared with those from urban locations. Seventeen of the subjects
(42.5 percent) were from rural areas and 23 of the subjects (57.5
percent) were from urban areas. Urban areas were arbitrarily desig-
nated as those with populations exceeding 50,000. Rural areas were
arbitrarily designated as those with populations of less than 50,000.
Finally, mean scores of each of the nine subtests of the Social and
Prevocational Information Battery were analyzed in an effort to deter-
mine whether significant mean differences occurred among age group,
employment status, or location variables.
Regarding the basic composition of the overall SPIB data, an
analysis of variance was run and no significant differences (F. = .05)
were found among mean scores for main effects, two-way interactions
or three-way interactions (see Appendix D). However, the two-way
interaction of Employment Status X Location came extremely lost at
F. = .058. Thus, at F.10 this difference would be significant. As
depicted by the table below, the greatest mean difference occurred
between rural employed and rural unemployed, the former outscoring
the latter by over 30 SPIB points. In contrast the urban employed and
unemployed achieved nearly identical mean scores. Another interesting
finding from this interaction is the large difference in mean score
between the urban (lower) and rural (higher) employed. In fact, the
rural employed standalmost 30 SPIB points above any of the other
Although analyses of variance were not performed for groups when
isolated for location, large differences were seen for both the rural
and the urban samples. The interaction of discrete age groups and
employment status variables shown in Table 4, indicated wide dis-
crepancies favoring employed subjects in the rural grouping. The two
younger age groups (18-27) exhibited over 30 SPIB point differences
favoring those employed. No comparison could be made with those in
the 30 and over age group as it contained no unemployed members. A
wide range of mean SPIB points was achieved in the urban group
showing no pattern whatsoever. The youngest group (18-21) of un-
employed and oldest group (30-54) of employed were virtually tied
for the highest mean SPIB scores.
Analysis of variance were performed for each of the SPIB subtests,
using discrete age grouping, location, and employment status as
variables. No significant differences were discovered for the first
subtest, purchasing habits. For budgeting, the interaction of discrete
Age Group X Location was found to have a significant F. of .04. As
shown in Table 5, the only real discrepancy found in this interaction
is between rural subjects over 30 and the composite other groups.
The third, fourth, and fifth subtests, those entitled banking,
job related behavior, and job search skills respectively showed no
Mean SPIB Scores: Employment Status X Location
Rural No. Urban No.
Unemployed 161.57 ( 7) 173.85 (13)
Employed 192.20 (10) 170.50 (10)
Mean SPIB Scores: Discrete Rural and Urban Subgroupings
Age Unemployed No. Employed No.
18-21 167.33 (3) 200.67 (3)
S 22-27 157.25 (4) 211.25 (4)
30-54 0.0 (0) 155.00 (3)
18-21 188.83 (6) 172.00 (4)
| 20-27 159.50 (4) 151.67 (3)
30-54 163.00 (3) 187.33 (3)
Rural No. Urban No.
18-21 21.00 ( 6) 20.80 (10)
22-27 21.38 ( 8) 18.29 ( 7)
30-54 14.67 ( 3) 19.17 ( 6)
SPIB Subtest: Home Management
Rural No. Urban No.
Unemployed 16.71 ( 7) 20.23 (13)
Employed 21.00 (10) 19.40 (10)
significant differences among their mean scores. The analysis of
variance of the sixth subtest, home management, resulted in a
significant F. of .20 for the interaction between Employment Status
and Location (see Table 6). The major discrepancy in this subtest
was between the rural unemployed and employed. The urban scores
were approximately the same.
In the analysis of variance run for the seventh subtest, health
care, a significant F. of .029 was found for the interaction between
Employment Status and Location (see Table 7). Similar to the situa-
tion found with the previous subtest of Home Management, the rural
unemployed scored significantly lower than the rural employed, while
both unemployed and employed urban subjects received nearly identical
SPIB Subtest: Health Care
Rural No. Urban No.
Unemployed 16.71 (7) 20.23 (13)
Employed 21.00 (10) 19.40 (.10)
Continuing the trend of the most recent two subtests, the
eighth subtest, that of Hygiene and Grooming, again revealed a
major discrepancy between the unemployed and employed rural subjects
with little or no mean score difference between urbanites. For this
subtest a significant F. of .006 was determined.
