Holistic versus analytic cognitive style: Individual, organization and cultural differences

Eli Vakil

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The knowledge acquired in the last decades of research has clearly demonstrated that there are reliable individual differences between individuals' cognitive styles. Cognitive style is defined as the way in which a person processes information. Riding and Cheema (1991) reduced the various dissociations offered in the literature to two basic dimensions; Wholist-Analytic and Verbialiser-Imager. These styles are frequently attributed to the functioning of the right and left cerebral hemispheres, respectively. It has been shown that cognitive style affects decision making in terms of vocation and education. For example, individuals with a more pronounced analytic style tend to choose to major in applied sciences while individuals with a holistic cognitive style tend to choose to major in arts and social sciences. Furthermore, the matching hypothesis suggests that optimal performance is expected when the demands of a task correspond with the cognitive style of the person performing it. Apparently, it is not only individuals, but also organizations and even cultures that can be characterized as having a cognitive style. Other approaches have emphasized the importance of developing a flexible style that can adapt to the requirements of a task. Consequently, numerous tests were developed in an attempt to evaluate a person's cognitive style in order to help them optimize their decisions regarding occupation and education. This has implications for managers, teachers and policy makers who must be aware of the individual differences in cognitive style and adjust tasks or teaching methods to suit that of their employee or student in order to maximize that person's potential.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSystems Thinking
Subtitle of host publicationFoundation, Uses and Challenges
PublisherNova Science Publisher Inc.
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781634852418
ISBN (Print)9781634852234
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Nova Science Publishers, Inc.


  • Analytic
  • Cognitive style
  • Holistic


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