Chapter 6

Study 4

Self-Report Online Questionnaire versus The Identity Compass Profile Output




Since the exploratory study (chapter 3), the research question that emerged from the literature review morphed into a more succinct question regarding the measure of self-awareness, as it was discovered that the participants of studies 1 and 2 were less self-aware than the original question hypothesised, and the use of Cognitive Intentions was less understood by the participants than initially hypothesised. Instead of asking how the thinking of post-graduate students mapped against the Identity Compass, it was necessary to determine an individual’s awareness of the relationship between these Cognitive Intentions, in order to measure the self-awareness in the moment. The research question thus became:

Does Dynamic Intelligence exist as a conceptual measure of self-awareness in the moment?

In order to answer this new question, it was necessary to determine to what extent the participants were aware of their intention in the moment using a bespoke questionnaire as a measure of their Cognitive Intention use. This also involved reframing the objectives for the current study. Study 3’s objectives were:

  1. To determine if there are Cognitive Intentions common to 8,200 profiles
  2. To determine if the larger dataset confirms or contradicts the existence of Thinking Styles by virtue of the various combinations of Cognitive Intentions
  3. To determine if a similar or different subset of dominant Cognitive Intentions arises
  4. To determine if the Thinking Quotient scale is valid for 8,200 profiles as it was for 177

The hypotheses that emerged from the previous studies were:

  1. Individuals are not aware of their use of Cognitive Intentions in context
  2. Each level of the Thinking Quotient has a unique combination of Cognitive Intentions which equates to different thinking styles
  3. Individuals are not aware of their thinking style using CI combinations
  4. Thinking Styles, and thus behaviour, can be influenced by polar CI intervention

The amended objectives for the current study, taking into account the findings from the previous studies were:

  1. To determine to what extent participants are aware of their use of Cognitive Intentions in their thinking style
  2. To determine to what extent participants understand the use of Cognitive Intentions in their own thinking style
  3. To determine to what extent each participant is aware of the variation between the CI pairs (such as Internal/External) and what this means for their thinking style
  4. To determine how each participant thinks about the 13 Cognitive Intentions as described in the first questionnaire

This list of objectives brought forth a new set of hypotheses for the current study:

  • Individuals are not aware of their use of Cognitive Intentions in context
  • Individuals are not aware of their thinking style using CI combinations
  • Individuals are not aware of their self-awareness (meta-awareness)

Study 4 was devised in order to further substantiate the underpinnings of the theory of Constructed Development by asking each participant to rate themselves on thirteen Cognitive Intentions as defined by the researcher. They then undertook an Identity Compass profile in order to give a subjective score on each Cognitive Intention in order to compare against their self-report score to discover the differences, and what it meant for their thinking.

            The first step was to discover what the extant literature on self-awareness reported on an individual’s level of awareness in the moment.

Awareness is Out of Awareness

Individuals today are and must be constantly considering and addressing their self-perception and change it in relation to new influences and experiences with which we are constantly confronted (Illeris, 2017: p184-185).

Socrates believed that by active listening and questioning he could elevate his audience’s self-awareness (cited in Laske, 2009). That is to say, by asking exploratory questions about a person’s intentions, he would hold a mirror to their thinking and bring to awareness their cognitive intentions, offering a more dynamic responsiveness in the moment. This continues the discussion from the previous chapter (Study 3) where it was argued that self-awareness is a factor in one’s hypocrisy, according to Laske (2015), borne of their lack of awareness of how they construct their thinking in the moment.

From the literature, there was a distinct connection between levels of self-awareness and an individual’s cognitive capacity or complexity. This was evident in the meaning-making changes between the stages of Loevinger’s conventional and post-conventional thinking where reflexivity was key (Taborga, 2012; Jordan, 2011). In order to have the capacity for heightened self-awareness, one must engage in self-reflective thought (Eigel & Kuhnert, 2016). However, this was a circular paradox in that the less-capable thinker will have a more simplistic relationship with their self-awareness, and thus discover more simplistic facets of their self-awareness than a more complex thinker.

Joiner & Josephs (2007) extend this by saying the development of self-awareness was an increasing capacity to maintain internal [thinking] processes. According to their Catalyst stage, the ability to step back in the moment and notice both thinking and feeling was when self-awareness first becomes possible. This was represented in studies 1 to 3 by the Cognitive Intention ‘Observer’. Jordan (2011 PAGE XXX) suggested that a developed self-awareness allowed an individual to work on strategies to transform their habituated patterns of thinking and behaving. He used the phrase ‘perspective awareness’ when referring to personal meaning-making. He advocated the noticing of other people’s patterns and habituated meaning-making systems:

…A strong perspective awareness means that the individual reflects on the properties of perspectives, realizes that these properties can be different and that they can develop over time, and, most importantly, that the properties of perspectives cause people to make sense of events in particular ways.

