Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Constructing an assessment for the imbalance theory of foolishness
by Woodard, Melvin James, III, Ed.D., Indiana Wesleyan University, 2013, 279; 3588951
Abstract (Summary)

This research study sought to construct a valid and reliable assessment for the imbalance theory of foolishness (Sternberg, 2002, p. 111). The theory was first introduced in a chapter entitled "Smart People Are Not Stupid, But They Sure Can Be Foolish" (Sternberg, 2002, pp. 232-242). The theory builds upon the balance theory of wisdom (Sternberg, 1998) by viewing foolishness as the trait opposite of wisdom. There was no empirical evidence in support of the theory. Six fallacies of thinking are associated with the imbalance theory of foolishness: unrealistic optimism, egocentrism, omniscience, omnipotence, invulnerability, and ethical disengagement (Sternberg, 2008b). Fallacies of thinking are cognitive biases that "resemble those we might associate with adolescent thinking because they are the kind of thinking often seen in adolescents" (Sternberg, 2005a, p. 338). Sternberg (2002) believed that foolishness "results when people let down their guard as a result of feelings of omniscience, omnipotence, and invulnerability." He later claimed that people in positions of great power often acquire dispositions that dispose them to foolishness (Sternberg, 2004). Jordan (2005a) argued in her dissertation that, in organizational environments where power and status are highly valued, the "emphasis on gaining and retaining power and status is expected to prime those in such environments to develop fallacious ways of thinking about oneself and one's abilities" (p. 20). Power was assumed to predispose the individual to foolishness in this research. Scale development was initiated from an item pool of 150 questions (reduced to 56 items), generated from articles written by Sternberg and Jordan, with the purpose of operationalizing the construct and creating a base for further study of (wisdom and) foolishness. The 56 items were further reduced to a 38-item two-factor scale through principal axis factoring with oblique rotation, preserving only items that loaded 0.50 or higher on a factor - without cross-loading. Reliability analysis, assessed as internal consistency, revealed Cronbach's alpha value of 0.962. A model fit analysis using SPSS Amos 21 was performed. All factor analytical results are reported. Discussion includes research hypothesis, relationship to theory, conclusions, implications, suggestions for future research, and summary of the scale development process.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ludden, LaVern L.
Commitee: Starcher, Keith, Voss, Todd S.
School: Indiana Wesleyan University
Department: Organizational Leadership
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 74/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Management, Personality psychology
Keywords: Imbalance theory of foolishness, Leadership, Positional power, Wisdom
Publication Number: 3588951
ISBN: 978-1-303-27399-5
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