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  1. Bernard S. Gorman1,2

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0799

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Gorman, B. S. 2010. Rigidity. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Nassau Community College, SUNY

  2. 2

    Hofstra University

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Especially within the fields of developmental psychology, clinical psychology, and learning theory, psychology has consistently sought mechanisms that explain behavior change. But what about behavior that resists change, even when the situation calls for new adaptations? Perhaps the construct of rigidity might prove to be useful. In 1959, Sheila Chown wrote a classic review article, “Rigidity—A Flexible Concept.” At that time, she struggled with a working definition of the term. In more recent times, a very fruitful definition was offered by Schultz and Searleman (2002), who stated: “Rigidity can be defined as the tendency to develop and perseverate in the use of mental or behavioral sets” (p. 170).


  • authoritarianism;
  • dogmatism;
  • executive function;
  • mental set;
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder;
  • rigidity