Chapter 8

General Discussion

“In the natural sciences, each succeeding generation stands on the shoulders of those who have gone before, but in the social sciences, each generation steps on the face of its predecessors” (Zeaman, 1959).



The purpose of the five studies that constitute this thesis was to advance the understanding of the connections between our thinking and behaving from a self-awareness perspective, with a view to determining whether this dynamic relationship is derived from intention, awareness and choice, and is then measurable and predictable. A variety of measures were applied to holistically address the research question. Study 1 aimed to test the methodology to ensure it was an appropriate way to address the deconstruction of student thinking. Study 2 sought to replicate this methodology on a larger number of post-graduate students. In this second study, the links between Cognitive Intentions and stage development were established. Although the data were non-significant, there emerged an academic Thinking Style, as well as a benchmark tool for the Identity Compass profile tool (the Thinking Quotient). The third study sought to support the findings of the second study but in a larger dataset acting as a control group. Figure 5.6 illustrated the existence of Thinking Styles as well as the various levels within the Thinking Quotient scale. Quantitatively speaking, the principles of Constructed Development were supported. The fourth study was designed to test the facets of thinking construction on participants from an awareness perspective. The results showed that 55 participants had relative awareness of their Thinking Style, so it was necessary to determine to what extent they were in awareness in the moment. Finally, the fifth study aimed to qualitatively connect the previous four studies’ quantitative findings together in the lived experiences of ten volunteer interviewees.

This chapter will integrate the findings of the above five studies contained in the thesis, discuss their implications and identify areas that refute or support the existence of the theory of Constructed Development and offer areas requiring further research. The aim was to determine initially if there exists a number of heuristics so far missed in metacognition, stage development and constructivism that allows for the deconstruction of our thinking sufficient to provide evidence for habituated styles based on the combination of those heuristics, now called Cognitive Intentions. This allowed the researcher to advance the understanding of the links between how, initially a post-graduate student thinks and the resultant behaviour in context, with regard to their level of awareness of each stage of the process. Each of the five studies reported in chapters 3 through 7 contributed a confirmatory finding that supports the hypotheses. Collectively, the five studies support positive links between the use of ‘Cognitive Intentions’ as a descriptive term, the constructivist approach to thinking in post-graduate students and the stages of adult development from a stage transition perspective. Both can be aligned with the use, consciously and unconsciously, of Cognitive Intentions, leading to a relative choice and response, dependent upon an individual’s level of self-awareness.

Due to the impact of the findings from study 2, which led to the methodologies of the second and third studies, the question morphed from: how does the thinking of post graduate students map across to the Identity Compass profile tool? To: does Dynamic Intelligence exist as a conceptual measure of self-awareness in the moment?  And eventually, with the introduction of the higher-level theory, the question is now: Does Constructed Development exist as a conceptual measure of Dynamic Intelligence in the moment?

The following discussion presents the key findings of these five studies, their theoretical implications, practical interventions, and proposes avenues for future research.

Main Findings

The findings of this Thesis evolved throughout the studies to include and incorporate the thinking behind self-awareness from a number of angles. What began as the deconstruction of post-graduate thinking using Meta-Programmes ended with a framework for thinking construction based on the lived experiences of ten interviewees. The objectives throughout the thesis flowed with each new hypothesis discovered within each study. Beginning with the methodological approach of study 1, and leading to the interviews in study 5, the Objectives flowed in this manner:

  1. To determine if there are Meta-Programmes common to all post-graduate students.
  2. To determine if a specific combination of MP’s creates an academic thinking style.
  3. To create a benchmarking score to normalise the Identity Compass output for ease of comparison to other profiles.
  4. Changed Meta-Programmes to Cognitive Intentions (TQ)
  5. To determine if there are Cognitive Intentions common to 8,200 profiles
  6. To determine if the Thinking Quotient scale is valid for 8,200 profiles as it was for 177
  7. To determine to what extent participants are aware of their use of Cognitive Intentions in their thinking style
  8. To determine to what extent participants understand their use of Cognitive Intentions in their own thinking style
  9. Constructed Development is measurable by an individual’s Dynamic Intelligence (via the TQ)

The objectives and the aims helped to formulate the main hypotheses:

  • Certain Cognitive Intentions have more of an effect on the profile than others and thus might be classed as “driver programmes”.
  • The benchmark tool will determine different levels of self-awareness based on the different combinations of Cognitive Intentions.
  • Kegan’s Levels of Adult Development can be aligned to the benchmark output scale.
  • Individuals are not aware of their use of Cognitive Intentions in context
  • Each level of the Thinking Quotient has a unique combination of Cognitive Intentions which equates to different Thinking Styles
  • Individuals are not aware of their Thinking Style using CI combinations
  • Thinking Styles, and thus behaviour, can be influenced by polar CI intervention
  • Individuals are not aware of their self-awareness (meta-awareness)

The exploratory study and study 2 demonstrated that a subset of dimensions within the 50 Cognitive Intentions exists, as per objective 3, specific to post-graduate student thinking. However, the overall regression model was non-significant and none of the five factors predicted the outcome variable TQ. The average TQ score for the students was 3.19. This is marginally higher than the general population of 3.12, which, if correlated with Kegan’s levels of adult development, the average post-graduate student has a measure of thinking construction marginally higher than the average population. This suggests that in order to be a post-graduate student, one might need to think in a style pursuant to academic achievement, shown in the first dimension of Table 4.14.

Study 3 extended this principle and allowed the theory to move beyond post-graduate students as the data for Thinking Styles. Instead, it focused on a larger dataset from the Identity Compass profile tool (n=8,243) and utilised the same statistical measures as per studies 1 and 2. This time the data were highly significant and the subset of latent dimensions as per objective 3 was supported.  All five cognitive factors predicted the TQ at 1% or 3% level of statistical significance. This was a very important discovery from a Constructed Development perspective.

Study 4’s findings focused on the inter-class correlational aspects of self-report versus profile report of the same facets of thinking. The two raters were (1) each participant and (2) the Identity Compass profile tool. Out of 54 participants, 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, which supported the hypothesis that participants are not aware of their level of awareness, nor their use of Cognitive Intentions. Twelve participants over-estimated their self-awareness based on Cognitive Intention use.

Finally, the qualitative findings from Study 5 showed five overarching themes emerged from the data, and twenty sub-themes as derived from the questions in study 4. The themes mirror the suggestion in the data that the participants do utilise Cognitive Intentions in their thinking, however, they are not aware of their construction of self, using them. These themes allowed the interviewees to establish how and why they constructed their Thinking Styles in the way that they did, as well as the level of awareness of this construction. The output of the awareness factor demonstrated that an interviewee at each level of the TQ is capable of being aware of their habituated patterns. However, the lower level scorers were less able to make significant changes to their thinking and behaving even after feedback.

Introducing Constructed Development Theory

Essentially, all models are wrong; but some are useful –Box (1976)

Constructed Development Theory takes its name from its central premise: that self-awareness and cognitive growth are concepts that are constructed by the brain. The aim of this chapter is to introduce the Constructed Development Theory (CDT) as it emerged from the literature review and subsequent supporting data within this thesis. The aim of the theory is to develop perspicacity. The flow of the theory is thus:

Constructed Development Theory focuses on how human beings utilise shortcuts in their thinking in order to construct their Intention, Awareness, Choice and Response in the moment. The greater their awareness of their intention based on the use of fifty Cognitive Intentions, the greater their capacity to respond in the moment.