The tendency for self-awareness becomes ‘perspective awareness’ when one starts to perceive one’s own patterns of reasoning in a systemic way. The system used can be Cognitive Intentions or other equivalents. Guiette & Vandenbempt (2017, p.60) wrote that:

Reflexive sense-making of change loosens the grip of rationalizing, controlling and predicting change by placing a premium on acknowledging and allowing the emergent processes of change to come into existence.

Joiner and Josephs (2007) went so far as to say that self-awareness and intention were what made growth between developmental stages possible. Although the literature has not currently been linked to meditative practises, there is an over-lap with the types of self-reflection required for higher self-awareness and meditation methods, such as mindfulness. Joiner (2011) stated that the more equipped leader is much more likely to practise some form of meditation than their less-successful peers. Luthans and Avolio (2003) consider self-awareness to be responsible for authenticity, as it leads to self-regulation. However, this does not take in to account an individual’s starting level of complexity, as discussed in the literature review.

Forbes (2016) stated that mindfulness meditation is an active practice that can follow the developmental path by making one’s subjective experience objectively aware. For the purposes of the current study, the subjectivity in question is divided into fifty Cognitive Intentions, and was also linked to Kegan’s (1994) Subject/Object theory.

From an organisational perspective, Duval and Lalwani (1999) stated that self-aware managers are not only aware of their thoughts, feelings and limitations, but are also open to the feedback of peers and incorporate it in their thinking. Thus, understanding of and acceptance of how others view them is key to self-awareness. This aligns to Laske’s (2008) Stage 4 individual, self-authoring, who also recognises the impact of others, without necessarily taking responsibility for their being.

The above few examples of self-awareness are all generic in their interpretation, whereas the effects of self-awareness within the current study are to be specifically deconstructed using thirteen Cognitive Intentions, as this allows the continuation of the substantiation of the theory with the previous three studies.

Self-awareness allegedly refers to an individual having a deep understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, learned preferences, and insight into one’s impact on others in interpersonal contexts (McCauley, et al., 2010). Combined with this is Kegan’s view that in order to be ‘Object to’ a strength or weakness (as opposed to Subject to it) one must develop a sense of awareness of that thought or behaviour in context, after which, one will potentially have the choice to either do it or not. However, Harney, (2018) points out that just because something becomes an object of awareness does not mean it is automatically integrated. Cultural self-awareness is often studied from the perspective of linking one’s understanding of self with experience, and requires conscious reflection of one’s cultural influences (Lu and Wan, 2018). However, should an experience be of greater importance to an individual, they are more likely to give it more importance and thus a greater awareness of it is developed. This often results in a higher emotional impact (Ward, Bochner, & Furnham, 2001) which is then counter-to the principles hypothesised in the current study that in order to develop one’s thinking, one must move through emotion into cognition. Further, by virtue of the fact that an individual would place greater emotional importance to a particular task or experience is indicative of their lack of awareness.

Historically, research on self-awareness suggests that it is limited (Paulhus, Lysy, & Yik, 1998) and also biased towards flattering and improving oneself (Alicke, 1985; Dunning, Meyerowitz, & Holzberg, 1989; Taylor & Brown, 1988). Whilst the consequences of such biases continue to be argued (Colvin & Block, 1994), there is relative consensus that self-awareness is lacking in most domains. That is to say, it could be that those psychologists were measuring the wrong thing. In an organisational setting, the outcome is no different. People are not aware of how assertive they are, and completely mis-read the signs from others about their self-perception of their own assertive behaviour (Ames & Wazlawek, 2014). Ames et al (2014) determined that those people who are either under- or over-assertive are unaware of their non-standard position on what it is to be assertive in context.

Awareness in the moment

Wall, Burns, and Llewellyn (2017) find one cannot ignore social construction as an active source of information for an individual’s ability to think and process knowledge in the moment. For example, both Goldberg, Rich, et al., (2016) and Zarrabi (2016) find that student thinking is more complex than the social construction suggests because regardless of demographic background or cultural ties, it will have similar responses across all domains. Previous literature suggests that thinking is learning, but when considered in the moment of the thought, learning is the by-product of the thinking, whether from a metacognitive perspective or learning perspective (Sawhney and Bansal, 2015).

The argument for awareness in the moment is hindered by the lack of literature on gaps in our thinking due to the notion of non-linear thought processing and creativity being ignored in this context (Hayes, 2015; Kallio, Virta, and Kallio, 2018). This is due to the impact that educational modelling, supported by social development models have had on the research (Dunn, et al., 2010).

