We see, smell, smell, touch … in short, we perceive the stimuli that surround us. We process this information and, based on these perceptions, we form an idea of what is going on around us and act accordingly. Maybe for most people what we perceive is what is really going onBut not everyone perceives or treats them in the same way and in the same way.
Each has a specific cognitive style which makes us see reality in a particular way and focus more or less on certain aspects.
Cognitive styles: the concept
The concept of cognitive styles refers to the set of different ways of perceiving, processing, storing and using information available in the medium. It is a set of primarily cognitive skills that are influenced by different aspects and that govern the way we perceive what is around us, which in turn influences the way we act.
Strictly speaking, the cognitive style is the way our mind acts regardless of the content of that. The style in question will depend on the personality of the individual, the abilities in which he has focused and the learning he has achieved throughout his life.
Cognitive styles, as the term suggests, are determined by a set of primarily cognitive parameters. But also they are influenced by the emotional sphere and the integration of values and motivations. In fact, they are conceptualized as a reflection of the relationship between cognition and affection and are one of the main elements that allow the formation of personality and the existence of individual differences. In part, they are acquired throughout life, but there are biological influences that predispose to one style or another.
Main typologies of cognitive style
In general, the main types of cognitive style have been classified into bipolar continua which explain a concrete way of observing reality.
It’s not necessarily one thing or another, but our style may be at an intermediate point. Here are some of the main styles considered by various authors, the most relevant and analyzed being the first three.
1. Dependence vs independence in the field
This factor refers to the ability to abstract what is being analyzed or captured from the context in which it appears.
The field dependent usually has an overview of the situation and can be influenced by it, while the independent domain they usually do a more independent object-oriented analysis to which they pay attention but without valuing in the same way the context in which it appears. While the first has an external frame of reference centered on the situation, the second starts from a self-centered frame of reference.
On the other hand, the dependent of the field generally has more interference in the memory although it generally detects more the elements in suspense at the time of the formation of the concepts, being more suggestible and visual, more sociable and affectively less controlled. On the contrary, the independent is generally more verbal, more capturing the boundaries between things and people, more organized and less influential.
It usually tends to this independence in the field increases until the age of 25, When it stabilizes. Independence makes her less likely to be influenced by contextual variables, but this can be counterproductive because it does not take into account all the variables that affect reality. In this way, both the dependent and the independent person have advantages and disadvantages in different aspects.
2. Reflexivity vs impulsivity
On this occasion, mention is made of the speed of reaction to stimuli. The impulse responded quickly and actively, but with a greater chance of making mistakes. On the other hand, the reflective takes his time to analyze and assess the situation, which allows them even greater precision and efficiency which makes them slower and inactive.
It’s not just about speed, but also about facing reality. Reflective generally values more options and do more checks beforehand, while the pulse is more global. The reflective tends to be more calm and self-controlled even more indecisive while the impulsive tends to be more anxious, sensitive and suspicious.
3. Sensory vs intuitive
On this occasion, the cognitive style used may vary between using the data available through the senses and using the imagination and intuition to capture relationships beyond what is perceivable. Sensory is based on existing informationWhile the intuitive tends to have a slightly more spontaneous development mindset and to go beyond what the data provides.
4.verbal vs visual vs haptic
This time, the divergence lies in the way in which the person receives the information better, whether it is through an iconic or aural way. There is also the haptic, which captures reality better through touch. the last it is usually related to children and the elderly while the first two are more typical of young people and adults.
5. Global vs. Analytical / Holistic vs. Serial
Similar to field dependence and independence, but this time already focused on the object or the situation itself rather than the context. the overall style focuses on identifying the object as a whole as a single unit and undertakes its analysis as such. Everything is handled in bulk. However, the analytical style subdivides everything into different details from which it begins to process the information without needing to know the whole Datas.
6. Convergent vs Divergent
Linked in part to creativity, while the converge style focuses on finding a concrete solution based on the convergence of available information, the try to come up with various alternatives which can be difficult to choose from.
7. Leveler vs pencil sharpener
Cognitive styles in this dimension refer to the ability or degree to which subjects are able to see similarities and differences between stimuli. While the leveler tends to ignore or underestimate the differences between items for simplicity and this allows them to generalize more easily, sharpeners tend to keep differences and remarks, distinguishing more clearly the different elements.
8. Tolerant vs intolerant
This dimension refers to the ability of each person to be flexible and open-minded in the face of the possibility of the existence of elements that diverge from what was expected and established by the standard or self-observation. The tolerant accepts the possibility that there are other alternatives and is able to modify their cognitive structures to cover, while the intolerant does not do such a thing.
Importance of cognitive styles
Cognitive styles are an important part of our person that can help us better understand how each person processes information from the environment or from within. Beyond the description it may have implications in various fields such as education or clinical practice.
For example, a child with predominantly visual processing will find it more complex to capture verbal information and remember knowledge better if sight-oriented graphics or stimuli are applied. This is what happens to many children with different disorders, such as in many cases, autism spectrum disorder or in many speech disorders, in which the use of more visual pictograms and information makes it easier to understand and the acquisition of skills and knowledge.
At the clinical level, it is also very relevant considering that the cognitive style facilitates the interpretation of reality in a certain way. For example, it has been identified that field dependent patients tend to be more prone to pathologies such as depression, while field independent patients they do it for psychotic disorders. Likewise, the impulsive tends to stress, or the reflective may approach obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Taking cognitive styles into account can be very useful in establishing individualized plans in the diversity of fields, allowing a substantial improvement in the capacities and well-being of each from the adjustment of expectations and the supports offered to them. to go forward.
- Hernangómez, L. and Fernández, C. (2012). Personality and differential psychology. CEDE PIR preparation manual, 07. CEDE: Madrid.
- Quiroga, Mª. A. (1999). Individual differences in cognition-emotion interrelationships: cognitive styles. In Sanchez, J. & Sanchez, MP (Eds.). Differential psychology: human diversity and individuality. 2nd edition. Madrid. Ramón Areces Foundation.
- Padilla, VM; Rodríguez, MC and López, EO (2007). Cognitive styles and learning. In: The voice of researchers in educational psychology. Ed. Culture of Veracruz.