Dynamic Intelligence is the process by which we construct our thinking in the moment in order to determine the path from (unconscious) Intention to Awareness, then Choice and finally Response. The greater our awareness of our intention, the more choice we create in our responses in the moment, thus, the greater our Dynamic Intelligence.

The Thinking Quotient is the tool created to measure the relationship between the fifty Cognitive Intentions that are the building blocks of our Dynamic Intelligence. The score derived from this measure is one’s level of Dynamic Intelligence. This scale is the benchmark for one’s Constructed Development.

A graphical representation can be seen in Table 8.33 where it illustrates the level at which one is either aware or unaware of the fact that this construction occurs, which in turn affects one’s ability to construct. At the lower TQ levels, a complete lack of awareness of this construction lends itself to habituated responses without an acknowledged Intention, whereas the higher levels of awareness allow the individual to construct their response in the moment according to their immediate self-awareness.

Table 8.1: Constructed Development Grid

Cognitive Intentions serve as a means of constructing one’s own personal psychology as per schema presented by Kelly (2003) and Huang et al., (2014). Such a framework puts in place a blueprint for thinking, and how this determines what knowledge an individual has constructed about the world around them (Kelly, 2003). Constructed Development is such a blueprint.

Taken from the previous studies within this thesis, Dynamic Intelligence is a measure of our level of awareness of our construction of self that determines our choice of response in the moment. To meet the developmental criterion of an intelligence, a construct must have the potential to improve over time (Coté, Christopher, & Miners, 2006). As this study has determined that the natural way to measure Dynamic Intelligence is by Cognitive Intentions, then improvement over time is absolutely measurable.  This could be demonstrated further with a longitudinal study. By extension, the meaning we are measuring is not necessarily meaning-making, but unconscious Intention.

The basic propositions of Constructed Development Theory are the following:


Alignment of CI’s to Stages of Adult Development

In order to discuss the objectives above, it was necessary to understand how Cognitive Intentions fit into the development arena. A number of psychologists have undertaken this, such as Cook-Greuter, (1999); Linder-Pelz (2010), Loevinger (1976), Kegan (1994), Fowler (1981), Kohlberg (1969), Torbert (2004), Gebser (1985), Commons (1984), Piaget (1983), and if one is to understand the thinking of post-graduate students within an academic context, it would be beneficial to understand how to get to complexity from CI’s.

Whilst Laske (2009) differentiates between social-emotional complexity and cognitive complexity, Kegan (1982) does not, instead focusing on social-emotional complexity. Laske assumes that humans struggle with two contradictory tendencies continuously: the need to be autonomous and the need to belong to a group. Adults oscillate between the two, and it is this oscillation that defines their social-emotional life (Laske, 2008: p37).

Using Laske’s work, it would be reasonable to assume that Cognitive Intentions might be differentiated using the same criteria. The Cognitive Intentions can thus be sub-categorised into Social-Emotional and Cognitive types depending on the output of the individual programme (see Table 8.34). For example: if an individual is predominantly ‘Procedural’, this is an indication of how they make sense of their actions, and as sense-making is a cognitive attribute as per Laske’s, (2008) Cognitive Development Framework (CDF), it was a natural assumption to align Procedure with Cognitive complexity. According to the literature, the ‘opposite’ pattern of intention is ‘Options’ and would be considered an emotional response to a task, which is about meaning-making (Kegan, 1982). The same principle can be applied to the other 48 Cognitive Intentions in order to give a key to how we interpret our thinking in three potential ways: meaning-making; sense-making, and an over-all epistemic stance.

Table 8.34 illustrates the SE and C breakdown of Cognitive Intentions. The TQ scale is thus a measure of one’s epistemic stance. A basic notion is that from Laske’s CDF (2008), there are certain thinking capacities (in context) that are available to individuals at the higher levels of complex thinking that are not available to the lower level thinkers.

Table 8.2: Table of Cognitive Intentions broken down by SE or C Intention

Away FromConcrete
Caring OthersDetails
Caring SelfDifference
InfluenceLong Term
PeopleQ. Control
Short TermThings
Team PlayerTowards

From a complexity perspective, the statistical data results of study three (the five dimensions: see Table 8.35) essentially short-cut the CDF interview process, and eliminates the need for an interview/interviewer, a subsequent transcription of said interview, and then an interpretation of the results, all of which relies on a subjective intervention by a trained individual. By demonstrating the use of Cognitive Intentions unavailable to the participant, it is known which level of adult development they are not necessarily capable of attaining. An example would be where a participant has a very low score for ‘Abstract’ in comparison to ‘Concrete’, it can be evidenced (from the data) that the person is not sufficiently self-aware in their Thinking Style, and thus not Stage 4 (Laske, 2007) or above.

This removes any interviewer bias and allows the client to tell the interviewer how they think as well as their level of self-awareness to the extent that they know it about themselves, rather than have the interviewer tell them, as is common with profile tools. This runs counter-to the principles discussed in the Methodology (chapter 2) regarding the conventional wisdom for psychometric tools of this kind.

Table 8.3: Five dimensions of Cognitive Intentions – study 2

Cognitive intentions – study 2
AcademicSocialisedConsciousSelf-PerspectiveHigher Level
AchievementTeam PlayerQuality ControlOwnAbstract
ActivityCaring for OthersProceduresInternalVision
FutureCollectivistAway FromInfluenceOptions
Caring for SelfAffiliationThings Polar
Pre ActivePartnerPast Seeing
RealisationTrustfulReactive Listening
Difference Sceptic  
Concrete Short-term  
Observer Hearing  

It can be seen that the left side of Table 8.34 pertains to either an emotional or a social aspect of thinking (e.g. interactions with people are socially-based and affect emotions primarily; External thinking, in extremis, subsumes self in favour of the other person’s needs), including our ability to form relationships, consider our partner’s feelings and get our rules from an external source (Hall & Bodenhamer, 2006).

The Cognitive Intentions in Dimensions 4 and 5 in Table 8.35 are different in that they determine how we perceive information, process that information, consider our own perspective in a situation, and how, for example, we perceive a task whilst in a work context. The principle that Dynamic Intelligence determines a construction of intention in the moment is not in contradiction to the field of adult development, but that the field could be expanded to include an ‘and/both’ approach to determining an individual’s capacity and capability. With the fifty Cognitive Intentions divided by their social-emotional or cognitive intention, as per Table 8.34, it is now possible to align them with the output behaviours of Kegan’s and Laske’s individual stages of Adult Development.

Evidence of this can be determined from Laske’s definition of his Stage 2 mindset (ibid: p39) where he states that:

“People at S-2 can only hold a single perspective – their own – and this cognitive limitation necessarily leads them to act as they can be observed to do. Consult your resident teenager.”

From the literature on CI’s, it is apparent that an individual having the unconscious Cognitive Intention of ‘External’, ‘Partner’, and others is demonstrating what Laske says level 2 cannot: second-positioning, and thus the participant is not TQ2. However, as was mentioned, if they are not balanced in their Cognitive Intention pairs, they are also not TQ4.