SPIB Subtest: Hygiene and Grooming
Rural No. Urban No.
Unemployed 13.29 ( 7) 16.54 (13)
Employed 18.40 (10) 16.10 (10)
The final subtest, Functional Signs, demonstrated no significant
differences among variables when an analysis of variance was per-
formed on it.
An analysis of variance was performed on mean scores from the
Self-Perception Inventory (see Appendix D). A significant F (.007)
was determined for the Discrete Age Groups variable for the main
effects. As is evident from Table 9, subjects in the 30 to 54 age
grouping scored significantly lower than younger subjects on this
measure of self-concept. When divided into discrete groups by loca-
tion, the reasons for this difference become clearer. No unemployed
rural subjects between the ages of 30 and 54 were tested. Therefore,
only three over-30 groups were available for examination. Of those,
Self-Perception Inventory: Discrete Age Groups
Age Mean SPI Score No.
18-21 27.19 (16)
22-27 21.00 (15)
30-54 4.00 ( 9)
Mean SPI Scores: Discrete Rural and Urban Subgroupings
Age Unemployed No. Employed No.
18-21 27.67 (3) 34.33 (3)
22-27 21.00 (4) 23.50 (4)
30-54 0.00 (0) -4.67 (3)
18-21 26.83 (6) 22.00 (4)
-e 22-27 14.00 (4) 27.00 (3)
30-54 17.67 (3) -1.00 (3)
the unemployed urban sample exhibited a mean SPI score of 17.67
which placed comfortably above the mean score of the unemployed
urban subjects in the 22-27 age group. However, employed individuals
in the over-30 age group achieved negative mean scores whether they
were from urban or rural areas (see Table 10).
Investigations for significant differences and relationships
between employed and unemployed mentally retarded males between the
ages of 18 and 54 were conducted in the areas of adult adjustment
skills and self-concepts. In addition, probability of agreement
was determined between mentally retarded adults and significant
others in their lives regarding their responses to queries of
adequacy of employment for those employed and employability for
those unemployed. In determining differences and relationships in
adult adjustment skills and self-concepts, an analysis of variance
was used at the .05 level of significance. In determining agreement
between subjects and significant others, a Fisher Exact Test was made
due to the small marginal frequencies occupying several of the cross
breaks. This was applied at the .05 level of probability. Compari-
sons were then made using the variables of discrete age groups and
location, which, in conjunction with employment status, became the
subject of a series of analyses of variance. Significant F. was at
the .05 level. Analyses of variance were also performed on each of
the subtests of the Social and Prevocational Information Battery.
Application of the analysis of variance design resulted in
no significant differences between employed and unemployed
mentally retarded males in the SPIB and SPI scores. Application
of the Fisher Exact Test for small expected cell frequencies for
determination of agreement probability between subjects and
significant others in their lives resulted in significant
differences between unemployed individuals and their significant
others, but not between employed subjects and their significant
others. Using ratio analysis, high agreement was found between
subjects and verifiers in both groups. Application of the analysis
of variance design among the independent variables of discrete age
groups, location, and employment status resulted in significant
differences between subjects from the oldest age group and those
from other groups.
DESCRIPTION OF RANDOM SAMPLE
In order to keep in perspective the human element in this study,
a brief descriptive analysis was made of eight of the tested
subjects. The first of the eight was randomly chosen from 40
pieces of paper placed in a bowl, each piece marked with a discrete
number ranging from I to 40. After that number was chosen, it was
matched with the number assigned to the respective subject. The
other subjects were chosen by taking every fifth subject after the
original one until seven had been obtained. Subject variables
appeared fairly representative. Although five of those described
were in their teens or early 20s, half of the group was employed
and an equal ratio unemployed. Also, five of the eight were from
urban areas which roughly corresponded to the composition of the
total subject group. Pseudonyms were given the subjects to protect
their right to confidentiality.
