Cognitive style refers to a habitual and/or preferred means of approaching cognitive tasks ; the trait-like pattern of behavior an individual uses when approaching a problem-solving situation.

Moreover, Cognitive style is a usually described as a personality dimension which influences attitudes, values, and social interaction, Cognitive styles refer to the preferred way an individual processes information A number of Cognitive styles have been identified and studied over the years. Field independence versus field dependence is probably the most well known style. It refers to a tendency to approach the environment in an analytical, as opposed to global, fashion. At a perceptual level, field independent personalities are able to distinguish figures as discrete from their backgrounds compared to field dependent individuals who experience events in an undifferentiated way. In addition, field dependent individuals have a greater social orientation relative to field independent personalities. Studies have identified a number connections between this cognitive style and learning (see Messick, 1978). For example, field independent individuals are likely to learn more effectively under conditions of instrinstic motivation (e.g., self-study) and are influenced less by social reinforcement.

Other cognitive styles that have been identified include:

* scanning - differences in the extent and intensity of attention resulting in variations in the vividness of experience and the span of awareness

* leveling versus sharpening - individual variations in remembering that pertain to the distinctiveness of memories and the tendency to merge similar events

* reflection versus impulsivity - individual consistencies in the speed and adequacy with which alternative hypotheses are formed and responses made

* conceptual differentiation - differences in the tendency to categorize perceived similarities among stimuli in terms of separate concepts or dimensions.

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