Stage Development Perspective

An interesting perspective that emerged from the findings of studies 2 and 3 was that the Thinking Quotient might resemble a stage development interpretation of Constructed Development. If we were to take the TQ as a scale, the levels of self-awareness for post-graduate students might look like Figure 8.20.

However, as was emphasised in studies 2 and 3, this is not necessarily the case and the argument that supports this perspective is one of the negation of discrete levels as false classifications, in favour of a more dynamic measure in immediate time/context.  This is done with the foreknowledge that it might be a measure of an individual’s centre of gravity around which an individual’s thinking/responding (DI) coalesces.

Figure 8.1: The TQ Post-Graduate Student Awareness Grid

Fischer & Bidell, (2006) pointed out that it is not appropriate to assume people operate at one constant level, but instead they operate over a range of levels depending on context, domain, emotional state and more. The qualitative findings of study 5 support this perspective. Also, under conditions of stress or fatigue, an individual will regress in their developmental thinking, thus limiting their capacity to perform in the moment (Reams, 2014).

Scaffolded levels of performance require assistance from someone with more skill (as per Vygotsky’s ZPD (1978)) or a more complex strategy for thinking as per the ZDD model (Figure 8.27 below) and this sequence of attainment will vary according to many factors, one of which is the role of emotion in development (Fischer & Bidell, 2006). As argued in the section on Vygotsky in the literature review and in study 3, it is not simply a more emotionally-developed person that is required, but a more ‘dynamically intelligent other’ that can pull from their dynamic library of emotional responses built up over time and experience, to offer an alternate perspective on emotional scaffolding that ultimately moves through emotion in to cognition in order to be a more Dynamically Intelligent thinker. From this perspective, Emotional Intelligence could be considered a facet of Dynamic Intelligence, which has important implications for the field once it is understood how the insertion of the four pillars of Constructed Development impact the thinking behind EI and thus change its emphasis and outcome going forward.

On the current Thinking Quotient scale, it was demonstrated how a less-balanced approach to socialised Cognitive Intentions such as External, Partner, Affiliation and People will produce an alignment with Kegan’s stage 3 ‘Socialised Mind’ where one is more concerned with the social aspects of their thinking. This offers a real understanding of their lack of self-awareness due to their externalised locus of evaluation and as such, the capacity to move away from the inference of a stage would benefit this individual’s construction of self. With this in mind, a new scale that offers a definition of CI-balance rather than social-emotional and cognitive complexity could be a more useful indicator of Dynamic Intelligence.

Thinking Styles

Following on from the literature review where it stated that there is no empirical evidence to suggest learning styles exist (Lilienfeld et al., 2010; Pashler et al., 2009; Willingham, 2009), and Riener and Willingham (2010) stated: “students may have preferences about how to learn, but no evidence suggests that catering to those preferences will lead to better learning” (p. 35), it is evident from the findings of the five studies within this thesis that previous discussions on learning styles were missing the potential for habituated patterns of thinking construction, that might lead to a student’s preferred way of learning. This was shown in study 2 where a post-graduate student with a bias for the ‘Procedures’ CI had a very different approach to essay completion than a student with an ‘Options’ bias. A student with ‘Global’ higher than ‘Detail’ will have a different construction of their thinking that would lead potentially to a much larger frame when writing an essay. Had those psychologists exposure to the potential for a more constructed development, there might have emerged a bridge between Constructivism and Constructionism.

Essentially, our thinking is constructed in the moment based on the habituated and unconscious use of Cognitive Intentions which combine to form a specific style of thinking for that individual. This style also manifests as a behavioural response in the moment, with or without awareness. Study 3 supported this perspective with the factor analysis on a large dataset and the subsequent automorphic graph illustrated the principle (Chapter 5, Figure 5.5). Study 5 supported study 3’s findings in the lived experiences of the interviewees who demonstrated behaviours based on CI awareness.

Continuing the principles behind the findings of Daniels (2010) from the literature review on thinking patterns, the concept of Dynamic Intelligence is concerned with the combination of Cognitive Intentions and alignment to levels of adult development. This raises a number of important questions from an evidentiary perspective: (i) does one CI influence the other more significantly? (ii) If so, how does a combination of CI’s influence the thinking of the individual differently from an alternate combination? (iii) Is a Thinking Style indicative of a single level of capacity and capability as per Laske’s (2009) Cognitive Development Framework, or (iv) can a thinking style have multiple levels within? Conversely, (v) is it possible for a level of capacity and capability as depicted by the Thinking Quotient, to have different thinking styles within?

For now, it is sufficient to point to the concept of Thinking Styles as both levels and unique combinations of Cognitive Intentions that construct the individual’s thinking in the moment, allowing for a measure of awareness that leads to a choice of response.

Figure 8.21 illustrates the point that each level is defined by a different combination of Cognitive Intentions, and as such, there is no need for TQ3 to include and subsume TQ2’s Cognitive Intentions in the way one would expect developmental stages to do. The inference in the image is that in order to be a TQ4 thinker, one must begin with a different set of Cognitive Intentions that frame one’s thinking in the first instance. This does not mean that a person at TQ4 is not capable of matching the combination pattern of TQ3, only that those are not their natural drivers. The outcome, from a developmental perspective is that the TQ4 thinker is capable of matching the Thinking Style of the TQ3 thinker as they can choose which CI’s to utilise in the moment that replicates the level of balance in the TQ3 Thinking Style. However, the TQ3 thinker cannot match the TQ4 thinker’s Style because they lack the requisite choice in CI combinations.

Figure 8.2: An example of level-specific Thinking Styles by CI combination

With this concept in mind, the Thinking Style can be visualised as in Figure 8.21. This was seen in study 5 where the thinking and behavioural outcomes of the interviewees were matched to Kegan’s (1994) Levels of Adult Development in language. Those capable of constructing their thinking in the moment had a greater behavioural capacity as well as thinking capacity as evidenced in their response to questions from the researcher.

Dynamic Responsiveness


As mentioned above, the main premise of one’s Dynamic Responsiveness through awareness of habituated Thinking Styles is potentially better-served through a bespoke scale rather than aligned to Kegan’s Levels of Adult Development. As was illustrated in study 3 (chapter 5), the Automorphic Development Onion offers a potential framework for vertical growth via Cognitive Intention awareness. It was stated that the principle of the onion avoids the inherent assumption of betterment on a numbered scale. However, the idea of a scale is still useful in that it represents a level of awareness of the level of awareness. In other words, on a new scale behind the Thinking Quotient that looks solely at the Cognitive Intention differences, one might score ‘TQ5’, and another might score ‘TQ9’. This informs the reader automatically that the individual who scored ‘TQ9’ has a greater choice between CI pairs in the moment and is more capable of choosing between Cognitive Intentions in order to respond appropriately to the environmental stimuli than the individual who scored ‘TQ5’. This means that their Dynamic Responsiveness is greater at TQ9 than TQ5. This principle of a new scale warrants further research.