Ben Wilson, who did manual work for the city, agreed to be
tested in Norton after much prodding by his fo-mer GED (General
Educational Development high school equivalency diploma) tutor who
was also a local Association for Retarded Citizens officer. He was
a large man, resemblirg the stereotype one might have of a lumberjack.
His manner was abrupt and he left little doubt that he was uncomfortable
in the classroom situation. However, Ben cooperated fully in the
testing and relaxed somewhat when the "ordeal" was completed.
In conversation he intimated that he was close to passing his GED
test after several near misses. However, his GED tutor countered
in private that Ben had decisively failed each of the subtests and
only irregularly attended the tutoring sessions. In spite of the
fact that Ben is the only married subject being described, his
adult adjustment scores were relatively low on the SPIB. He demon-
strated little understanding of either the difference between
luxuries and necessities for the consumer or the skills involved
in check writing. His married status was reflected in his home
management skills where kitchen-related items were the most deficient.
In the Health Care section one of the questions may have been in-
appropriate in Ben's case. He did not think that three or four
beers would affect one's driving ability. Ben, who is approximately
6'3" in height and weighs in the neighborhood of 240 pounds, may
indeed be little affected by the 3.2% alcohol beer brewed by law in
Kansas. Ben's self-concept appeared to be quite low. He admitted
to poor performance in school as well as aversion to change and self-
doubt. At the time of the testing, he was 31 years of age.
Another subject, tested in Norton but on a different occasion
than Ben, was Bart Stouffer. Bart was presently unemployed, although
he had held various jobs for brief periods of time. He was 27 years
of age and a resident of a group living home. Upon questioning
concerning his employability, both he and his housemother did not
believe he could hold a job. His housemother did not feel that
intelligence was a barrier to Bart's vocational success. Instead,
she blamed lack of work motivation. At the testing session Bart
was dressed casually but had a well-groomed appearance. He behaved
in a friendly, outgoing manner which belied evident skills in social
manipulation. At dinner at the local A & W root beer stand, despite
protests from this researcher and another subject, Bart walked over
to a dining trucker and borrowed a cigarette. Apparently, he often
assumes this medicant role. Although he was garbed appropriately for
the tests, his SPIB score for the Hygiene and Grooming subsection
was easily his lowest. A possible key to his present status of
unemployment was his agreement in the Job Related Behavior subsection
that one should tell customers or visitors about problems with one's
boss. Bart showed a slightly negative self-concept on the SPI.
Although he considered himself self-pitying, unhappy, and fearful,
he felt he possessed the ability to be very self-reliant. This was
not confirmed by the observations at the A & W.
Larry Adams, at 18, was the youngest subject. He was employed
at a college cafeteria and living at home with his family. His
appearance was somewhat disheveled and during the course of the
session he revealed the reason. He and some friends had partied at
one of the friend's houses the night before. The party was a lively
one with much alcoholic consumption (no other drug being admitted to).
Larry had stayed through the night and had come directly to the
Saturday morning testing complete with a hangover. In spite of this,
he was amiable and joked casually. The impression given this
observer was that the physical suffering Larry was no enduring was
more than compensated for by his defacto initiation into the world
of the normal decadent. In fact, he indulged himself in his hang-
over as if it were a Red Badge of Courage. On his SPIB test he
scored uniformly with subtest extremes only five points apart.
Although Larry's mother is a full-blooded American Indian, he
appeared ignorant of rural health care as was evidenced by the fact
that he missed questions concerning protection from snakes and
poisonous berries. Extreme self-reliance was shown in his SPI
The eldest subject described was Clark Jones. He was a 41 year
old Wichitan who was presently unemployed and living in a group
living home. His physical appearance was that of a man at least a
decade older and he was confined to a wheelchair. Clark was a reticent
test-taker. His demeanor was surly. He did not like to risk an
evaluation. He was bitter, it seemed, at life in general. On the
SPIB his responses were unique in that he marked with huge X's whose
centers only would fit in the allotted boxes. His Self-Perception
Inventory results were surprisingly positive in light of Clark's
Sam Conrad was 20 years of age, living in Pratt and employed by
that city installing water lines. Arriving on a Friday evening for
testing, he was dressed in dirty overalls and admitted that he came
only because of the promised free meal. During the testing, which
occurred in a dilapidated school building in Pratt, Sam constantly
made inside jokes with another subject. He appeared to bear ill
feelings for being reminded of his intellectual status. He scored
among the highest of all the subjects on both the SPIB and the SPI.
