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Cognition: Theory, Measurement and Implications

May 15, 2014 | By Maretha Prinsloo & Paul Barrett

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This article focuses on cognition, which is of critical importance within educational and work environments, as well as within the context of leadership assessment and development. Up to a point, cognitive factors enable the emergence of consciousness, and very importantly, the implementation of one’s world view, or level of awareness, as covered in a previous article in this journal. This does not imply a linear relationship between cognition and consciousness.

People with high levels of cognitive capability, for example, can be found at any of the various levels of consciousness as hypothesised by various consciousness theorists and developmental psychologists (Prinsloo, 2012). Here, cognition is also not merely regarded as intellectual “ability”, which has been the dominant perspective within psychology and psychometrics for more than a century. The view proposed here involves an integration of various scientific questions posed by different research traditions within the field of intelligence and cognition, aimed at addressing the:

  • “what” of intelligence as embraced by Differential psychology and the IQ tradition.
  • “how” of thinking as reflected by the Information Processing paradigm, and cognitive and computational neuroscience;
  • “when” of cognitive capacity explored by Developmental psychologists such as Piaget and Vygotsky; and the…
  • “where” of competence as researched by the Contextualist school

While focusing on a theoretical model of cognitive processes and a methodological approach for the measurement of cognitive capabilities and preferences, as well as contextualising cognition within the real world and the broader spectrum of consciousness.

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