The application of knowledge, according to the major learning theories, seen in the literature review (chapter 1) is seen as more important than the study of awareness in the moment in the context of academia (Bodrova & Leong (2001). From a metacognitive perspective, Cleary, et al., (2012) comment that with awareness comes a higher level of thinking where the individual recognises their awareness and seeks to repeat the action in question in order to synthesise the thought process. Dennett (2017) sees this as a powerful leap from prior theory where building upon thinking as a separate construct is the next logical step. However, it is an aim of the current study to test this from the perspective of Cognitive Intentions and feedback, as it is hypothesised that Dennett’s (2017) perspective is only true after an individual is fed back their Thinking Style.

To enable an awareness of thinking in the moment, Bernstein, et al.,(2015) determined that one must leave the social constructs and social context behind, from where it was once centred upon development, the thinking process then moves to the present context of ‘action’. Both past and future thinking in terms of development are removed from the process of awareness and are replaced with instantaneous thinking that leads to awareness (Kuhn, Ramsey, and Arvidsson, 2015). However, to arrive at the awareness of this happening in the moment means understanding the presence of different variables in the process (Cognitive Intentions) where individuals are not necessarily conditioned to acknowledge this awareness. The social construction models presented by Piaget and Vygotsky convolute awareness from an adult perspective. Lourenço (2016) comments thinking does not need to be stage based or predicated upon stages being in place to develop beyond the initial thought. This was demonstrated in the Discussion section of study 3 where the ‘Developmental Onion’ was introduced.

The adult thinker has the power to change the process of thinking in the moment because of the level of his or her awareness (Kuhn, et al., 2015). However, it is the measure of this awareness that remains incomplete, and what this study aims to address. Further to this, as mentioned in the previous study, dependent upon one’s level of awareness (TQ score), a different measure is possible, which was not addressed by Kuhn, et al. (2015).

Kegan (2003) sees how one can, in his or her awareness of how they think, also create new channels of thought processes where they control the variables and free flow of thoughts as these build in a non-linear fashion. From a Cognitive Intention perspective, it is this notion of choice that can be determined as per studies 1, 2 and 3 above, and is the main objective of the current study, as the previous two studies suggested Kegan missed the mark due to the individual’s lack of metacognitive awareness. These ideas will be investigated in the final study (5) that uses qualitative methods to explore these quantitative results.


From study 3, it was hypothesised that the measure of the difference between the paired Cognitive Intentions could be interpreted as the gap in a participant’s self-awareness and choice. From the literature reviewed in the current study, a question emerged that built upon the previous studies:

To what extent are people aware of their construction of their cognitive intention in the moment?

Taking into account the findings of studies 2 and 3 as support for the measure of awareness of our constructed intention in the moment, the purpose of the current study was to determine to what extent each participant had an awareness of their individual Cognitive Intentions (such as ‘Internal’ and ‘External’) as these formed the basis for how student thinking was deconstructed in the first two studies, and it was important to determine if the theoretical hypothesis continued.

Research Design

The current study adopted a quantitative methodological approach as the data gathered were via two questionnaires. The second profile used was the Identity Compass, and as such, the research design and methodology for the current study were identical to the first three studies in this thesis. As this was also a within-participants design, it was imperative that the participants undertook both questionnaires of study 4.

In the current study, it was important to use the research methods most suited to the types of questions being asked within the constructed questionnaire (Tashakkori and Teddlie, 2003). As mentioned in the Methodology chapter (2), the current study was post-positivist. This suggested that although ‘things’ might exist independently from our knowledge of them, they can only be measured imperfectly (Fleetwood, 2005; Ponterotto, 2005) and inconclusively (Madill, Jordan and Shirley, 2000; Kwan and Tsang, 2001; Kemp, 2005). This often leads researchers to suggest that post-positivist research can descend into relativism, however, the current study ensured those standards called by Patton (2002, p.544) ‘traditional science research criteria’. These are: internal validity, external validity, reliability and objectivity (Guba and Lincoln, 1994).

In the first questionnaire of the current study, the participant was given a definition of 13 Cognitive Intentions, e.g. ‘Towards’, and then asked to what extent they thought their thinking utilised these CI’s in context using a sliding scale indicator. An example of the CI definition and scale can be seen in Figure 6.10. For the full set of questions, see Appendix 9. This gave a self-report score, from which a comparison was made, and a level of awareness of utility was inferred.

Figure 6.1: Example Question 1 of Study 4

What might not be evident to the reader, however, and what was important to understand from a Methodological and Results perspective was that as the participant considered the question behind the definition, they would undertake a self-derivational search (Vaknin, 2008, p623) which would include their ability to do ‘Sameness’ and ‘Difference’ to determine how ‘Towards’ their thinking and behaving was. In other words, if they utilised the ‘Sameness’ Cognitive Intention, this would impact their score for ‘Towards’. If they utilised ‘Difference’, this would impact their score differently. This was derived from the results of study 3 where Table 5.24 demonstrated five dimensions, the first of which positively impacted the TQ score, and thus the participants’ awareness, but dimension 3 negatively impacted the TQ score.