Sam possessed the technical check writing skills but was unsure of
some of the implications of keeping a checking account. On the
Self-Perception Inventory he gave himself all top scores except for
three items. Even on those he ranked himself positively (+1).
Tested in Lawrence was Phil Burns who worked in the same
college cafeteria as did Larry Adams. He was 20 years of age and
lived with his parents. He had still not settled on a designated
name as he alternately signed his test sheets as George (his middle
name) and Phil. On the Saturday he was tested, Phil came in work
overalls as he had been helping his father paint the house. Through-
out the session he was patient, cooperative, and well-mannered. On
the budgeting subtest of the SPIB, Phil missed several items related
to financial considerations of home rental or ownership. This was
probably due to the fact that he had not yet had to set up his own
home situation. In his Job Related Behavior subtest, Phil showed a
strong preference for not rocking the boat when the items concerned
relations with his boss or fellow workers. His SPI results showed a
quite positive self-concept.
The only black in the random sample was Monte Hooks, who was 21
and unemployed when he was tested in Wichita. He was referred by
the placement officer at Kansas Elks Training Center. He lived with
his mother and siblings in a small house near Wichita State University.
Opportunities for part-time employment abound due to proximity to
the University and Monte has held several university jobs in the
past. He is socially active and has an interest in spectator sports.
His personality is pleasant and although he likes loud soul music
and jokes around with his compatriots, his manner is not abrasive.
On the day he was tested, Monte was neatly groomed and carried an
Afro "pic" in his back pocket. He scored high on the SPIB. On
the subtest of Budgeting, Monte missed an item possibly because
of a cultural difference. He agreed that half of what one spends
each month should be for clothes. As nice clothes high a high
priority in his culture and because he did not spend his money
on rental (while living at home), Monte may justifiably spend half
his income on clothes. His self-concept was positive and he assessed
himself as both happy and self-satisfied.
Fred Detweiler was 20 years old, unemployed, and lived in
suburban Wichita with his parents. His family was well-to-do and
responsible for at least one of his job placements. Fred was slender
and lightly built. He was slightly effeminate and very other-directed.
At the time of the testing, he had been fired from at least two
jobs. The first position, as part of a clean up crew in a school
cafeteria, was lost because the duties were too complex for him.
The second job, at his parent's country club as a busboy, was
terminated because he had been too gregarious with patrons and
the other staff and as a result did not accomplish his tasks. Fred's
scores on the SPIB reflected an almost total lack of awareness of
money management. His lowest subtest was that of Job Related
Behavior. His self-concept was in the high range.
SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The primary purpose of the present study was to investigate
for differences and relationships between employed mentally
retarded males and unemployed mentally retarded males in adult
adjustment skills and self-perception. The secondary purpose of
the present study was to investigate the level of agreement between
employed mentally retarded males and significant others in their
lives regarding the adequacy of their employment and the level of
agreement between unemployed mentally retarded males and significant
others in their lives regarding their employability. Additional
information gathered from the variables of discrete age groupings
and location, as well as employment status, was used to probe into
the variables' possible association with adult adjustment skills and
Adult adjustment skills and self-concepts were investigated in
employed and unemployed adult mentally retarded males. Adult
adjustment skills were determined through administration of the
Social and Prevocational Information Battery and self-concepts were
determined through the Self-Perception Inventory. In addition,
the employed mentally retarded adults were asked if they felt their
present employment sufficiently tapped their occupational skills.
The unemployed mentally retarded adults were asked if they thought
they were capable of acquiring and maintaining competitive employment.
Significant others were asked the same job adequacy and employability
questions as were the subjects and probability of agreement was
gauged for these questions.
A review of related literature provided information concerning
the following topics: the work ethic in Western society, employment
of mentally handicapped adults, adjust adjustment, adult adjustment
of mentally handicapped individuals, self-perceptions held by mentally
handicapped persons and the perceptions of handicapped persons held
by significant others, and adaptive behavior and self-concept rating
scales. Each topic was summarized at its conclusion.
