My major theoretical contribution to the field of cognitive psychology and neuroscience is in developing a framework of individual differences in information processing, which dissociates between environmentally-sensitive individual differences (i.e. cognitive style), developed and shaped as a result of socio-cultural influences and physical environment, and more biologically determined individual differences in basic information processing (e.g., working memory, attention, fluid intelligence). My work on individual differences, and in particularly on the role of cognitive style in cognitive psychology and neuroscience, started in 1999. In 2007, I published a review paper on cognitive style in Psychological Bulletin, one of the top psychology journals.
My further research on this topic was focused on the reconceptualization of cognitive styles and developing a single theoretical framework enabling the unified systematization of cognitive styles in the fields of psychology, cognitive science, business, and education. My second review paper on individual differences in cognitive processing in Psychological Sciences for Public Interest (PSPI), co-authored with Carol Evans and Steve Kosslyn, introduces the idea of cognitive style as environmentally sensitive individual differences in information processing into the field of cognitive neuroscience. The environmental layers that affect CSs range from the microsystem (i.e., the immediate environment, such as school and family) to the macrosystem (e.g., institutional patterns of culture, such as economy and customs). These effects occur at multiple levels of information processing, ranging from perception and concept formation to higher-order cognitive processing and finally to metacognitive processing.
Furthermore, based on Czeslaw Nosal’s idea about the matrix style of cognitive style structure I proposed that CSs can be organized by a table in which the horizontal dimension represents distinct types of adaptations, which were taken to be irreducible to each other based on research on culturally sensitive differences in cognition and studies of members of different professions. These four types of adaptations (CS families) present four bipolar sets of information processing strategies, and they are: 1) context-dependency vs. context-independency, which refers to the preference to perceive events as separate vs. indistinguishable from their physical, temporal or semantic contexts; 2) rule-based vs. intuitive processing, which refers to preference for a rule-based and analytically-driven approaches, in comparison with a more intuitive, heuristic driven method of information processing; 3) integration vs. compartmentalization, that refers to the preference for a more integrative and holistic style of information processing, in comparison with the preference for a more compartmentalized, systematic approach for information processing; and 4) internal vs. external locus of processing, which refers to the tendency to perceive and locate the control of information processing as within or outside of oneself. The vertical dimension represents four conventional levels of information processing (Perception, Concept Formation, Higher-order Cognition, and metacognitive processing). Each CS family can operate at different levels of information processing. Therefore, any given person’s overall CS profile can be characterized by a 4X4 matrix, with each of the 16 cells specifying an elementary CS. Each of 16 elementary CSs represents a bipolar continuum of information processing strategies and reflects a particular adaptation operating at a specific level of information processing.
This matrix, informed by contemporary research in cognitive psychology and neuroscience, provides a clear categorization of different types of styles that can be used to standardize and guide future research examining cognitive style across different applied fields. The PSPI paper on cognitive style was featured by APS Society: https://www.psychologicalscience.org/publications/journals/pspi/cognitive-style.html
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