Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Howard R. Pollio

Committee Members

James M. Anker, Louis Dotson, Ohmer Milton


First, the history of the concept of associative structure was traced, and various methods of its assessment were reviewed. Included, also, was a survey of word association literature, with emphasis on the most recent studies. Three separate studies followed which were diverse techniques for the assessment of sex differences in associative structure, plus suggestions of some possible reasons--both proximate and remote--for these differences.

The first procedure consisted of an investigation of the Jenkins and Palermo Word Association Norms with respect to sexually distinct responses. This revealed many significantly differing responses, and suggested that the differences were the result of a differential emphasis in associations rather than an absolute dissimilarity in the composition of their respective associative structures.

The second experiment was characterized by the administration of a multiple choice questionnaire derived from the findings just mentioned. Three age groups of Ss were employed: elementary school (third grade), high school (freshmen), and college students. The differences anticipated by the results of the first study were generally confirmed with the added finding that such divergencies increased as a function of age.

A third experiment was undertaken employing a procedure similar to the one used by the television game of Password. This is a word association game in which one member of a pair team is required to give associations to a clue word until his partner is able to identify the clue word. Ss were drawn from the same age levels as those recruited in the second experiment. Findings were: (1) same sexed pairs are more facile at achieving a solution in such a situation than are different sexed pairs, and (2) females are superior to males in arriving at correct responses in this context. The predicted age effects (to parallel the intensification of effect found with increasing age in Experiment II), oddly, did not occur, and potential reasons for this are discussed. A general overview is provided, along with suggestions for the direction(s) future research might take.

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