This suggested that by virtue of asking the questions in the way they were written, the participant was being introduced to the individual facets of their thinking construction, which was in itself, a part of their development process. The results would, therefore, be a statistical measure of a participant’s construction of self, thus further substantiating the theoretical underpinnings of Constructed Development.


Questionnaire 1 of the current study was the self-report questionnaire and it attracted 76 volunteers in total, taken from Coventry University and a specialist online group ( Of the 76 participants, 33 were male and 43 were female. Participants’ ages ranged from 24 to 67. The majority of the 76 were white British. Of the 76, fifty-five participants went on to complete the second phase questionnaire (Identity Compass), discussed in the next section. The reason for 21 participants declining to continue the research was unknown.

A justification for selecting the participants from the online LinkedIn group in the current study was that the use of meta-programmes was foundational in both the Identity Compass tool, and the measure of awareness as part of the objectives. Although not essential, a certain level of meta-programme knowledge was preferable as it was demonstrated in the literature review that meta-programmes had gone through a metamorphosis based on a new and more developed understanding of their impact on an individual’s thinking construction. By virtue of this fact, it was preferable for the participants of the current study to have an understanding of what meta-programmes were in order for the first questionnaire to have the necessary impact on their thinking awareness, hence the specialist LinkedIn group.

This existing awareness of the participants would translate to a more nuanced awareness of how they utilised the 13 Cognitive Intentions as described in the questionnaire.


The individual Cognitive Intentions used in the current study are listed in Table 6.25. Each was chosen due to its disruptive nature in an individual’s thinking. In other words, the ability to influence an individual to perform their opposite CI was quite profound and was investigated as part of this larger study. A participant’s capacity to utilise and perform any one on the list is potentially developmental according to the factor analysis of study 3 (Table 5.24).  For example, motivation is about ‘Towards’ and ‘Away From’, which is known to influence one’s intention. It was important to question the participants on these two CI’s to determine if they were aware of their direction of intention and attitude to risk. Intention was also within ‘Future’. According to the factor analysis in study 3, it was the most accessible Cognitive Intention as it appeared first in factor 1.

Table 6.1: List of Cognitive Intention Questions

Away From2

The second part of the current study utilised the Identity Compass profile tool as per studies 1, 2 and 3 and as such, was identical to the measures within.


Inter-Class Correlation is used when two different raters are used. In the current study, these were (1), each participant and (2) the Identity Compass profile tool. The raters were, in effect, rating their own opinion of their use of the Cognitive Intentions, which was the objective of the current study. The ICC should be higher than .70 for good interrater reliability (i.e. they mostly agreed in their evaluations). However, the current data displayed this for ‘Details’ and the TQ score only. As the TQ was the scaled output of all dimensions, it could be concluded that over all they did agree. However, they did not agree on specific dimensions (except for Details. See Table 5.11). 

According to Table 6.26, the Pearson correlation coefficients, the measure of strength of relationship between two variables, between pairs of cognitive intentions measured subjectively (participants) and objectively (Identity Compass) were positive (p < .05), except for Observer, which was nonsignificant. Therefore, participants overall tended to agree with the objective measurement. The highest proportion of shared variance (R2) among the subjective and objective measurement was the Cognitive Intention: ‘Abstract’. The overall TQ scores correlated positively, sharing 54.76% of the variance.

On the other hand, paired samples t-test on all thirteen intentions, as well as the overall TQ score, revealed significant differences on subjective and objective measurements for all intentions (p < .05), except for Own, Observer and Internal. The difference between the average TQ scores was also significant. Overall, the scores were higher on subjective than on objective measurement.

Table 6.2: Descriptive characteristics of CI’s on subjective/objective measurements

The largest differences were on CI’s ‘Global’, ‘Sameness’ and ‘Towards’. The difference between the two TQ scores was minor, compared to the differences on cognitive intentions, however, the TQ had a smaller scale range. Out of 55 participants, as per Table 6.27, the mean of the self-report scores for the participants’ TQ was 3.12, and the mean for their IC report was 3.25, demonstrating that on average, the participants under-estimated their level of self-awareness based on Cognitive Intention use.

The range of this difference was from 0.8 to -0.37, with only four participants [4/54] achieving a match (to two decimal places) between their self-report and IC TQ scores. Twenty-two (22) further participants achieved a self-report TQ score within 0.1 of their actual score, either positive or negative.

