Background. The paper highlights the necessity of studying the role of various high-level psychological mechanisms that participate in regulating sensory perceptual processes occurring under perceptual uncertainty.
Objective. The objective was to study the role of cognitive styles as crucial factors of individual differences that determine the performance of near-threshold and threshold sensory tasks on loudness discrimination.
Design. The tasks represented the discrimination of loudness of 1000Hz tonal signals in the ‘similar-different’ paradigm. The stimulus factor was presented by the difficulty level set by the value of difference between the stimuli (2 or 1 dB). Five cognitive styles (augmenting-reducing, leveling-sharpening, flexibility-rigidity of cognitive control, equivalence range, and focusing-scanning) were considered as factors of individual differences. The sensitivity index A‵, RT and its stability, and also confidence index for each task were analyzed.
Results. The significant and quasi-significant (0.05<p<0.1) effects of separate cognitive styles and also their interactions effects were identified. These effects varied depending on the task difficulty level. Cognitive styles ‘augmenting-reducing’ (p=0.008) and ‘leveling-sharpening’ (p=0.044), together with their interaction (p=0.042), affected sensitivity in threshold task; the interaction of these styles affected sensitivity in near-threshold task (p=0.047). ‘Flexibility-rigidity of cognitive control’ (p=0.042) as well as the interaction of ‘augmenting-reducing’ and ‘leveling-sharpening’ affected RT (p=0.073) and its stability (p=0.083). Subjective confidence in the near-threshold task depended on such cognitive styles as ‘flexibility-rigidity of cognitive control' (p=0.081), and ‘equivalence range’ (p=0.043); the threshold task depended on ‘focusing-scanning’ (p=0.021), ‘flexibility-rigidity of cognitive control' (p=0.071), and ‘equivalence range’ (p=0.018), alongside the interaction of the latter two (p=0.052). The results were compared to the ones of threshold and near-threshold visual signal detection tasks performance.
Conclusion. Being crucial situational determinants of solving sensory tasks under perceptual uncertainty, the type and difficulty level of the task mediate the effects of individual differences factors on sensory performance indices. The results are discussed within the framework of system activity approach in psychophysics.
The paper presents an analytical review of cognitive styles research, considering the problems of its theory, methodology, measurement and practical applications. Issues concerning the prospects, as well as theoretical and practical relevance of cognitive styles research, are discussed. We examine the main causes leading to researchers’ declining interest to study of cognitive styles, related to theory, methodology, measurement and practical applications. The main problems discussed relate to lack of clear definition and common theoretical framework. Moreover, the number of empirical studies prevails over the one aimed at theoretical generalization of empirical results and findings, and therefore the primacy of empirics appears. We analyze the possible ways of advancing the field, suggested research programs and potential perspectives for future research. We pose questions of the relationship between cognitive styles and other psychological constructs, such as abilities and cognitive strategies. We emphasize the need to develop integrative models of cognitive styles in order to systematize and organize a large number of existing cognitive styles dimensions. The main controversial issues concerning cognitive styles’ stability and value are considered. We suggest that cognitive style is a psychological mean of cognitive tasks solving, based on both situation circumstances and subject’s current cognitive resources. Issues concerning cognitive styles may answer the question on the nature of individual differences and clarify psychological mechanisms of personality-situation interaction. Furthermore, it may serve as a basis for integrated studies at the areas of personality and cognitive psychology.