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Cognitive Style and Personality: Scanning and Orientation Toward Affect

Messick, Samuel J.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
National Institute of Mental Health, Affective Measures, Cognitive Style, Personality Traits, Scanning, Visual Perception


Cognitive styles, including the so-called defensive styles, are conceived as key variables in the organization and control of attention, impulse, thought, and behavior. As controlling variables, styles help regulate the direction, duration, intensity, range, and speed of cognitive processes as well as their initiation, maintenance, disruption, and termination. As organizing variables, styles contribute to the selection, combination, sequencing, and mode of cognitive processes. Such stylistic consistencies in the organization and control of information processing are here examined empirically in connection with a particular cognitive style, namely, scanning or individual consistencies in mode of attention. Consideration is also given to possible defensive functions of scanning in coping with intrusive impulses and affects. (73pp.)

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