It was also proposed in Study 3 that a TQ ‘stage’ could be considered a specific Thinking Style as per objective 2 (Chapter 5). The data demonstrated in the factor analysis that at each level of the TQ, there are five different dimensions, which supports the hypothesis of automorphic Thinking Styles based on the combination of Cognitive Intentions. This is a major contribution to stage development theory as it demonstrates that differing levels of self-awareness amount to different constructions of self in the moment.

The principle here is that it evidences the Cognitive Intention combination as the driver behind the TQ level which is the ‘Thinking Style’ such as Kegan’s ‘Socialised Mind’. This is a major discovery as it supports the perspective that there are new and simpler ways to arrive at an individual’s developmental stage without the need for human intervention in the form of interviews, as per other adult development approaches.

It also accounts for the myriad combinations of CI’s around TQ3 that begin with many different Cognitive Intentions, yet all converge (i.e. Thinking Style) on a more socialised aspect of thinking. According to the data, a 5% difference in one CI pair is the difference between TQ3 and TQ3.1. This elevates Constructed Development Theory above existing systems as it has a more developed and nuanced output than other profile tools are capable of.

Dynamic systems theorists such as Thelen & Smith (1994) assume that development is continuous and thus quantitative, whereas Kohlberg (1984) suggests change is discrete and discontinuous as he separates moral content from moral structure. It has been demonstrated here that development from a Cognitive Intention perspective is quantitative, and as per chapters 6 and 7, where it is shown that developmental stages do not need to exist, then the process of transitioning from one Thinking Style to the next would appear to be simpler when viewed algorithmically, and thus might look like the Developmental Onion. See Figure 8.24.

Figure 8.3: Constructed Developmental Onion

Study 5 discussed how, when one wishes to change a Cognitive Intention bias, one must focus on its polar CI (e.g. Internal-External). Once the paired CI has been mastered (however long that takes) then that new CI is always available to the individual. This creates a choice-point for the individual where one did not previously exist. This the definition of vertical development. This can be seen in Figure 8.24 where the second turquoise ring is at a greater circumference, inferring the individual has mastered ‘Towards’ thinking and can thus utilise it at a later stage as they deem appropriate.

The literature review showed how the research on stage transition is less clear on how the transition occurs, despite, for example, the ideas of bridging within microdevelopment (Granott, Fischer & Parziale, 2002). As shown in studies 3 and 5, the Constructed Development framework offers a ‘facet’ that transitions between discrete stages of self-awareness by exposure to those facets of thinking that are habituated and out of awareness. This is a major contribution to the theory of stage transition.

It is also possible from Study 5’s findings to align each Cognitive Intention with the ‘bridge’ we saw in microdevelopment in the literature review. As each CI acts as the ‘shell’ that attracts the growth (albeit not empty) according to Granott, Fischer and Parziale (2002), Constructed Development thus offers an object that can be brought to awareness that would facilitate vertical development. This is a more robust explanation of incremental growth than Granott, et al’s empty shell bridging theory as it offers the “what” of change, as mentioned in study 3 (chapter 5).

Further to this perspective, it is hypothesised here that should the four pillars of Constructed Development factor into other stage development models, it could offer a clearer path through which growth could be established. See Figure 8.25. By offering the scales of Kegan and Laske a ‘what’ regarding their movement from self-sovereign (2) mind to socialised mind (3), CDT effectively maps the growth through their respective stages using Cognitive Intentions. The result is akin to raising awareness of their Dynamic Intelligence in order to know, specifically, how their thinking has become more ‘socialised’. Dimension 5 of the factor analysis in study 3 would be the indication for this thought process, as it contains the socialised CI’s: Relationships Affiliation, People, External and so on. This is a major contribution to Kegan’s and Laske’s theories as it categorically shows how the construction of a Socialised Mind occurs.

Thus, it is not a stage process of growth, but a continuum of ever-increasing balance of Cognitive Intention awareness and choice. An interesting question arises at this juncture that asks: if it is possible to intersect existing stage theories with the four pillars of Constructed Development Theory, in order to determine intention and awareness within, would it then be useful to disassociate CDT completely from any stage theory in order to focus on the facets of self-awareness as the factors for cognitive growth?

Figure 8.4: Example developmental stage comparison

Rather than align the Thinking Quotient to Kegan (1994) or Laske (2008)’s theories, as per studies 2 and 3, where socialised thinking was defined by specific Cognitive Intention combinations, a scale based on the relationship between all CI pairs would result in a TQ score that offers no adult stage development alignment. However, it would allow for a specific scale of self-awareness.

The proposition that removes this scale from adult development alignment requires a new interpretation of the scale, which might look like Table 8.36. The principle behind the change is the relationship between the Cognitive Intention pairs (e.g. Internal/External) and how it is scored. Where it is aligned in studies 1 to 4 via each Cognitive Intention to Kegan’s ideas of a socialised mind (stage 3) the new scale would disregard socialised (S3) or self-authoring (S4) thinking in favour of a scale solely based on the relationship between the Cognitive Intention pairs. This would then become a purer measure of self-awareness and Dynamic Intelligence.

Table 8.4: TQ Scale aligned to Adult Stages of Development versus New Scale

The way this would be achieved is by assigning higher TQ scores to the lower CI differences. See Table 8.36. A participant who scored a balance between a CI pair would score ‘10’ for that pair, indicating their choice of CI, whereas a participant who had a difference greater than 40% would score ‘2’, indicating an habituated, out-of-awareness Cognitive Intention. Further research is required to examine the possibility of this new scale.

Constructed Development Theory, with its constituent parts of Dynamic Awareness and Dynamic Responsiveness, is the principle observation that allows for the explanation and predictability of an adult’s development in thinking in the moment and over time. Dynamic Intelligence can thus be summarised as Awareness [of intention] Over Time:

Figure 8.5: Awareness / Time

The above equation can be broken down further in order to demonstrate its relationship with Dynamic Awareness (DA) and Dynamic Responsiveness (DR). Thus, DR is a function of DI over DA. This creates the choice in the moment. See Figure 8.27. In other words, as evidenced in studies 3 through 5: how aware one is will depend on their DI and their ability to conceptualise a choice. The more choice one has, the greater their capacity to respond (DR).

Figure 8.6: DR as a function

This set of functions could be considered the conceptual framework as seen in study 5, (Constructed Development) and allows us to extrapolate out to a Dynamic Intelligence Awareness Model, as introduced in study 4 (Chapter 6).

Figure 8.7: Dynamic Intelligence Awareness Model

The Zone of Dynamic Development represented in Figure 8.28 in green, allows for a certain level of prediction on the individual’s part (span of discretion). The principle being: the further from the present the individual can predict the outcome, the greater their capacity to create the connections that lead to the multitude of ramifications in their decision-making process, and thus the higher their level of Dynamic Intelligence. This predictive facet ensures that Vygotsky’s ZPD is horizontal development, and the ZDD is vertical development.

The model can be deconstructed using Cognitive Intentions, beginning with the capacity to be Pre-Active in one’s thinking, and Re-Active in one’s behaving. This will be explored further in the next section.

Metacognitive Perspective

It was stated in the literature review that Tobias and Everson (2002) suggest that metacognition is measured on the basis of observations, dialogues and individuals’ self-reports, and that there is no single tool that can measure metacognition alone (Akturk & Sahin 2011). However, if Cognitive Intentions are an adult’s way of thinking about their thinking, especially after feedback, it might be possible to argue that Constructed Development is capable of showing the process of thinking about one’s thinking using Dynamic Intelligence.

