Posted on 1 July 2016
Blog by Issa Coultas
One of our classic products is the Group Embedded Figures Test (GEFT). Since 1971, the GEFT has only been available as a 32-page booklet – but now the GEFT is available online from Mind Garden. Because it was only available as a booklet for so long, I never had the chance or the patience to try it out. In fact, I didn’t really bother to know much about it. So when Mind Garden was abustle with developing the new online GEFT, I decided to do some research.
The GEFT measures to what degree an individual is field dependent (FD) or field independent (FI). FD/FI are cognitive styles that describe individual differences in whether you use cues from your visual field (field dependence or FD) or cues from your own body (field independence or FI) as you perceive and navigate your environment (field). For instance, are you the kind of person who always remembers names and faces and prefers social situations? Or are you the kind of person who is good at problem solving and appreciates independent thinking? Maybe you’re a little of both? Your analytic ability and social behavior are only two of the factors associated with FD/FI. Others associated factors include body concept, defense mechanisms, and occupational choices.
The research around FD/FI has uncovered many differences between FD individuals and FI individuals. For example, FD people are more socially-oriented whereas FI people exhibit greater physical and emotional distance from others. However analytically, FI individuals are better at unconventional problem solving whereas FD people tend to rely on others for guidance.
Being FD or FI is not inherently “good” or “bad,” but one may be more useful than the other depending on the situation. Occupations are a good example of this. FI people often do better with careers such as mathematics, engineering, carpentry, and farming. On the other hand, FD people accel with careers such as social work, elementary education, advertising, and sales.
After learning about the differences in FD and FI individuals, I was very curious about my cognitive style. Some of you might have a good idea if you are FD or FI, but I did not. As a result of working at Mind Garden, I have taken several social behavior and social skills assessments and my scores reflected my sensitivity to others and ability to moderate conflicts. However, I really don’t like working in groups and I like to think my problem solving is unconventional (I once used my earring to fix a printer paper jam). I couldn’t see myself as extremely FD or extremely FI. I predicted that I would fall somewhere in the middle.
The GEFT places you on a continuum with 19 possible degrees between being completely FD or completely FI. The closer you are to the FD side, the more FD you are; the closer you are to the FI side, the more FI you are. I went in thinking I was going to be somewhere around here:
To my great surprise, my result came back as this:
According to the GEFT, I am extremely FI! I was very confused because I knew I had many FD characteristics, yet I was able to easily identify the shapes within each GEFT figure. I took my confusion to the GEFT Manual to see if researchers had found people like me – they had. My cognitive style is considered “mobile,” meaning I have access to characteristics of both FD and FI. While taking the GEFT, I used my FI skills to identify the shapes. On other assessments, I was categorized as socially-oriented because my FD-like skills were more useful.
While I seem to have the best of both worlds, there are drawbacks to being "mobile." Although I am good at identifying shapes despite my surroundings, I am not as strong in FI areas as other “fixed” FI individuals (who are of the same FI degree according to the GEFT). Likewise, I do not have all the social skills that socially-oriented people usually have, because of my FI tendencies. I have to be aware of these situations when comparing myself to others who have completed the GEFT.
It was extraordinary to me how much I learned from my experience with the GEFT. With the help of the guides and information in my GEFT Report, I now recognize when I am using FI skills and when I am utilizing my social skills. There are weaknesses that come with each style and now I can identify them and try to overcome them.
I also recognize FI/FD tendencies in those around me. It really helps to acknowledge others’ styles! In team or work settings, for instance, when pairs of individuals are matched by cognitive style (FI with FI, FD with FD), they tend to rate their relationship positively and get more out of the relationship. If you match a FI person with a FD person, they tend to rate each other negatively.
The GEFT even helps you understand how others are perceiving situations. FD persons always take the context into account (e.g., they will perceive that a person is acting oddly because they are feeling anxiety). FI persons, on the other hand, do not tend to consider context (e.g., they will perceive that a person is stable regardless of their behavior).
And did you know that if you are FD and driving, you are more likely to have an accident due to following the preceding car too closely or not reading road signs? If you are FI and driving, you are more likely to have an accident due to swerving in and out of traffic because you are constantly scanning the entire visual field. Knowing your FDI results can help you acknowledge and avoid these tendencies.
Everything I have learned through my experience with the GEFT has been useful and eye-opening. I highly encourage others to use it and find out where they stand on the FD/FI continuum – it may be surprising!
If you have used the booklet version of the GEFT, you may feel hesitant to try our online version. We made it our mission to be equivalent to the booklet version as closely as possible in its translation to an online format. The GEFT online version uses the same figures and relationships between figures, retains similar instructions, has similar administration, uses the same timing for each section, and has the same scoring. In addition, the online version parallels the use of a pencil through the required use of an external mouse for tracing the figures on the computer screen. Preliminary analysis from GEFT Manual 2nd edition author Jack Demick shows a strong correlation between the paper-and-pencil GEFT and the GEFT Online that is equivalent to the test-retest reliability for the paper-and-pencil GEFT.
The GEFT is published by Mind Garden and is available via our Transform system. In this online format, you can easily administer, score, and compile data. You can also purchase Individual Reports or a Report About Me to review your scores, receive personal interpretation, and access strategies for changing, developing, and using your FD/FI style.