Table 6.3: TQ vs Self-Report scores

Table 6.4: Results of paired samples t-tests for subjectively/objectively measured CI’s

The difference between a positive score and a negative score was an important differentiator as 12 participants scored negatively, (see Figure 6.11) which implied they over-estimated their self-awareness based on Cognitive Intention use. In other words, their scores for their self-report TQ were higher than their actual IC TQ score. The importance of this finding was that other profile tools do not differentiate between perceived levels of psychometrics and actual levels of psychometrics, and do not offer a choice of response that would facilitate such a differentiation. These factors will be addressed in the discussion.

Figure 6.2: TQ score versus Self-Report Score



An initial investigation of the results demonstrated that given a description of a cognitive heuristic such as ‘Abstract’, it would appear that the participants (n = 54) were not aware of how they utilised this, or the other 12 Cognitive Intentions as described, and were thus not aware of any prevailing Thinking Style. An interesting common thread in the data was that 39 participants predicted their use of their Cognitive Intentions to be much lower than their actual scores. Twelve assumed their self-awareness was higher than it was. Four participants matched their self-report score with their TQ score within two decimal places.

The results of the current study suggested that individuals were not aware of how their thinking was deconstructed when using the Cognitive Intentions as described. This remained true even when given a definition of a number of CI’s and asked to rate their own use of each. Their awareness was not necessarily so far away as to be deemed a cognitive issue, with a Pearson correlation of .001 between their TQ and self-report TQ score. This was in line with findings from Hahn, Judd, Hirsh and Blair (2013) who used four experiments to determine that participants were surprisingly accurate when predicting their results on an Implicit Association Test. However, the degree to which awareness was lacking matched the findings of a study on metacognition by Fitzgerald, Arvaneh & Dockree, (2017) where an individual’s self-report score versus online score for a daily functioning test did not correlate (Plomin, 2018).

Pronin (2008) also offered a suggestion for how an individual might objectively assess more accurately another’s metacognitive performance, due to what he called ‘extrospection’, which was looking outwards to observable behaviour. Thus, if we looked beyond the metacognitive labels and chose a Constructed Development perspective, once one were aware of their own Thinking Style using Cognitive Intentions as shortcuts, it would be possible to observe the same Thinking Style in others based on language use, as per Cook-Greuter’s (2013) research in the literature review, who said that how we represent our world was evident in our language. Thus, the predictive utility of understanding Cognitive Intentions and their combinations allows for a behavioural prediction not previously seen in other profile tools or personality tests. This point warrants further study.

Ranked Awareness

The Cognitive Intention with the greatest number of accurate predictions, implying it was the CI with the greatest participant awareness was ‘Internal’. It was hypothesised that it was the difference that made the difference, and Table 6.29 illustrates those Cognitive Intentions that were least (Global) and most (Internal) accurate in the participants’ predictions. This simplistic ranking was validated by the ICC scores in the results section (see Table 5.24) which showed that participants were aware of almost all CI usage except Observer and Global.

With reference to Table 5.24, the Factor Analysis from study 3 suggested that the Cognitive Intentions tend to happen together. In other words, if one were to answer a certain way for ‘Internal’, then they are likely to answer in a similar and predictable way to ‘External’. Therefore, the current study was simply asking: was the participant aware they were using the CI’s? This meant that dimension 1 of the factor analysis in study 3 (Table 4.18) suggested that all participants utilise those Cognitive Intentions, and the current study demonstrated they do not necessarily know they use them.

Table 6.5: Ranked Cognitive Intention Awareness

Away From161

The overall TQ scores correlated positively, sharing 54.76% of the variance. This demonstrated a certain level of awareness. The remaining variability might be explained by other factors not measured in the current study, such as alternate bias, lack of awareness of ‘personality’, problems with measurement, random answering, and so on.

It was not apparent if 4 participants achieving precise TQ scores for their IC and self-report suggested those three were more self-aware than any other participant. However, the thrust of the hypothesis suggested that a participant who scored the same on both outputs was highly flexible and adaptive in their awareness of self, regardless of their capacity to respond differently in the moment. This could be developed further in a qualitative study.

The fact that ‘Internal’ was the CI most easy recognised as a heuristic suggested that there was a predominance for thinking about oneself in the participant group. This demonstrated that individuals knew their own mind, as per the study by Hahn, Judd, Hirsh and Blair (2013). This was not necessarily the same as being self-aware or able to choose their response in the moment, however it did suggest a certain awareness for thinking about their thinking in context. This is discussed next.