If we were to take the description of metacognition from Palincsar (1986) where he states that: ‘metacognition is the ability to plan, implement and evaluate strategic approaches to learning and problem solving’, then we can see from the output of studies 2 and 3 that with post-graduate students, the actual implementation of these facets of metacognition depend greatly on the student’s Constructed Development, and are directly affected by their position on the Thinking Quotient scale.

By this, it is meant that an individual post-graduate student who favours the ‘Procedures’ CI differs in their approach to essay-writing to one who favours ‘Options’.  This difference impacts not only the behavioural output of their Thinking Style, but also their metacognitive strategy when considering how they tackle the assignment, as illustrated in study 2. Young students have not been tested to determine their Cognitive Intention preference as yet. However, should a test be developed in the future, then the output could offer a way to develop the student in a bespoke manner that better-represents their actual Constructed Development rather than assuming all young students utilise metacognitive strategies as currently understood.

Further to this, a common theme in metacognition studies is that “students with high prior knowledge perform well regardless of the scaffold offered” (Raes et al., 2012). This suggests that scaffolding does not achieve its claimed aims and is secondary to existing knowledge. It also suggests that a ZPD-based scaffold is an incorrect choice for some students, and a more ZDD-based scaffold is required, (see Figure 8.29).

Figure 8.8: The Zone of Dynamic Development

In other words, those students with high prior knowledge performed well at downloading and repeating information, which is horizontal development (as is any academic course) and only requires process and structure. Conversely, a student exposed to more complex adaptive problems would require vertical scaffolding such as the Zone of Dynamic Development addressed in study 5. For this reason, Constructed Development would supersede metacognition from a child or adolescent perspective and offer an adult a more complex adaptive solution to problem solving. As was mentioned in the literature review (chapter 1) Schraw (2009) highlighted the difficulty of measuring metacognition and suggested that a connection to, and a measurement of metacognitive processes simultaneously does not exist. Tobias and Everson (2002) also highlighted this point when they explained that observation and self-report tools are insufficient for measuring metacognition. As mentioned above, there is no single tool that can measure the many facets of metacognition (Akturk & Sahin, 2011). However, given the supporting data here, Constructed Development Theory could be considered metacognition for adults, and the TQ benchmark tool, a measure of adult metacognition, thus impacting psychology across a number of fields.

Azevedo & Hadwin (2005) defined self-regulation as individuals’ efforts at planning, monitoring, regulating, and controlling their “cognition, motivation, behaviour, and context” (p. 201). Researchers suggested that collaborative or cooperative learning structures encourage the student development (Kramarski & Mevarech, 2003; Schraw et al., 2006). From a post-graduate perspective, this implies that the common understanding of metacognition in a learning environment is second to the Constructed Development of the adult students, and their Thinking Style. This can be explained by the fact that in Schraw, et al., (2006)’s comment, an individual requires a prompt to be self-reflective. That is in itself the opposite of the principle behind a high self-awareness that provokes self-reflection.

The Difference between Awareness and Choice

         The findings in studies 4 and 5 demonstrate how the Theory of Constructed Development is capable of moving between a domain-general perspective to domain-specific. It was initially confusing how a person who scored lower on the Thinking Quotient scale was able to recognise their Thinking Style when the prevailing research on cognitive complexity suggested those at the lower stages were not able to recognise their developmental needs (Kegan, 1994; Laske, 2008; Cook-Greuter 2010). Yet the findings of study 4 emphasised a latent innate knowing of the participants’ Cognitive Intention use, and study 5 demonstrated their Thinking Style awareness in the interviews.

         Consequently, it was hypothesised that the ‘awareness’ the interviewee had regarding their use of CI pairs was focused on the fact that they knew they favoured one over the other (e.g. ‘Internal’ rather than ‘External’), however, could not change their response in the moment due to their lack of awareness of their unconscious intention and not knowing the opposite Cognitive Intention response. This was true even with the themes ‘Feedback Aware’ and ‘Therapy Aware’ being in awareness. This is hypothesised as the difference between awareness and choice in the CDT framework and would be better represented in a new Thinking Quotient scale that focuses solely on the CI pair scores, as mentioned in the previous section.

         With a new scale in mind, if we look deeper into the dimensions from study 3 (chapter 5), it was discussed that dimension 3 acted as the disequilibrium for the content of dimension 1. These two dimensions are the generic heuristics in every context. As was explained in study 3, if an individual is imbalanced across dimension 2, their TQ score goes down. However, dimensions 4 and 5 also offered an element of disequilibrium in that they opposed each other, as well as offered the potential differentiation between Kegan’s stage 3 (socialised mind) and stage 5 (self-aware) which although both focused on ‘other’, the level of cognitive awareness is very different. Kegan’s stages 2 and 4 are about self, however, with the same cognitive separation as mentioned for 3 and 5. So the scale for both Kegan and Laske would be “Self – Other – Self – Other”.

         Dimensions 4 and 5 help to differentiate these within the TQ scale in that the CI content of dimension 4 is: ‘Own’, ‘Individualist’, ‘Internal’, ‘Influence’ and ‘Caring for Self’. Each is a heuristic towards the self, and too much imbalance means your TQ score goes down because your Thinking Style is about ‘you’.

         Dimension 5 contains: ‘Relationships’, ‘Affiliation’, ‘People’, ‘External’, ‘Listening’, Team Player’, ‘Places’ and ‘Partner’. Each is a heuristic towards the other person, and too much imbalance means your TQ score goes down because your emphasis is weighted towards their needs, not your own.

         This is an important differentiation for the concept of Thinking Styles. It helps to explain from an awareness perspective that an individual who is predominantly focused on dimension 4 CI’s with scores dramatically above those CI’s within dimension 5, is going to be aligned with Kegan’s stage 2 thinker (Self-Sovereign Mind). Whereas another individual with high scores for dimension 5 would lean towards Kegan’s stage 3 thinker (Socialised Mind). From a domain-general and domain-specific perspective, it could be argued that dimension 1 is foundational in everyone’s thinking, hence their place in the factor analysis, and dimension 3 keeps dimension 1 CI’s in check. Dimensions 2, 4 and 5 might then offer context specificity in that an individual scoring highly on dimension 5 might become a nurse (Socialised-Mind) for the reasons mentioned above.

         The important aspect of understanding this is that an individual who is balanced across all Cognitive Intentions is going to score higher on the TQ scale, as they can effectively choose to consider either the first-person position (self), second person (other) and even the third person position (meta-position) and thus be recognised as a balanced thinker with greater self-awareness in the moment, with a greater Dynamic Intelligence.

         Due to the fact that there are fifty variables (CI’s) in the construction of one’s thinking, the act of trying to name a specific sequence is futile. This implies that we could pick any stage development protagonist such as Loevinger or Torbert (see Table 8.37), choose one of their stages, and we would be no more a ‘Conformist’ than we are an ‘Individualist’ (Cook-Greuter, 1999) at any point in time due to the nature and complexity of the construction of our thinking. In other words, by virtue of the requisite Dynamic Responsiveness at each of Cook-Greuter’s stages, a ‘Conformist’ could not become an ‘Individualist’ as they lack the Cognitive Intention Awareness, Choice and Response (i.e. balance).