The population for the study was selected from mentally retarded
men between the ages of 18 and 54 who resided in the State of Kansas.
They were either presently engaged in competitive employment or con-
sidered by significant others to be capable of competitive employ-
ment. Twenty of the subjects were presently competitively employed
and 20 of the subjects were presently unemployed.
During a 57-day period between mid-May and mid-July of 1980,
subjects were administered the Social and Prevocational Information
Battery (Halpern et al., 1975) and the Self-Perception Inventory
(Soares & Soares, 1974). Data from the above listed instruments
were collected and treated with two statistical techniques, i.e.,
one way analysis of variance and a Fisher Exact Test used for small
marginal frequencies. Two primary hypotheses were designed to
determine if there were significant differences and relationships
between adult adjustment scores and self-concept scores of employed
and unemployed mentally retarded men between the ages of 18 and 54.
Two secondary hypotheses were designed to determine the probability
of agreement between subjects and significant others when queried
as to the subjects' adequacy of employment, if employed, or ability
to secure and maintain a competitive job, if unemployed.
Additional data from SPIB and SPI mean scores were accumulated
and analyzed based on the main effects and interactions of three
variables. These variables were membership in discrete age groups,
residence in rural or urban locations, and employment status.
As no significant differences were determined between the mean
SPIB scores of the employed and unemployed subjects, Hypothesis 1 was
not rejected. Therefore it was concluded that competitively employed
mentally retarded males between the ages of 18 and 54 did not differ
from unemployed mentally retarded males, within the same age range
in adult adjustment skills as reflected by the Social and Prevocational
As no significant differences were determined between the mean
SPI scores of the employed and unemployed subjects, Hypothesis 2
was not rejected. Therefore it was concluded that competitively
employed mentally retarded males between the ages of 18 and 54 did
not differ from unemployed mentally retarded males, within the same
age range, in self-concept as reflected by the Self-Perception Inventory.
With the secondary hypotheses 3 and 4 mixed results were
attained. Hypothesis 3 was rejected, signifying that the occurrence
of agreement of responses between employed subjects and verifiers was
large enough to not have occurred by chance. Hypothesis 4 was not
rejected, signifying that the discordance of agreement of responses
between unemployed subjects and verifiers was too great to have
occurred by chance.
Combining the variables of discrete age groups and location
with employment status, several interesting observations were
obtained with the SPIB subtests and the SPI. On the SPIB subtests
of home management, health care, and hygiene and grooming, urban
employed and unemployed subjects attained nearly identical scores,
while on the same subtests, large discrepancies were found between
rural employed (higher) and unemployed. On the SPI analysis negative
self-concepts of employed males between the ages of 30 and 54 was
Conclusions of the present study were made based on statistical
analysis of differences and relationships between employed and unem-
ployed mentally retarded males between the ages of 18 and 54. The
following conclusions were made as to the development of differences
and relationships concerning dependent variables in the present study.
Hypothesis 1 stated that there is no significant difference between
employed mentally retarded adults and unemployed mentally retarded
adults in the area of adult adjustment as determined by a comparison
of their mean scores on the Social and Prevocational Information
Battery. Any differences between the two groups on the mean scores
for the SPIB were attributed to chance and therefore Hypothesis 1
was not rejected.
Hypothesis 2 stated that there is no significant difference
between employed mentally retarded adults and unemployed mentally
retarded adults in the area of self-concept as determined by a compari-
son of their mean scores on the Self-Perception Inventory. Any differ-
ences between the two groups on the mean scores for the SPI were
attributed to chance and therefore Hypothesis 2 was not rejected.
Hypothesis 3 stated that there is no relationship between the
responses of employed mentally retarded adults and significant others
in their lives regarding their adequacy of employment. Based upon
statistical analysis, it was concluded that the occurrence of agreement
of responses was large enough to not have occurred by chance and
therefore Hypothesis 3 was rejected.
