A Detailed Analysis of the Wholist-Analytic Style Ratio
: a Methodology for Developing a valid and reliable measure of cognitive style

  • Jo Davies

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Riding's (1991) wholist-analytic dimension of cognitive style proposes a unidimensional view of global-analytic constructs, however, very little empirical evidence exists in support of a relationship between the styles in the wholist-analytic family, which has led to suggestions that style is best conceptualised as a more complex multidimensional construct (Hodgkinson and Sadler-Smith, 2003). Another major problem for Riding's (1991) wholist-analytic style construct is its lack of temporal reliability (Peterson, Deary and Austin, 2003; Rezaei and Katz, 2004; Parkinson, Mullally and Redmond, 2004; Cook, 2008). Furthermore, the current thesis argues that in addition to problems of reliability, the wholist-analytic dimension lacks predictive and construct validity. This thesis outlines two major methodological limitations with the current wholist-analytic ratio measurement, which have raised doubts over the efficacy of the ratio in discriminating between part processing and whole processing style. Firstly, the wholist-analytic ratio is confounded by reflective-impulsive style differences (Kagan, Rosman, Day, Albert and Phillips, 1964). Secondly, the nature of the tasks, combined with strategy preferences, set up an asymmetry in the basis of the wholist-analytic ratio. A new measure of wholist-analytic style, hereafter called the 'Wholist-Analytic Style (WAS) Analysis' has been developed to experimentally manipulate the presentation order of the subtests and the number of parts in the geometric stimuli. Performances on the WAS analysis and the CSA were compared to other styles in the wholist-analytic family to test the unidimensional approach to style. It was found that the wholist-analytic ratio is confounded by sensitivity to reflective style, with much of its discriminatory power being limited to the first subtest, and 6 there is an asymmetry in the part-whole processing basis of the wholist-analytic ratio. Furthermore, there is a consistent relationship between reflective-impulsive style and part-whole processing. This thesis proposes the theory of diminished reflection, which renders the wholist-analytic ratio invalid in its current form. The theory can account for the hereto-unexplained lack of temporal reliability of the wholist-analytic ratio and offers a practical solution to improve both the validity and stability of the ratio. This thesis offers partial support for the unidimensional perspective of style but makes strong links between reflective-impulsive style and part-whole processing preferences.
    Date of Award2009
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorMartin Graff (Supervisor) & Marion Kloep (Supervisor)

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