Table 8.5: Stage Development Table of Theorists

With stage theory expressed in this manner (Commons et al, purport to have 16 stages of development (2008)), the psychologists are absolved from the understanding of how the stages transition, as was mentioned earlier. They effectively find evidence of a minor change (in cognition or emotion) and automatically label it to differentiate it (Commons, et al., 1998). Again, as was mentioned in the literature review, what is seldom addressed is the mechanisms of the transition. It was also discussed how Commons (1984) considered his approach to complexity solely from a task perspective. However, if one were to consider thinking on a dynamic scale, with complexity demands increasing as one ascends, then the act of thinking becomes the task and ‘competence’ might exist by a different name: dynamic intelligence. The findings of the current study emphasise the perspective that thinking must come before the task, and any such task complexity is thus secondary (regardless of whether the actor can complete the task). This implies that Commons’ focus on the task was one step ahead of where the actual complexity was taking place, and should he wish to use the same principles of scalable complexity, then Dynamic Intelligence could be a determinant of capacity to complete one of his research tasks. If one were to insert the Four Pillars of Constructed Development (Intention, Awareness, Choice and Response) into Commons’ research, one might find that task complexity is an indeterminant factor if the completion of the task was not the participant’s intention as it was an instruction from a researcher. This is akin to the point made previously that suggested children performing educational tasks in order to determine their metacognitive regulation was limited by the lack of personal intention and awareness due to the task being an instruction from their teacher.

Can Dynamic Intelligence be considered an intelligence?

According to Gardner (1983), and Kornhaber, Fierros & Veneema (2004), there are certain criteria for the identification of an intelligence:

  • It should be seen in relative isolation in prodigies, autistic savants, stroke victims, or other exceptional populations. In other words, certain individuals should demonstrate particularly high or low levels of a particular capacity in contrast to other capacities.
  • It should have a distinct neural representation: that is, its neural structure and functioning should be distinguishable from that of other major human faculties.
  • It should have a distinct developmental trajectory. That is, different intelligences should develop at different rates and along paths which are distinctive.
  • It should have some basis in evolutionary biology. In other words, an intelligence ought to have a previous instantiation in primate or other species and putative survival value.
  • It should be susceptible to capture in symbol systems, of the sort used in formal or informal education.
  • It should be supported by evidence from psychometric tests of intelligence.
  • It should be distinguishable from other intelligences through experimental psychological tasks.
  • It should demonstrate a core, information-processing system. That is, there should be identifiable mental processes that handle information related to each intelligence.

The criteria listed above could be considered out of date and a misrepresentation of what an intelligence could be. If one were to create a theory on a new intelligence framework, it must also conform to what Wilson, (2016) suggests:

“…a theory… is required to tell us what to pay attention to and what to ignore. We must theorize to see. A new theory doesn’t just posit a new interpretation of old observations. It opens doors to new observations to which the old theories were blind.” PAGE NUMBER

The aims of a scientific theory are, according to Popper (1972), twofold: (1) theoretical understanding (which can also be termed explanation); and (2) practical understanding (which incorporates prediction and technical explanation). Popper emphasised that the aim of science is to provide ‘satisfactory explanations’ of things that are ‘in need of explaining’ (p. 191). To do so, scientific enquiry requires testable hypotheses. As Popper (1972) observed:

“An analysis and comparison of the degrees of testability of different theories shows that the testability of a theory grows with its degree of universality as well as with its degree of definiteness, or precision” (p. 356).

It has been argued here that the findings of this thesis have demonstrated Popper’s conditions have been met to a large extent for Constructed Development Theory and Dynamic Intelligence. It has been explained in previous studies within this thesis as well as in the current chapter, and its capacity to predict thinking and behaving in individuals has been demonstrated in studies 4 and 5. Also, it is stated that any test item that requires cognitive effort measures (at least partially) intelligence (Lubinski & Humphreys, 1997).

However, from a measurement and intelligence perspective, we must look at the constructs as described here and define them appropriately. As Constructed Development is proposing the use of constructs within a framework (mentioned in study 5, Chapter 7), a suitable definition from the literature of a construct that is multidimensional would be:

when it consists of a number of interrelated attributes or dimensions and exists in multidimensional domains” (Law, Wong, & Mobley, 1998, p. 741).

Also, a multidimensional construct ‘refers to several distinct but related dimensions treated as a single theoretical concept’ (Edwards, 2001a, p. 144). From this perspective, it is through the CDT lens with which we view the world (Merriam, 2004).  Finally, Campo, (2001) appropriately described a conceptual framework as “a structure of what has been learned to best explain the natural progression of a phenomenon that is being studied”.

         In this instance, Constructed Development Theory is a multidimensional construct as it consists of interrelated dimensions such as input data, filtering and generalising (Cognitive Intentions), intention, awareness, resultant choice and finally response in the moment (Locke, 1968). CDT offers a logical structure of these connected concepts that helps build a picture of how the ideas and findings within the five studies in this thesis are related into the theoretical framework. This demonstrates that CDT is more than a string of concepts as it is a way to illustrate the epistemological and ontological view of how we construct our thinking in the moment, supported by the data in study 3 and the testing of the principles in study 5. Further to this, within the conceptual framework is the definition of the concepts within the problem of self-awareness (Luse, Mennecke, & Townsend, 2012).

The relationship between Constructed Development and the facets of it were explained in the introduction, as this is an important step (Law et al, 1998). The reason for this is because should the dimensions be defined differently, then different conclusions will be reached regarding the relationship between those dimensions and the over-all construct, as discovered in an empirical study by Law and Wong (1999). This is important to note here from a theory development perspective as the fundamental Thinking Quotient background data could change in order to demonstrate it is possible to disassociate from stage development theories completely. Future research on this potential change is important as it would allow CDT to stand alone as a theory of self-awareness measurement, or the measure of adult metacognition.

         According to Barrouillet & Lecas (1999), the construction of mental models relies on working memory. From a dual-process perspective, Verschueren, Schaeken, and d’Ydewalle (2005) proposed to unite the probabilistic and the mental model accounts of conditional reasoning. They noted that the reasoning process based on probabilities is heuristic in nature, as suggested by Oaksford and Chater (2001). The manipulation of these mental models in order to reach conclusions as well as the search for counter-examples are deliberate and controlled, reflective analytical processes. However, this misses the underlying cognitive complexity of the individual being asked to perform any such task. For those who were capable of producing fast responses, the variations in those responses were better-explained by variations in likelihood information. With more options to choose from, those variations offered the thinker a greater pool of choices from which to pull. This is the principle of a high Dynamic Intelligence. On the other hand, slow responses depended on the availability of counter-examples. Verschueren, et al., (2005) also concluded that analytical reasoning could override the conclusions produced by probability estimates, without mentioning the cognitive complexity of the participants examined. From a Constructed Development perspective, it is possible that a misinterpretation of the underlying structure of thinking led to these conclusions. An individual capable of choosing a response based on greater Dynamic Intelligence might appear to be using counter-examples when in essence, they are simply more dynamically intelligent (DI), more capable of pulling in greater numbers of factors and considering their ramifications in the moment (DR).

