A psycholexical approach to the elucidation of Cognitive Style
The University of Melbourne, Australia
The promising potential of Cognitive Style as a useful measure of individual differences appears to be somewhat frustrated by there being many differing conceptualisations, constructs and instruments resulting from a wide variety of theoretical orientations. Also, the dominant orientation of cognitive style instruments has been as performance type measures of cognitive processes and ability, rather than questionnaires or checklists of personality type constructs. These two factors led to considerations of whether it was possible to elucidate a comprehensive and universal set of personality type cognitive style constructs, using some sort of grounded (rather than theoretically based) methodology.
A grounded approach known as the psycholexical method has been shown to be effective in personality research, successfully elucidated personality constructs consistent with the "Big Five" personality factors which have emerged as common factors across the various personality measures. Adapting the psycholexical method, we sought to elucidate cognitive styles as
evident in late adolescents, using secondary teachers as astute expert observers. Around 700 Victorian (Australia) government and private secondary school teachers generated 1040 style descriptive adjectives forming the basis for a comprehensive cognitive style lexicon. This lexicon was consolidated into 99 principal adjectives and teachers rated 1192 senior secondary students against this list. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis have established a model with 11 first-order style factors
including logical-rational, technical-spatial, complex-abstract, conventional-alternative, verbal-expressive and artistic-poetic. A
confirmatory second and third-order factor model for cognitive style will also be described
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