Metacognition Perspective

It was discussed in the literature review (chapter 1) that metacognition has a number of definitions, including the capacity for an individual to understand and control their learning environment (Schraw, et al. 1995). It was also mentioned that metacognition promotes self-monitoring of one’s cognitive processes (Flavell, 1976). From the findings of the current study, it was evident that an individual’s level of self-awareness was a contributory factor to one’s capacity to understand their self-monitoring in context, and thus a student was no more capable of controlling their environment than a non-student. This was due, in part to the way in which a post-graduate student constructs their Thinking Style, as seen in study 2. Critical thinking was pushed as an important facet of student thinking (Flavell, 1979), however, an individual’s ability to analyse arguments would be directly impacted by their level of self-awareness (Ennis, 1985; Facione, 1990; Halpern, 1998; Paul, 1992). For example, if one were only capable of using the CI ‘Polar’ as a heuristic, then their initial reaction to a request would be to refuse to do it. This obviously limits their capacity to respond differently in the moment.

By the same token, another facet of metacognition that would be impacted would be an individual’s capacity to produce a logical conclusion to an argument (Dwyer, 2017; Dwyer et al., 2017; Dwyer, Hogan & Stewart, 2014). As hypothesised in studies 1 and 2, one’s level of self-awareness will influence how deeply one is able to create and recognise the relationships between Cognitive Intention pairs, and then recognise the impact these unconscious intentions have on one’s Thinking Style. In other words, how logical one can be will be determined more by how ‘Options/Procedures’ one was, rather than how high one’s IQ might be. An interesting study might be to discern if individuals with verified high IQ’s also have high levels of self-awareness. From the results of the current study, where ‘Observer’ was measured, the outcome seen in Table 6.29 was that ‘Observer’ was low on the list of awareness and thus participants were less aware they were using this in their Thinking Style. ‘Observer’ was about taking a dispassionate step back and assessing the elements of a situation as close to the moment as possible. If the current findings demonstrated this was out of awareness, then the metacognitive factor that discussed this could be as manifest as the literature suggests for adults.

Again, within an adult thinker context, conditional knowledge is concerned with why and when to use a strategy. With Cognitive Intentions used as unconscious shortcuts, the conscious element of conditional knowledge was removed, and as a consequence, the act of using an unconscious strategy becomes the strategy that was each Cognitive Intention. That is to say, CI’s could be considered unconscious conditional knowledge. Flavell (1979) said that there was ‘too little’ cognitive monitoring for adults. He also suggested a role for cognitive monitoring in teaching adults how to “make wise and thoughtful life decisions” as well as “comprehend and learn better in formal education” (1979, p. 910). This principle will be investigated in the next study, which will be a qualitative investigation of the findings of the current study.

The data in the current study showed that general intelligence (g) was not necessarily a factor in how self-aware an individual was. This correlated with the findings of Schraw, Horn, et al., (1995) who reported that metacognition does not appear to be related strongly to measures of intellectual ability. Further to this, according to Bolton & Hattie, (2017), time was a more accurate predictor of variability of academic achievement than intelligence and IQ.

Consequently, the output of the Thinking Quotient was not correlated with IQ and should not be considered a measure of intellect, per se. However, the output of study 3 (chapter 5) demonstrated that there are different Thinking Styles based on different combinations of Cognitive Intention awareness which could be misconceived as stages or levels of thinking. This was introduced in study 3 and will be discussed further in the Stage Development section below.

Some studies have utilised subjective self-reports via interview to determine if participants were aware in the moment of certain stimuli (Juruena et al., 2010; Killgore & Yurgelun-Todd, 2004; Whalen et al., 2004). However, these relied on the participant’s memory and were thus questionable for their reliability when establishing awareness. Instead, it is arguable that awareness should be measured indirectly, rather than directly, as per the current study. For example, instead of asking a question about awareness of ‘Internal’ directly, one could ask a question that infers ‘Internal’ and elicits a response that exposes the participant’s lack of awareness of ‘Internal’ to tease out their actual unconscious usage. This could be further investigated later with the creation of a new profile tool.

The question of metacomponents can be raised at this point. According to Sternberg (1986 PAGE XXX), metacomponents are responsible for: “figuring out how to do a particular task or set of tasks, and then making sure that the task or set of tasks is done correctly“.  (could be p608)

From Table 6.29, it can be seen that ‘Concrete’ was third from the bottom of the ranked list, which suggested that in the context of the current study, the participants were less aware of their need for concrete evidence (who, where, why, how etc.) than 9 other CI’s, and as such, unable to determine their usage of this heuristic. This tentatively contradicted Sternberg’s ideas about procedural undertakings specifically. Depending on one’s level of self-awareness, their capacity to plan, evaluate and monitor problem-solving activities (Sternberg, 1986) were different at each TQ level. This supported the principle that Constructed Development Theory is useful in a specific domain.

