Cognitive Style: Decision Making

Cognitive Style: Decision Making

Abdul Halim Busari (Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Malaysia)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4996-3.ch001


The purpose of this chapter is to explain the unique role of cognitive style decision making by digging into knowledge taken from different models and theories by different researchers and indicators developed by different authors. To understand the cognitive style, different models and theories were discussed in this chapter. The aim of this chapter is to give deep understanding of cognitive styles. Different theories and models from pieces of literature are explored. Based on a thorough review, this conceptual paper/chapter is given.
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Defining Cognitive Style

Cognitive style is getting attention nowadays in the pursuit of the understanding of leadership effectiveness in the organisation (Hayes & Allinson, 1994; Hodgkinson & Healey, 2008). This exploration is importance especially on the role of cognitive style which identifies individual differences in information processing styles, and their relationship with transformational and transactional leadership approaches to determine leadership effectiveness. In fact, the increased attentions of cognitive style in work and organisation over the last decades have enriching the management and organisational psychology literature (Hayes & Allinson, 1994; Sadler-Smith &Badger, 1998; Hodgkinson & Sadler-Smith, 2003). The importance of cognitive variables inclusion in leadership research has long been implicitly pointed out by Fiedler (1981: 631) as he noted:

…..The preoccupation of leadership research with affective rather than cognitive variables: the leader’s style, motivation, attitudes, perception of others, and relation with others. While these affective variables undoubtedly play an important part in the leader’s behavior and performance, we cannot afford to ignore the equally important part played by the leader’s knowledge, ability to solve problems, to learn, and to make sound judgments…it is to be hoped that these important variables will be restored to their rightful place in leadership theory.

Cognitive style has been defined in various ways especially in education and experimental psychology (Grigorenko & Sternberg, 1995; Riding, 1997). In the psychology literature cognitive style has been widely recognised as an important determinant of individual behaviour (Sadler-Smith & Badger, 1998) which has been identified as a high-level heuristic that controls behaviour across situations to solve problems (Brighmam, De Castro, & Shepherd, 2007; Kickul, Gundry, Barbosa, & Whitcanack, 2009). A definition of cognitive style as described by Messick (1984: 5) is “consistent individual differences in preferred ways of organising and processing information and experience”. It shows how people have their own “individual characteristics” way of perceiving, gathering, processing and using information and problem solving (Armstrong & Cools, 2009; Messick, 1996; Tennant, 1988). Individual characteristics such as cognitive style may influence leadership effectiveness. However, the basic notion of cognitive styles as how individual differ in term of receiving, gathering, interpreting and using information is reflected in the following definitions:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Analytical Style: Analysis is a characteristic of the left brain orientation, which refers to judgements based on mental reasoning and a focus on detail. In the organizational context, analysts prefer a structured approach to solving problems and decision making and tend to use systematic methods of investigation, recall verbal material most readily, and are especially comfortable with ideas requiring step-by-step analysis.

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