Hypothesis 4 stated that there is no relationship between the
responses of unemployed mentally retarded adults and significant others
in their lives regarding their employability. Based upon statistical
analysis, it was concluded that discordance in agreement was too great
to have occurred by chance and therefore Hypothesis 4 was not rejected.
General conclusions were made based on statistical analyses of
data collected on the 40 subjects in this study. It was concluded
that competitively employed mentally retarded males between the ages
of 18 and 54 did not differ from unemployed mentally retarded males,
within the same age range, in adult adjustment skills as reflected
by the Social and Prevocational Information Battery. Although the
mean score of the employed group was greater than the mean score of
the unemployed group, the difference between the means was not large
enough to be significant beyond chance.
These findings give the possible implication that the state of
employment with its attendant learning experiences and responsi-
bilities did not result in improved adult adjustment skills for those
mentally retarded individuals who were employed. An alternate implica-
tion was that retarded men with greater adult adjustment skills opt
for the unemployment rather than the employment status. The assumption
for this implication was that unemployment was the result of choice
and not other variables.
The second general conclusion reached was that competitively
employed mentally retarded males between the ages of 18 and 54 did
not differ from unemployed mentally retarded males, within the same
age range, in self-concept as reflected by the Self-Perception
Inventory. For this instrument, the mean score of the unemployed group
was actually higher than that of the employed group. However, the
difference between the means was not large enough to be significant
beyond chance. These findings give the possible implication that the
status of employment was insufficient to cause a significant increase
in the employed individual's self-concept. An indirect implication
may be that competitive employment is no longer considered the sine
qua non in a male individual's repertoire.
The third general conclusion reached was that the employed
group and their verifiers concurred in their perception of the
adequacy of the former's employment to the extent that significant
doubt could be ruled out. The fact that two of the three employed
individuals who expressed the feeling that their jobs were inadequate
for their skills were in disagreement with their significant others
was offset by the high rate of agreement between those who felt
their jobs adequate and their verifiers.
The fourth general conclusion reached was that there was
significant room for doubting agreement between unemployed indivi-
duals and their verifiers regarding their employability. As in the
third hypothesis, the small number of negative responses were out-
numbered by verifier disagreements. However, the three disagreements
among the positive responses, compared to only one disagreement among
the positive responses in Hypothesis 3, had a critical effect on the
outcome. Yet, a conflicting result showing agreement between subjects
and verifiers on a ratio test, supported the contention that substan-
tial agreement did take place.
The gathering and analysis of data based on the inherent presence
of the variables of discrete age groups, location, and employment
status yielded several interesting implications using analysis of
variance procedures. For the overall test scores, although no signi-
ficant differences could be discerned for the SPIB at the .05 level,
the interaction between Employment Status and Location was extremely
close at F. = .058. Regardless of the caution this engendered, it
appeared that mentally retarded men who were employed and lived in
rural areas, may have possessed more adult adjustment skills as
measured by the Social and Prevocational Information Battery than
those who were unemployed.
In the analyses of variance performed for each of the SPIB sub-
tests, several conclusions were reached. For the measured skill of
budgeting, rural subjects in the 30-54 age group showed significantly
less aptitude than members of any of the other five Discrete Age--
Location groups. However, as the size of this group (3) was only
half as large as the next smallest group, the question could be
raised concerning this group's right to represent mentally retarded
rural men between the ages of 30 and 54. The subtests of home
management, health care, and hygiene and grooming followed remark-
ably similar patterns in demonstrating significant mean differences
when subjected to analyses of variance. For each of the above sub-
tests urban subjects achieved nearly identical scores when those who
were employed were compared to those who were unemployed. In the same
subtests, the rural employed significantly outdistanced the rural
unemployed in each case. Regarding home management, the speculation
may be made that a mentally retarded man who holds a job, would be
more likely to live independently, either in his parent's household
or by himself than one who is unemployed. Health care may be
indirectly job related as nonretarded coworkers may be inadvertently
used as health care models. Proper hygiene and grooming knowledge
may be directly related to the work world as acceptable appearance
may be a prerequisite to successful job acquisition and maintenance.
Although these tentative conclusions may explain the difference in
these scores between employed and unemployed rural subjects, it does
not explain the discrepancy between employed rural and employed urban