Metacognitive regulation describes how learners monitor and control their cognitive processes. Although Nelson and Naren’s (1994) theory is aimed at school children and academic tasks, their ideas about metalevels and object levels being related hierarchically, and that parallel processing occurs between levels supports Constructed Development Theory. From an adult perspective, at the object level for example, cognitive strategies are used to help the individual achieve a particular goal. It would be reasonable to associate this thinking with Cognitive Intentions (heuristics) such as ‘Towards’, ‘Sameness’, ‘Procedures’ and so on. At the object level, however, the current study has shed some light on an individual’s capacity to think about their thinking: they generally lacked the control processes of Nelson and Narem’s (1990) theory at the lower levels and were thus unable to change their resultant behaviour even with monitored feedback. This was extrapolated from the current data and needs to be tested in a qualitative environment for greater clarity.

Stage Development Perspective

As discussed and defined in the literature review, the concept of stages was somewhat contentious. Research on the fluidity of movement between stages could focus on either transformation or transition. ‘Transition’ was the movement from one stage to another, which can be described in small steps. These small steps were evidenced in the minor changes in Cognitive Intention scores, and resultant Thinking Style of the individual according to the Thinking Quotient scale.

Commons, et al., (1999) pointed out in the literature review that where one was able to step out of their own perspective and adopt a new perspective on a problem, he called decentration. Hindsight offered a perspective on development where Commons and Bresette (2006) framed the achievements of previous innovators as easier than expected due to the simple fact that the present is embedded in the ‘now’ and as such, everything has taken place since a particular innovation. These events were not available to the innovator at the time of conception or discovery, and any sense-making surrounding them was constructed wholly from a position of ‘now’. This created a different lens through which to view the innovation or discovery (Commons & Bresette, 2006). This translated to thinking and awareness in a predictive fashion in that the earlier one was capable of stepping out of their own perspective in order to predict the outcome, the higher their potential Dynamic Intelligence (Figure 6.14).

Figure 6.3: The Dynamic Intelligence Awareness Model

Taking into account the 55 scores and self-report scores for the Thinking Quotient scale, it was possible to map out the transition process (from one level to the next) using an individual’s level of awareness of their Cognitive Intention use. In other words, there was no stage of thinking per se, but there was a measurable journey/movement from one level of awareness to the next on the TQ scale. This propelled Constructed Development Theory beyond the ideas of stage transition by offering a method of vertical growth by the manipulation of an individual’s level of awareness of their CI choices in the moment.

It could also be described as a qualitative difference between the scores, as per Loevinger’s perspective (1979) albeit with a quantitative scale (TQ). For example, the results demonstrated that a TQ score of 2.5 was indicative of a lesser capacity to choose between the CI pairs than a score of TQ4, and thus the individual had fewer options in behavioural choices. As suggested in chapter 5, should stages not exist, then the process of transition from one Thinking Style to the next would look like Figure 6.15.

In essence, Figure 6.15 illustrates the idea that developmental stages are not essential. They are simply well-rehearsed and reinforced patterns of thinking in response to the most regularly encountered stimuli in the most contiguous of contexts. This is a major contribution to the field of stage development.

As mentioned, each ring of the onion is an Intention. Each bubble a focus on a specific awareness of one Intention. As such, in order to facilitate a vertical move, the four pillars of Constructed Development offered a potential framework for stage transition and movement in a way that did not require a mathematical formula such as the Model of Hierarchical Complexity by Commons & Richards, (1984a).

Figure 6.4: The Constructed Developmental Onion

These four pillars were suggested in the literature review as Intention, Awareness, Choice and Response. By way of an explanation, Figure 6.15 shows an individual’s overall development in blue, and each Cognitive Intention in a different colour. At a certain stage in one’s life, one is required to focus on and thus develop a heuristic that offers a shortcut for future use in one’s thinking. This could also be considered a cognitive bias. Once we have mastered this Cognitive Intention, it becomes part of our over-all development and available to us at a later stage. In order to grow our thinking, the opposite CI needs to be focused on (as demonstrated in study 3). Once the opposite CI is mastered, it then becomes a ring on one’s development onion. Should we need it again, it does not need to be relearned, only revisited, hence the second turquoise ring at a greater circumference in Figure 6.15. As was mentioned in the previous chapter, this is akin to Siegler’s (1996) overlapping waves theory.

Another stage development perspective mentioned in the literature review was that of Vygotsky (1978), who introduced the concept of the ‘Zone of Proximal Development’ (ZPD). He defined this as the ability of the child to learn only when interacting and cooperating with people in their environment in order to eventually internalise the learning processes. They then become part of the child’s independent developmental achievement (Vygotsky, 1978. p90).  However, the manner in which the individual was offered growth becomes important. Vygotsky focused on tasks and processes with children’s learning, whereas adults might question the facets of their thinking using Cognitive Intentions. By questioning the dialectic arguments within our thinking structure, we move beyond the process elements of proximal development and into the philosophical arena where a more dynamic cognitive development is realised. It is therefore argued that an extension to Vygotsky’s (1978) ZPD is one that offers a Zone of Dynamic Development for adult thinking, which focuses on what is not yet seen by the individual and thus opens up the Cognitive Intention awareness within their Thinking Style. See Figure 6.16. The image shows those CI’s that were either within awareness or used readily, those that require thought in order to propel the thinker to the Zone of Dynamic Development, and those that were out of reach, namely those in dimensions 4 and 5 of the factor analysis, as demonstrated in studies 2 and 3.

