A cross-validation of the Sn scale on the psychological
screening inventory with female hitchhikers

Robert W. Johnson

University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh


James H. Johnson*

Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine,
University of Utah

Tested 17 nonhitchhiking, 14 occasional hitchhiking, and 18 frequent hitchhiking females of high school and college age with the Psychological Screening Inventory in an attempt to study the validity of the Social Nonconformity (Sn) scale. The frequent hitchhikers scored significantly higher than both of the other groups on Sn. These results suggest that Sn has validity for detecting relatively minor variations in socially nonconforming behavior.

The Psychological Screening Inventory (PSI) is a brief, objective personality test developed by Lanyon (1970). It was designed as a screening device for specific problems such as “severity of psychiatric difficulty” and “social pathology,” and for use by the nonpsychological personnel who commonly are charged with the routine decision-making in most mental health settings. While the PSI has the potential for wide applicability, it has not yet been subjected to extensive validational study, which would provide information about the limits of its utility.

An example of this problem is seen with the Social Nonconformity Scale (Sn). Sn was constructed empirically from a content valid item pool by comparing 50 male and 50 female incarcerated New Jersey prisoners with a normal construction group. Thus, to be a “nonconformist” in the PSI construction sense is to be a lawbreaker. However, in the usual sense a “nonconformist” is someone who is independent, free thinking, and free acting. The question for the user, then, is whether a high score on Sn implies lawbreaking or independent behavior.

Lanyon (Note 1) has reported results of studies that compare heavy LSD users and nonusers and studies that compare political radicals (Weatherman, Black Panthers, and SDS members) and conservatives. These offer some support for the notion that Sn measures “social nonconformity” in the usual sense of the term. However, in both of these studies, experimental groups are so extreme as to go beyond the boundaries of the usual meaning of “social nonconformity.” The purpose of this paper is to report an attempt to cross-validate Sn with a group of less deviant nonconformists, female hitchhikers.

Hitchhiking females offer an interesting test for the validity of Sn. During recent years it has become relatively commonplace for high school and college age girls to hitchhike, at least occasionally, around campus communities. Still, it has not become common for females to hitchhike long distances and with great frequency. If Sn is a good measure of “social nonconformity,” one would expect that frequent hitchhikers would score higher than both the occasional hitchhikers and the nonhitchhikers.



Ss were approached randomly at a variety of locations around the University of Wisconsin and asked to participate in the study without reward. Those who agreed were asked several demographic questions and then given the PSI. A standardized administration procedure was not possible. Comparisons were made according to type of hitchhiking behavior.


The nonhitchhiking group (NHH) was composed of 17 females (age, QX¯ = 18.6). Sixteen were students. Social classification, based on father’s occupation, suggests that 13 were of middle-class origin. Group membership was limited to those girls who claimed that they neither had nor would hitchhike. The occasional hitchhiking group was composed of 14 females (age, x¯ = 20.7). Ten were students, and 10 were of middle-class origin. Group inclusion was determined by the S’s statement that she hitchhiked less than once a week and only outside the city when accompanied by a friend. There were 18 members (age, x¯ = 18.9) of the frequent hitchhiking group. Sixteen of these were students, and 14 were of middle-class origin. Group inclusion was determined by the S’s statement that she hitchhiked one or more times a week and long distances by herself.


Results confirmed the hypothesis. Nonhitchhikers had the lowest mean raw score on Sn (x¯ = 7.00, s = 3.04); occasional hitchhikers had the next lowest score (x¯ = 7.43, s = 3.46); and frequent hitchhikers had the highest score (x¯ = 9.67, s = 3.14). Differences among groups were statistically significant (F = 3.47, df = 2/46, p < .05). Post-hoc comparisons showed that the frequent hitchhikers scored significantly higher than both the occasional hitchhikers (t = 1.97, p < .05, one-tailed test) and the nonhitchhikers (t = 2.64, p < .01, one-tailed test).


The present findings suggest that the Social Nonconformitory scale of the Psychological Screening Inventory has validity for detecting differences in social conforming behavior. By virtue of the fact that significant differences were obtained in a study that compared a relatively minor social variant and used small samples, these results suggest that Sn is apt to have utility as a measure of conformance and nonconformance.

Reference Note

  1. Lanyon, R. I. Psychological Screening Inventory Research and development notes, 1971, No. 1. (mimeographed)


Lanyon, R. I. Development and validation of a Psychological Screening Inventory. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1970, 35, 1-24.

*^ Reprint requests should be addressed to James H. Johnson, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, Virginia 23501.

This article was originally published in ‘Journal of Clinical Psychology,’ 1978, 34(2), 366-367. The text was extracted and converted to html5 by Robert ‘prino’ Prins, who bears all responsibility for any errors that might still be present, please notify him if you find any.