What’s Your Thinking Style?

Three types of thinking styles tend to reflect your cultural background. Try this quiz to see how you think!

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Our cultural and environmental backgrounds have a deep influence on the way that we think about the world. Researchers have identified at least three basic styles, called taxonomic, holistic, and functional. Try the quiz below to find out your style, and read further below to find out what the styles mean.

1. Which of the two items below best relates to the item pictured above?

2. Which one of the two items below best relates to the item pictured above?

3. Which one of the two items below best relates to the item pictured above?

4. Which two items of these three best belong together?

5. Which two items of the three best belong together?

6. Which two items of the three best belong together?

7. Which two items of the three best belong together?

8. Which two items of the three best belong together?

9. Which one of the four items does NOT belong with the group?

Early investigators used the method seen in the first three questions, called a “triad test,” to determine whether subjects were tending to think about incoming information by focusing on its characteristics and then assigning it to a category (which we will call Taxonomic cognition), or by emphasizing the relationships and similarities among the objects (which we will call Holistic cognition). In 2004, a team doing research in the Dominican Republic asked the subjects to explain their reasoning behind the choices they made, and determined that a third category of cognition, “Functional,” helped to explain some of the results they were getting. A functional cognition is used by a subject who looks at the objects with reference to him/herself and evaluates the usefulness of the objects.

The taxonomic cognition tends to be more associated with an individualist culture, while holistic cognition occurs more in collectivist cultures. The functional cognition is associated with the holistic cognition, and tends to show up in collectivist cultures as well.

The pictures are designed to have a pair of objects that can be categorized with shared, similar characteristics inherent to them that make them different than another object, as well as a pair of objects that have some kind of relationship and similarity based on that relationship with one another. For example, in the first set of pictures with a train, a bus, and a set of tracks, a train and a bus share the inherent characteristics of being wheeled, powered vehicles, which makes the two of them different than a stationary set of tracks. The train and the tracks, however, have a relationship to one another—the train depends on the tracks to properly function.

To summarize, here are categories of cognition, or reasoning methods, that we can determine from the answers to the questions above:

T – Taxonomic. Arranging things by analyzing and assigning a category.  In taxonomical (analytic) categorization, a person focuses on the central object and its attributes and then reasons about it using categories and rules.

biobook_taxonomy_graphik_6

H – Holistic.  Holistic (thematic) categorization emphasizes the relationships and similarities among objects and events in the broad perceptual and conceptual field.

Holistic Thinker

F — Functional.  Referring to oneself and reasoning only with utility to self or family, i.e. finding the two objects useful to oneself.

Functional-Team-300x204

For more detailed discussion, please see the article

Is the way you reason influenced by your culture?

focal-fish-image

Copyright © 2017 by Robert Cummings All rights reserved.

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