         Based on a greater awareness of their construction of the problem rather than available probabilities, an individual might score highly on the inferential tests, unwittingly adding to the statistics without the researcher’s understanding that to see what is not seen is a developmental problem (a problem of the dialectic), not a problem for memory. Where the example of a flightless bird is given in the research, a more Dynamically Intelligent individual would potentially not make the mistake of thinking all birds can fly as they would ask: “what am I not seeing that is equally important?” This extrapolation would include flightless birds as it is an example of Hegel’s dialectic (1989).

The Issue of Measurement – Thinking Quotient

Studying a concept together with the way it is measured creates a virtuous cycle of better measurement and a better theoretical understanding (Borsboom, Mellenbergh, & van Heerden, 2004; Hood, 2009). Laske (2011) provided a process for analysing the content of interviews to ascertain the most likely stage of adult development, based on the structural form of the interview content, rather than the content itself. This is a lengthy process and far too onerous, which leaves it open to bias by the human interviewers. Inter-rater reliability is in danger of impacting a client’s score both positively and negatively. This issue could be mitigated with an automated system. If we go back to the point made by Lewin (1935) in his report of behaviourism, the issue he encountered was that of measurement. He stated that: ‘a behavior at a given point in time is a function of the person and his or her momentary context’. For this he devised a heuristic equation:

B = f (P, E,)

Lewin treated the person and the situation as transactional factors, separate and inseparable, from which the behaviours emerged. From this perspective, mental events and behaviours are derived from context (Markus, 2008; Steele, 1997). One reason why individuals might construct their thinking differently is touched on by Shoda, Mischel, & Wright, (1994) who stated that only those aspects of the physical environment that are pertinent to the goal aspirations of the individual are taken into account. In other words, two people in the same environment might construct their thinking differently based on differing goals. This could also be interpreted via Constructed Development Theory as: two people within the same environment will have different Thinking Styles. In effect, the mind constructs the psychological niche within which the personality fits (Mischel, 2004). Again, this lends itself to a constructed environment. However, where Constructed Development contributes to the field is in its perspective on a person’s level of awareness of this contextually-derived behavioural response, and a person’s level of choice in the moment to either adopt an habituated pattern, or to employ a different pattern after considering the ramifications of said behavioural choices. See Figure 8.27.

         Although Likert scales (1932) are used throughout the profiling industry, there is an inherent problem when it comes to addressing choice from a Constructed Development perspective: there is no black and white thinking (either/or) because there are only shades of grey (Laske, 2015). A Likert scale does allow for a scaled response; however, it does not allow for an ‘and/both’ option, which means it does not allow for the measure of capacity and capability. With this in mind, how would a person who has a high Dynamic Intelligence demonstrate on a scale that their response is from a position of awareness and thus choice? Even with a modified Likert scale, it would still be difficult to ascertain meaning. See Figure 8.30. This issue is overcome in the Thinking Quotient as it addresses the question of bias indirectly, thus allowing for an inference of awareness by the participant rather than a direct measure. That is not to say that future incarnations of the TQ questionnaire will not use a Likert scale: only that it would require some constructive redesigning to elicit intention and awareness, not the participant’s opinion. Conscious self-report versus unconscious intention and awareness.

Figure 8.9: Modified Likert scale example

Given the above, an alternative scale might be the frequency-based format (Edwards & Woehr, 2007), which is known to be less susceptible to deliberate distortion, which can increase predictive validity (Fleisher, Woehr, Edwards, & Cullen, 2011).  Unlike Likert scales, a participant is asked to rate their most recent behaviour, and how true it is for them that they might be ‘the life and soul of the party’ using a timescale. They are thus supposedly describing their behaving, not their personality.

Dynamic Intelligence

Essentially, all models are wrong; but some are useful – George Box (1976)

As mentioned in the Introduction, Dynamic Intelligence is the process by which we construct our thinking in the moment in order to determine the path from (unconscious) Intention to Awareness, then Choice and finally Response. Each Cognitive Intention is a specific Intention, and the greater one’s awareness of the intention, the more choice it creates in the response in the moment, thus, the greater one’s Dynamic Intelligence.

Following on from the issues of measurement outlined above (Akturk & Sahin, 2011), the natural flow of Dynamic Intelligence measurement might be better explained in a graphic that maps the flow from conscious Intention to conscious Response. See Figure 8.31.

Figure 8.10: Simplistic View of the Flow of DA to DR

The diagram illustrates how a completely unconscious thinker would follow the path left to right, being unconscious of their Intention, Awareness, Choice and Response, and end up at the bottom of the TQ scale: 2.0. An individual who is completely conscious of their intention all the way through to their choice to many responses in the moment would come out at the top of the TQ scale: 5.0. An individual with an unconscious Intention has a maximum developmental level of TQ3.4, and thus in order to grow their thinking, one must go back to the last point of unawareness and bring it into conscious awareness. This approach could solve the problem of adult metacognition measurement.

An unconscious awareness might be described as a lack of understanding of the unconscious intention driving the awareness. In other words, it is what is described as ‘second nature’, and the difference between primary attention and secondary attention. The former is in awareness until the latter takes priority. There is no real choice in it until we are jolted out of our unconscious state. An example would be what is referred to as ‘Highway Hypnosis’: driving a car on ‘autopilot’ until a cat leaps out in front of the car and the driver breaks immediately. The unconscious awareness is present; however, it is not in awareness (conscious). One is unconsciously aware, constructing our immediate present according to the environment until the disruption of a cat occurs. And then the driver’s memory of similar events takes over and the immediate construction of the (potential) event takes place. For a more profound understanding of Constructed Development, it could be argued that the cat would be killed by a driver with fewer connections to dynamically draw upon (or ‘past precedents’ (Chater, 2018, p.486)) and the driver with the greater experience might avoid the cat as more past-experiential options are available in the (unconscious) moment. This interpretation is in effect, a construction based on past interpretation of the same disruption (cat) (ibid. p473).

This leads to the potential argument of modularity when addressing the mind: ever since Fodor’s landmark book The Modularity of Mind (1983) where he posited that behaviour is the product of independent, functional components, realised in discrete physical systems, and that these components are minimally interactive. Fodor (1983) limits his perspective on modularity at the low-level systems underlying language and perception, whereas post-Fodorian theorists such as Sperber (2002) and Carruthers (2006) argue that the mind is wholly modular. Originally advocated by advocates of evolutionary psychology (Sperber, 1994, 2002; Barrett, et al., 2010; Pinker, 1997; Barrett, 2005; Barrett & Kurzban, 2006), the hypothesis has received its most comprehensive defence by Carruthers (2006), who argued that should massive mental modularity be possible, then a module cannot be that which Fodor initially termed. Instead, it might mean a module is a function-specific processing system (ibid. p12). The Constructed Development Theory extension to this perspective is that Cognitive Intentions are a natural consequence of modular thinking in context in that our need to be consistent results in patterned, habituated thinking styles, borne of these function-specific processes.