By combining the principles of the Dynamic Intelligence Awareness Model (Figure 6.12) and the Constructed Developmental Onion (Figure 6.13), the capacity and capability of an individual is stretched with the utilisation of Cognitive Intentions into the Zone of Dynamic Development.

Figure 6.5: The Zone of Dynamic Development

This is a major differentiator from Vygotsky’s theory (ZPD), as it extends his principles into the adult arena. The closer an adult is to choosing their behaviour in the moment, the smaller their Zone of Dynamic Development (see Figure 6.12). Conversely, the less aware they are, the greater their ZDD. In essence, Vygotsky’s ZPD is horizontal growth, whereas the ZDD is vertical growth.

Finally, the results demonstrated that when individuals are presented with a description of some facets of their thinking, they can predict their use of some Cognitive Intentions to a satisfactory level of accuracy using an online questionnaire. This begged the question: could participants recognise their Thinking Styles in conversation? This could be tested in a final study which will need to be a qualitative interview methodology to tease out the lived experiences of the interviewees. Figure 6.15 illustrates the actual movement between the self-report TQ scores and the IC TQ score. The arrows in black represent those participants who underestimated their thinking: in red, those who over-estimated their thinking and the ones in green were those who matched both SR and IC TQ scores.

Figure 6.6: TQ movement between SR and IC output


The limitations of the study were related to the design and the sampling procedure. As the questionnaire was designed by the researcher, the limitations here were replicas of those in study 3, such as reliance on self-report data (Evans et al, 2009); a reliance on self-report assessments of participation (Simpson et al., 2012; Staton-Tindall et al., 2007); a lack of control groups; the selection of already motivated participants (Harkins et al., 2011); and small samples (Vallentine et al., 2010). The sampling procedure was potentially limiting in that an online group of volunteers were recruited to participate, of whom some had experience of Cognitive Intentions. The potential for skewed data was addressed in the Discussion section. Ethnicity nor sex were considered a limiting factor.

Summary of Study 4

What was apparent from the current study was the inter-relatedness of the Cognitive Intentions, and the depth of this relating in the minds of the participants. Although the self-report questionnaire might have asked the participant about ‘Internal’, their answer was dependent upon their ability to be aware of ‘Sameness’ (for example) in their Thinking Style. Exposure to this Cognitive Intention relationship thus became part of their development. This was a way of introducing them to their growth process and warrants further qualitative study to tease out the depth of their awareness.

The results of study 4 demonstrated that participants across the board were less self-aware than originally anticipated. However, self-awareness was prevalent across all levels of the Thinking Quotient, which contradicted some complexity psychologists, such as Kegan and Laske. This contradiction is an important finding and thus warrants further study in a qualitative environment. Therefore, a final study was necessary to determine if it were possible to qualitatively validate the findings of the previous four quantitative studies by adding the lived experience of the participants to the quantitative data, with the aim of applying experiential examples of thinking and behaving in accordance with the hypotheses in the thesis.

This informed the questions to be used in the next study so that the levels of intention, awareness, choice and response between the specific Cognitive Intentions were uncovered in an interview format.

Finally, in his book “Being Aware of Being Aware”, Spira (2017 PAGE XXX) had this to say about self-awareness:

Although knowing or being aware is not itself an objective experience, in the sense that a thought, feeling, sensation or perception is an objective experience, nevertheless we are aware that we are aware. Therefore, although knowing or being aware has no objective qualities, it is at the same time known.
It is in this context that I refer to the ‘experience’ of knowing or being aware. However, in order to distinguish knowing or being aware from all objective knowledge and experience, it is referred to as the non-objective experience of knowing or being aware.
Knowing or being aware is not itself an objective experience, but without it there could be no experience. It is that which makes experience possible and yet is not itself an experience

The current study had to some degree offered a quantitative refutation for this perspective in that the themes demonstrated that being aware of one’s awareness (meta-aware) had objective qualities in that if we knew the construction of our thinking (using CI’s), one can objectively measure our awareness, which then allows us to act on the awareness of this awareness. This was significant as it differentiated the findings here for Constructed Development Theory from the standard stage development tests (e.g. Loevinger’s 1979 Sentence Completion Test) as well as the industry-standard psychometrics discussed in chapter 2. The final study will discover if this was accurate as it sought to validate the data via the lived experiences of a number of participants to determine how well their self-awareness served them and how much it limited them, thus exploring the dialectic.