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Personality Development, Cognition and Intelligence Essay


The type of cognitive processing style

The topic of cognition and learning styles have received deep attention from psychologists, educationists, and other theorists interested in illuminating how an individual’s cognition influences his or her learning style and capabilities. At the most basic level, cognition refers to how an individual processes information and, as such, cognitive styles illustrate an individual’s characteristic mode of thinking, recalling, or problem-solving (Cognitive/Learning Styles, n.d.).

More specifically, a cognitive style refers to an individual’s predisposition to act or behave in a particular manner, and many psychologists usually view cognitive style in the context of a personality dimension that manipulates attitudes, values, behaviors, and social interaction. Learning styles, on the other hand, purposely deal with typical styles of learning.

The type of cognitive processing style used by an individual undoubtedly influences his or her learning style (Blanton, 2004). A variety of cognitive styles have been identified and comprehensively studied over the years, but the most talked about in the field independence versus field dependence cognitive style. This particular style, according to Argyle (1994), refers to the orientation to approach the environment in a systematic style as opposed to a passive, generalized tendency. It has been demonstrated that field-independent personalities have the capacity to distinguish figures or objects as detached from their background as opposed to field-dependent personalities, who lacks the capability to experience events in a differentiated manner.

As such, field-independent individuals have a greater aptitude for cognitive restructuring in learning (Blanton, 2004), and do not necessarily require the input of a third party to reason out why something functions the way it does. In essence, they are autonomous, self-reliant individuals who “…learn more effectively under conditions of intrinsic motivation (e.g., self-study) and are influenced less by social reinforcement” (Cognitive/Learning Styles, n.d., para. 2).

On the contrary, field-dependent individuals depend more on social interactions and social reinforcement for learning and have a greater aptitude for interpersonal skills. As such, they prefer to learn in small groups where they can receive external reinforcement that serves to manipulate their reactions to the learning experiences (Blanton, 2004).

Personality is influenced by the inherent learning styles occasioned by an individual’s cognitive styles. For instance, individuals who develop an intrinsic motivation towards learning are also likely to be impersonal and absolutely unaware of the social stimulus value (Blanton, 2004). As such, society is likely to view them as inner-directed, cold, and individualistic individuals, and their personalities are likely to be viewed as such. On the contrary, individuals who develop extrinsic motivation towards learning are likely to be viewed as warm, inter-personal oriented, effective, loving, and accommodating (Blanton, 2004). Such perceptions are likely to influence their personalities at a societal level.

Schema in Psychology

A schema can simply be described as a mental structure that individuals employ to organize and simplify the knowledge and events happening around them (Changing Minds.Org, 2010). Schemas influence the way we make decisions, act, and classify things that we see within the social environment—as such, having a negative self-schema will undoubtedly affect how a specific individual interacts with others in terms of negatively influencing his or her thought processes and social behavior. An individual with a negative self-perception of people is less likely to establish lasting interpersonal relationships and will find it increasingly hard to open his thoughts to the world. Such individuals are known to live in solitary (Argyle, 1994).

According to Albrecht (2005), Social Intelligence (SI) can be characterized “…as a combination of a basic understanding of people – a kind of strategic social awareness – and a set for interacting successfully with them” (para. 3).

A strong SI, above anything else, gives individuals adequate insight on how to approach issues and situations affecting them. As such, SI should be viewed as a competency that enhances our capacity to solve problems and get along with people, including how we influence them to be on our side. Consequently, an individual with a well developed SI will positively respond to any given situation in an attempt to offer tenable solutions while another with a weak SI is likely to be overwhelmed by events happening around him or her, leading to depression, frustration, or anxiety.

Self-guides are intricately related to schemas and SI and imply standards or goals that individuals are motivated to meet in their lifespan. According to Higgins (1999), these standards prompt action, motivate performance and arouse emotions. The perspectives that we form within our social environment are largely influenced by the standards that are internalized within us and the motivating factors that cause as to act in a particular manner. A person whose ideal self-guide is to become the best he can ever be in his profession is likely to develop a positive perception of all the things within the social environment that will help him optimize his performance towards achieving his goal in life. The opposite is always true for people who do not develop self-guides.

Reference List

Albrecht, K. (2005). Social Intelligence: The New Science of Success; Beyond IQ, Beyond EI, Applying Multiple Intelligence Theory to Human Interaction. Web.

Argyle, M. (1994). The psychology of interpersonal behavior, 5th Ed. London: Penguin Books

Blanton, E. (2004). . Web.

Changing Minds.Org. (2010). . Web.

Cognitive/Learning styles. (n.d.). Web.

Higgins, E. (1999). Self-discrepancy: A theory relating to self & Effects. In: R.F. Baumeister. The Self in Social Psychology (eds). Philadelphia: Psychology Press.

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