Personality attributes associated with two measures of cognitive style

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<ul><li><p>Aeta Psychologica 31 (1969) 353-364; /orth-Holland Publishing Co., Amsterdam NOt to be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher </p><p>PERSONALITY ATTRIBUTES ASSOCIATED W~TH TWO </p><p>MEASURES OF COGNITIVE STYLE </p><p>GEORGE SHOUKSM1TH Department of Psychology, The Queen's University of Belfa.~t, Ireland </p><p>ABSTRACT </p><p>A new ol3en-ended, abstract task which has n, true solution is t~sed to produce two measures of cognitive style. The task consists of a number of drawings, each of which shows two sticks which are partially buried in the ground. From a consideration of the choice pattern of subjects who are asked to suggest which stick has the longer total length, two style measures may be derived. Meast~re 1 assesses individual non- conformi~.y with the group approach to the problem. Measure 2 is a positionv.l score, reflecting the effect on judgment of the relative positioning of the ~wo sticks, qhe nature of these measures, in relation to certain group and pcrsonality variables, is investigated more fully. It ~s cor~cluded that people adopting a particular style vary in their personality characteristic:; by sex and from group to group. These differences are discussed and some general conclusions presented, relating the 'abstracting', consistent style to certain personality attributes commonly associated with t~e imaginative, creative thinker. </p><p>A ,~umber of recent studies reflect a growing interest in non-cognitive factors which affect cognitive functioraing. The development of research into the nature of creativity is, in one sense, an example of this trend. In essence this field of research has to do with the typical way in which an individual tackles the cognitive problems with which he is faced. These are not new concerns, but uatil recently they have perhaps been less the concern of the psycho!ogist than of the literary critic. B~net, however, was clearly interested in both the problem of 'style' and of 'bias'. REEV~ (1965) commenting on Binet's treatment of thinking, points out that Binet's analysis of the performances of the two 'high speed human calculators', Inaudi and Diamondi, led him to talk about individual differences in imagery, which we may equate with style, and the evidence of direction imposed by the prob'tent itself, or bias. In a symposium on 'Style m language" (SEBeOK, i960), Jenkins, speaking of "Psychologica~ approaches to the problem of style', concludes that 'what we hope to find is some characteristic of the individual some enduring quality of the man which would pop up in his poetry, in his novels'. A similar i:,_~erest in variability of approach to a cognitive </p><p>353 </p></li><li><p>354 ~ SHOUKSMITH </p><p>task can be seen in a number of fields, however. Jenkins is concerned to analyse the way that a particular artist 'characteristically modulates, modifies, or changes standard art form'. Harway (TRAPP and HI~U~L- sr~IN, 1962) is concerned with the variability of responses of orthopedic- ally handicapped children in a level of aspiration task. The results of Harway's studies reveal seven distinct patterns of approach and also that handicapped children differ from the normal in having a higher variability of responsiveness to success and failure. </p><p>Tlae term cognitive style may be used to refer to the adoption by an indi~,idual c,f a certain strategy or group of strategies in his approach to problem situations. In the sense in which it is used here, the term cognitive style includes all those phenomena which have previously been referred to as 'set~' or 'thinking modes' or the like. A variety of cognitive styles may be distinguished, some of which may be measured experimentally (e.g. WITKIN et al., 1962). In the present research, two measures of cognitive style were derived from an open-ended, abstract task which has no true solution. An insoluble problem series was chosen, since it seemed likely that if no real, logical solution was possible, the responses to the problem would reflect the individual's natural approach to thinking, the factors operating to determine the man,~er and direction of his thought processes. The prc~blem series used cor~- sisted of a number of drawings, each of which showed two sticks whch had been partially buried in the grc~und, so that only their top parts were; visible. Subjects were asked to say wh]ch of the two sticks tt~ey thought would be the longer, if they vcere taken out of the ground to reveal their full lengths. It was stressed that one could not work out the answer mathematically, as there were no right or wrong answers. Interest was centered on the patterning of responses to these pseudo- problems, which it wa.s anticipated would produce scores reflecting aspects of the individual subject's style in ~pproaching a cognitive task. In particular, two specitic style scores were isolated, as follows: </p><p>Measure 1. Preliminary studies with a series of sticks drawings revealed that a regular pattern of choices was produced by subjects within a. given sample. A measure of the degree to which