Cognitive Style

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There are different paths to insight. Some people like to act in a structured, logical and step-by-step manner. Other people act intuitively and have no problem with open-ended tasks. There is a specific way of processing information in each learner's brain caused by spatial specialization (lateralization of brain function). This can be named as a person's cognitive style.

Some validated models exist that help you to reflect on your way of learning and thinking, such as Allinson/Hayes' Cognitive Style Index. It places individuals on a continuum between the two poles of intuitive and analytical. Where on this continuum would you locate your stylistic orientation?

Your cognitive style




nonconformist, collage, open end, trial and error, space, inspiration, simultanous

compliant, structured, systematic, verbal, step by step, analytical, detailed, plan


Which of the words above best characterize your learning style? Most people are somewhere along the continuum, therefore you may use words, associated with both domains!


  1. J. Hayes, C. W. Allinson: Cognitive Style and its Relevance for Management Practice; British Journal of Management; Vol. 5, Issue 1; p. 53-71; 03/94

Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Editor of Competendo. Coordinator of the project DIGIT-AL Digital Transformation in Adult Learning for Active Citizenship. Network Secretary of the DARE network. Topics: active citizenship, civil society, digital transformation, non-formal and lifelong learning, capacity building. Blogs here: Blog: Civil Resilience. Email: