Different Dimensions of Cognitive Style in Typical and Atypical Cognition: New Evidence and a New Measurement Tool


We developed the Sussex Cognitive Styles Questionnaire (SCSQ) to investigate visual and verbal processing preferences and incorporate global/local processing orientations and systemising into a single, comprehensive measure. In Study 1 ( N = 1542), factor analysis revealed six reliable subscales to the final 60 item questionnaire: Imagery Ability (relating to the use of visual mental imagery in everyday life); Technical/Spatial (relating to spatial mental imagery, and numerical and technical cognition); Language & Word Forms ; Need for Organisation ; Global Bias ; and Systemising Tendency . Thus, we replicate previous findings that visual and verbal styles are separable, and that types of imagery can be subdivided. We extend previous research by showing that spatial imagery clusters with other abstract cognitive skills, and demonstrate that global/local bias can be separated from systemising. Study 2 validated the Technical/Spatial and Language & Word Forms factors by showing that they affect performance on memory tasks. In Study 3, we validated Imagery Ability , Technical/Spatial , Language & Word Forms , Global Bias , and Systemising Tendency by issuing the SCSQ to a sample of synaesthetes ( N = 121) who report atypical cognitive profiles on these subscales. Thus, the SCSQ consolidates research from traditionally disparate areas of cognitive science into a comprehensive cognitive style measure, which can be used in the general population, and special populations.