a certain sub- jec~ conforms to th~s pattern may be obtained by counting the number of occa~,ions on which the subject's choice differs from the group choice. when the group choice itself differs significantly from chance. This may be regarded a~ a measure of individual non-conformity with the group approach to the problem. </p></li><li><p>SOME PERSONALITY ATTRIBUTES OF COGNITIVE STYLE 355 </p><p>Measure 2. If each pair of sticks is re-presented with its left-right positions in the drr~.,ving reversed, a further style measure may be ob- tained. By counting the number of times a subject shifts his choice on the re-presentation a second score may be derived, representing the degree og~ inconsistency the subject shows in his stimulus choices. Thi,; may be a positional score, reflecting the effect on judgement of the re- ative positioning of the two sticks. </p><p>To investigate the nature of these style measures we compared szore:; obtained from three different samples, of approximately the sam~:~ agc: range, but from different populations. These scores were used both to identify group and sex differences which occur in approaches to think- ing and in an exploratory study to attempt to isolate personality character- istics associated with the two style measures. </p><p>METHOD </p><p>Subjects Three samples were used, one drawn from first year University ;tudents, </p><p>/he other two from first year College of Education students. The first sample, sample A, consisted of 216 first-year students of p3ychotogy at The Queen's University of Belfast. The sample was drawn from both Arts and Sciet.ce faculties in the ratio of about 2:1. There were I04 males and 112 females in the sample. The second group, sample B, was the first drawn from a College of Education. This consisted of 103 first year students, 29 males and 74 females, all of whom weze pu-~suing a three-year course of teacher training. This sample was drawn f~'em the first year group at Stranmillis College of Education, Belfast. A random ~ample was selected by choosing every third name on the class lists, males and females being treated separately, The first two sa~r~ple.q, were, therefore, both drawn from Northern Ireland and represent two different student populations. In our third sample, we tried to ct~oo~e a student group which would equate with one of the Northern ~Ir~;land samples, but which would represent an English population. The most suitable population offered for comparison was "hat from Edge Hill College of Education, Lanczshire. This College, like Stranmillis, draws its students from urban and rural backgrounds on a predomir~antly regional basis. One third of the fi"st year group were randoml, y selected by the staff of the College, producing a sample of 44 studt~nts. This formed our third sample, s,~.mple C. Unfortunately, because of the divi- sion of sexes in the College as a whole, this meant that only 11 of the </p></li><li><p>356 ~3. SHOUKSMITIt </p><p>44 were male students. Administrative difficulties made it impossible for tile College to provide a larger sample. </p><p>The "stic/cs" problems Ti~:; stiel,:s problems may be described as a series of insoluble non- </p><p>verbal problem situations. Each problem i~ presented in the form of a drawing representing two sticks shown embedded in the ground. The drawings are schematic, consisting of a horizontal line in green to represent the ground and line drawings of those parts of the sticks which are above ground, in black, and with cet~t~'es 10 cm apart. The sticks represented in these drawings are of t~vo lengths above ground, two thicknesses, and are drawn in one of two positions in relation to the ground line, Long sticks are 10 cm along their own centre line and shot! sticks are half this length, i.e. 5 cmo Thic~.~ ~ticks are 2.5 cm wide end narrow sticks only 1 cm wide. Sticks of tile various ~;~7~ are drawn in one of two positions, either upright or sloping to the ief~ at an angle c~f 45 degrees. The above series of eight ,~tick,; are presented in all com- binations of two,, forming a series of 56 drawings. The 'sticks' used were chosen on the basis of a pilot study which showed that they formed a meaningful, scalable series and that they produced sufficient variability in choice patterns to permit scoring of the two style measures described earlier. </p><p>The A/lport ascendance-submission scale. Thi~,; tc~t measures the tendency to seek adju:~tment through ascenda.ace </p><p>or dominance in social situations. </p><p>7t2e Maudsley personality inventory Tt:eeretical c:onsiderations ,,;uggested that those subjects responding </p><p>in a restrictive way, that is in a conformist and positionally consistent manner, might well be anxious; groups. Thus ~he two low groups might </p><p>e~pected to score more highly on the Maudsiey scale for neuroticism. The use of the MPI also allowed us to relate the two cognitive styles to extroversion. </p><p>The G,gilford-Zimmerman temperament sc.