Cognitive style and socialisation:  Connections between age, gender, occupational type and intuitive-analytical behaviour in an international study

Jeanne Hill, Department of International Business, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK

Arja Puurula, Department of Teacher Education, University of Helsinki, Finland

This paper reports on the analysis of relaionships between cognitive style, 'cognitive confidence', and respondents age, gender and occupational status across a study of managers and students in the UK, Finland and Poland.

Several studies have looked for differences in the cognitive styles of respondents across age and gender groups, but have shown conflicting results (Allinson and Hayes, 1996, 2000; Hill et al 1998, 1999; Sadler-Smith, 1999; Taggart et al 1997).  This research provides more empirical evidence for this debate.

Similarly, the relationship between age and cognitive style is debateable.  Although studies such as the ones above have generally not demonstrated strong differences in style between groups of managers, there is some evidence to suggest that students, in general younger than managers, show more analytical reflective preferences.

Nor has the relationship between cognitive style, cognitive confidence and number of years of working experience yet been studied to any significant degree.

The cirrent study includes data from the Hill et al 1999 survey of 200 managers and 79 students in Finland, Poland and the UK, and further data from 1XX students of predominantly UK but mixed nationalities studying in England.   The cognitive styles of respondents, measured by the Allinson and Hayes (1993) Cognitive Styles Index and Hill et al's 1999 'cognitive confidence' measure of expressed self-confidence, desire for more (or less) reflection and trust in experience were examined for links with age, years of experinece in work, gender and occupational status.

The results are important in helping us to understand whether cognitive style, as measured along the intuition-analysis dimension, is sensitive to aspects of socialisation and learing.

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