Date of Award

Spring 1999

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Urban Education

Committee Director

Christopher W. Lovell

Committee Member

Garrett McAuliffe

Committee Member

J. Worth Pickering

Committee Member

Petra Snowden

Committee Member

Donna B. Evans


The amount of variation in leadership style predicted by cognitive complexity and empathy was investigated. Differences in cognitive complexity and empathic ability according to students' educational levels and leadership styles was also tested. Leadership style was determined by Fiedler's (1967) Least Preferred Coworker (LPC) measure; cognitive complexity was defined by the Cognitive Complexity Index (CCI), a subscale of the Learning Environment Preferences (LEP; Moore, 1987) instrument which measures Perry's (1998) scheme of intellectual and ethical development; and empathy was measured by Hogan's Scale of Empathy (1969) as scored on the Hogan/Em subscale of the California Psychological Inventory (CPI; Gough, 1987). Participants comprised a sample of 160 urban college undergraduate and graduate students. Multiple regression was used to test the CCI and Hogan/Em. as predictors of the LPC criterion variable. Multivariate and univariate analyses of variance were used to test for education level and leadership style main effects on the Hogan/Em and CCI. The results indicated that cognitive complexity alone, and cognitive complexity and empathy combined, were statistically significant predictors of leadership style. Graduate students scored higher than undergraduate students on the cognitive complexity measure, and an inverse relationship was found between leadership style and cognitive complexity. Discussion focused on theoretical explanations of the inverse relationship found between leadership style and cognitive complexity. Implications of the results were discussed as they relate to the psychometric properties of the measures, theoretical constructs, higher education policy and practice, and future research.


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