~edule The Guilford-Zimmerman inventory is a factored test measuring </p><p>the follo ring: general activity (G), restraint (R), ascendance (A), socia- bility (S), emotional stabili~:~ (E), objectivity (O), friendliness (F), </p></li><li><p>SOME PERSONALITY ATTRI[~U'IES OF COGN,~TIVE STYLE 3~7 </p><p>thoughtfulness (T), personal relations (P), masculinity (M). It provides good general assessments of various aspects of personality which accords with the exploratory na~are of the present study. Specifically, it provides additional measures o~' both ascendance and extroversion. In the case of the latter, Gui l ford and Z immerman adopt an American approach which, unlike that of the MPI separates the various co~ponents of </p><p>extroversion and measures them independently. </p><p>RESULTS </p><p>The first results compare performances of the different groups The mean score for measure ~, or non-conformity, for each sample is shown in table 1 together with the standard deviations, sample sizes and an additional item, the number of drawing~ for each sample on which the </p><p>style score is based. Similar statistics for style m. -sure 2, or incon- </p><p>sistenc~, are given in table 2. </p><p>TA)~ LE l Number of significant drawings, means and standard deviations of mea,~,ure 1 scores </p><p>for each sample. </p><p>Samples A B C Males Females Ma'~es Females Males Females </p><p>Non of sig. drawings 33 40 20 33 6 6 Mean score 10.13 15.27 5.07 11.31 _ 1 1.79 SD 7.18 8.50 3.38 6,02 __ t 1.51 n 104 112 29 74 11 33 </p><p>1 Sample ~ze and number of significant drawings too small to produce meaningful statistics. </p><p>TABLE 2 </p><p>Meaas and standard deviations for measure 2 scores in the three samples. </p><p>Samples A B C Maies Females Males Females Males Females </p><p>Mean Score 3.13 5.84 8.76 8,09 - - 9.97 SD 2.22 2.29 4.26 3.75 - - 3.75 n 10,7 112 29 74 11 33 </p></li><li><p>358 ~. SttOUKS/VIiTrl </p><p>The relationship between the two style measures was also calculated in the three samples. For male University students the correlation be- tween measures 1 and 2 was r = 0.574 and for females, r = 0.534. Comparable figures for tt~e two College of Education samples were, sample B, males r = 0.516: females, r = 0.211 and for sample C~ females, r-----0,181. The small n for th,: group of male,,; in sample C prevented ~Jur calculation ,of that eorreJation. </p><p>The MPI and the a scendance-suh.nis~ion scale were administeled Lo sample A only. Groups h;gh and low on the two style measures, non-confbrmity and inconsistency, were formed for both males and females, by dividing the total sample at the median on those measures, The me,Jian scores of the measure 1 groups on the A-S scale and on the MPI neuror:icism and etroversion factors were compared, the median test being used to establish the ,~ignificance of differences found between the:~e group scores for each dependent variable. The same proce- dure we, s followed for the high and low groups, distinguished in terms of measure 2. The results of this analysis are summarized in table 3. </p><p>TABLE 3 Median sco,res of the four cognitive style groups on the MPt variables and the A-S scale. </p><p>Me~e~ure 1 Non-conformity Measure 2 Inconsistency ~Tales Femate~ Males Females </p><p>Variable High Low l-iigh Low High Low High Low </p><p>A-S Score ---0.9 --1 ] .4 t ---3.5 --5.5 --0.5 --9.3 t --0.5 -4).75 MPI.-N 12.2 t5.71 14.25 15.5 12.2 14,4 14.0 15.0 MPI--E 15.2 11.5 14,0 14.7 14.5 14.3 14.3 14.5 </p><p>1 Indicatez a pair of scores which differ significantly at the 0.05 level at least. </p><p>The Guilford-Zimmerman scale was administered to sample C and a median-split technique again adopted to produce groups high and low on each of the style measures. Scores obtained by subjects in the i~igh group on each personality factor were compared with scores for the low group in that style measure. The M~nn-Whitney lJ test was used to test the significance of differences found on scores for each variable for t1~c two groups. S in~ this was an exploratory study, we adopted WALLACE: and KOOAN'S (1965) procedure of ac:epth~.g a differ- once o fp &lt; 0.10 for extracting significant factors. Tables 4 and 5 show </p></li><li><p>SOI~:IE PER~ONALITY ATTR;iBUTES OF COGNITIVE ;qTYLE 359 </p><p>those facto;s, scores for the groups concerned, significar~ce levels and </p><p>the raw scores giving -he 50 ~ tile on the Amer ican norms for the test. </p><p>TABLE 4 </p><p>Guilford-Zinamerman factors producing significantly different scores in high and lov groups on the t,vo styie measure~ ~ for females in sample C. </p><p>Measure 1 Non-conformity Measure 2 lncont~istency Personality f'~ctors R S T R A T </p><p>Mean ~ore for High group 13.6 14.8 18.7 Low group 16.9 17.2 21.4 </p><p>p of diff', being zero 0.079 0.082 0.079 Test norms f,31 50% tile 16 20 18 </p><p>14.4 15.4 19.7 17.9 12.2 21.4 </p><p>0.049 0.028 0.076 16 14 18 </p><p>TABLE 5 </p><p>G,ailford-Zi.nmerman factors producing significantly differet~t scores in high and low groups on the two style measures for males in sample C. </p><p>Personality factors </p><p>Mean score for High group Low group </p><p>Measure 1 Non-conformity Measure 2 Inconsistency F T A </p><p>7.2 19.6 10o8 t4.6 </p><p>11.2 15.0 </p><p>p of diff. being zero 0.089 0.063 0.063 Test norms for 50% tile 14 18 16 </p><p>(No informat ion is pre...</p></li></ul>

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