KAI & Estrangement

(Anomie and Alienation: the misleading effects of linear fit)
– by S Hammond

Anomie and Alienation are terms that are often used synonymously in the social-psychological literature. This is probably because their outcome behaviour patterns are similar: listlessness, estrangement, unhappiness and failure to achieve. However, Anomie and Alienation are quite distinct at the macro or causal level.

Anomie grows out of a social context in which there is:

  • A breakdown in norms
  • An Absence of guiding principles
  • A lack of constraint

Alienation grows out of a social context in which there is:

  • A plethora of constraints
  • A strong normative structure
  • A clearly understood but arbitrary set of guiding principles

My measure of Estrangement, as yet unpublished, is designed to assess the resulting psychological malaise which is rather arbitrarily termed Anomia or Alienation in the social-psychological research literature. The measure was designed for use with young people and has been found to predict substance abuse, compliance with safe sex practices, depression, violent crime and general physical malaise.

In correlating Estrangement with the KAI, no significant relationship was observed (r=0.03, N=425). However, because of the two distinct origins of estrangement a non-linear relationship was explored. This would accord with A-I Theory in that it suggests that high adaptors will be more prone to Anomic tensions – because they are finding a shortage of cognitive structure that is also consistent and manageable. Conversely, high innovators are likely, in the theory, to be prone to alienation – because they find highly detailed and demanding structure oppressive, especially if it appears arbitrary (to their needs, their problem solving) and hard to control. Splitting the sample into Adaptors and Innovators by taking individuals above and below the median produced correlations of –0.37 and 0.43 respectively. An eta coefficient of 0.68 was obtained when the KAI score was reduced to a 6-point ordinal measure.

I found other non-linear relationships with other personality traits, such as:

Adaptors Innovators
Agreeableness r = +0.42 N = 42 r = -0.55 N = 42
Lie Scale (Eysenck) r = -0.30 N =157 r = +0.27 N =154
Guilt Prone (Cattell) r = +0.46 N = 63 r = -0.33 N = 58

It may be useful in future studies relating Adaption-Innovation to other characteristics to try to tease out the shape of the relationship in addition to its linear fit.

S Hammond, 1991

Editor’s Note:

This work can now be related to A-I concepts that have since been developed. The most pertinent of these is that of the Paradox of Structure.

Alienation suggests that too little structure is available for normal enabling to be effective. Anomie suggests that the structure is so limiting that too little enabling is possible. For whatever reason these problem-solving faults may occur, within cognitive function, the links with adaption-innovation, as normally deployed, are so clear that this probable link between normal function and these disorders needs further study.

See also: Publication List, Theses:
Hammond, S. The Meaning and Measurement of Adolescent Estrangement, University of Surrey 1987