Contrary to this is Prinz’s (2006) perspective that modularity is not a useful construct when doing mental cartography. In effect, Prinz’s conclusion is that: ‘the mind is a smattering of modular parts at best’, and Fodor essentially over-stated his position as his definition left no room for the process of ontogenetic development. It suggested that modules emerge through growth, rather than via learning and experience. This suggests a certain innateness, whereas Quartz and Sejnowski (1997) suggest sensory mechanisms are acquired through interactions with our environment (as per the Constructivist perspective).

However, from the data in the current study, it could be argued that the modularity Fodor, (1983) and Carruthers, (2006) discuss is actually a battle between the conscious awareness of fifty Cognitive Intentions directing our thinking in the moment. The construction that ‘wins’ is the Thinking Style that emerged from study 3. This argument can be taken one step further with Feldman-Barrett’s constructed emotions theory, as discussed in the literature review.

Constructed Emotions

Emotion categories are as real as any other conceptual categories
that require a human perceiver for existence
– Feldman-Barrett, (2017)

Feldman-Barrett’s (2017) book ‘How Emotions are Made’ has emphasised mechanisms within our thinking that allows our brain to predict what is going to happen based on what has already happened (Feldman-Barrett, 2006, 2017). This supports the conclusions in metacognition for children as seen in the literature review, and in the literature section of study 4 regarding self-awareness. Feldman-Barrett states that: “predictions are the basis for every experience that you have and every action that you take” (p90). She goes on to say that predictions seem primal and help us to make sense of the world (p6) and their purpose is to minimise prediction error. Once this has happened, a prediction becomes a perception or experience. Our brains do not react to the world: instead, they use past experience to predict and then construct our experience in the world (p69). Finally, she states that: “a brain implements an internal model of the world with concepts because it is metabolically efficient to do so” (Feldman-Barrett, 2017). It might be reasonable to assume at this point that a representation of this idea from an adult’s perspective might be a Cognitive Intention.

Barrett goes on to say that if we were to change the ingredients our brains use to construct an emotion, we are effectively teaching our brain to predict differently, which she calls ‘being the architect of our experience’ (p160). Thus, Cognitive Intentions might potentially be a way of reducing one’s prediction error, and thus keeping us safe, by replicating previous known safe patterns of thinking/behaving. As mentioned, this might explain a factor of microdevelopment (Granott, Fischer & Parziale, 2002) that has so far been missed by researchers: one that implies it is difficult to move up the standard scale of development as this would require a level of prediction that would take the actor out of their predictive comfort zone. Thus, if one is aware of which Cognitive Intentions one uses to construct their thinking and responding in the moment, albeit based on the predictive value of prior experience as per Barrett, then one might become the architect of their Constructed Development. Dynamic Intelligence then becomes a graduated scale of self-awareness as informed and developed by the individual in response to the momentary stimuli, a measure of adult metacognition. This leads to a need for a deeper look at construction.

A Flat Mind

In his book The Mind is Flat (2018) Chater states that there is no high-level intention and there are no high-level frames or values or anything else, as the mind is flat. However, there has to be a differentiator for one’s response to a situation as a teenager (TQ2) and as a middle-aged adult (TQ4). From the findings of the studies within this thesis, the awareness of the intention behind the response is the differentiator that can be discerned from the data that changes the meaning-making. If the intention were to remain constant, an adult would find themselves at TQ2 once they reach 50 years of age, and potentially in prison (Laske, 2015, p130). From a neurological perspective, Chater is saying that an individual at TQ2 has a smaller neural network of available thinking space. This perspective is also supported in the field of personality neuroscience which suggests that the brain is the proximal source of human behaviour, and thus those with different behaviours must also have some aspects of their brain structured differently (Yarkoni, 2013). As was mentioned in the literature review, some psychologists have suggested that children grow their cognition as they age simply due to the fact that the physical brain grows, and Piaget was describing the inevitable, not a profound cognitive difference between developmental stages. From the findings of study 5 where a theme emerged called ‘Experiential Awareness’, which demonstrated that an interviewee knew how they thought based on prior experience of their thinking and could then recognise it in a new situation. This supports Barrett’s research and allows the current study to reflect on the possibility that experiential awareness is simply a habit, for which one’s Cognitive Intention construction equates to a lack of awareness, not the opposite. This was highlighted in study 5 with Frankie’s demonstrations of habituated constructions of self over time, which were out of awareness until this construction was pointed out by the researcher. Therefore, one cannot be the architect of one’s Constructed Development if it is a repeated pattern of thinking/behaving out of awareness. It is thus not a deliberate intention but experiential evidence that produces the lack of choice, as seen in study 5. This creates the lack of awareness and an habituated response in the moment. Chater also says that we do not look inwards on our mental world, but instead, we invent a story moment-by-moment (ibid, p30). The Constructed Development Theory principles are supported by Chater’s ideas in that a greater experience allows for a greater Dynamic Intelligence which leads to a greater Dynamic Responsiveness. This is then supported by a larger neural network of decision possibilities. To ensure this connection is robust, an element of post-doctoral work would be necessary.

Chater goes on to say that we are not really conscious of ‘things’ such as apples or people as we are only conscious of our interpretation of our sensory experience of them (p446). It is this interpretation of the sensory experience that might be coded as a Cognitive Intention. If we are not aware of our awareness in the moment, then there has to be an element of automaticity in our construction of our thoughts, and that might provide the answer as to why Cognitive Intentions arose in the first instance. Further to this, the deeper one goes in their quest to understand which of these heuristics impact our thinking the most, the greater our capacity to bring to awareness those heuristics. Thus, an individual who has worked to understand their thinking construction might have a better representation of their sensory input based on more CI awareness. This would obviously manifest in a high score on the Thinking Quotient, and it might also look like Figure 8.30.

            Figure 8.30 demonstrates that those individuals capable of uncovering the Cognitive Intentions shown in study 3 as least-accessible (Relationship, External, Places, etc) are going to display more socialised thinking in the form of Kegan’s stage 5 thinker. Those CI’s in green are from dimension 1 of Table 8.37, and those at the bottom of the image are from dimension 5 of the same. The more balanced one is in those least-accessible CI’s, the greater their Dynamic Responsiveness. However, as Chater specifies, it is only the answers to the unconscious question we uncover, not the origins of the mental process behind it (p435). With that in mind, Constructed Development is not asserting it knows how the unconscious process of ‘Internal’ is created, only that it is used to propel one’s thinking in the moment.

Chater states that an iceberg analogy is misleading as there are no conscious and unconscious thoughts: “there is just one type of thought, and each such thought has two aspects: a conscious read-out, and unconscious processes generating the read-out.” (p451).

He goes onto say that ‘ice is ice’ and what is hidden can be made visible, and vice versa (p448).

Figure 8.11: Constructed Development Iceberg

The metaphor suggests that the very same thought could be either conscious or unconscious (p448) and as this is the principle of Constructed Development, the iceberg works well as a metaphor for bringing unconscious cognitive heuristics to awareness, with the resultant Dynamic Responsiveness: in other words, the unconscious process and the conscious read-out.

Finally, Chater says that perhaps our inner-oracle has a simple, intuitive psychology, guided by common-sense theories nothing like those existing in psychology so far (p45). He writes:

“… psychology should be aligned with the arts and the humanities rather than the sciences; perhaps understanding ourselves is inevitably just a matter of eliciting, reflecting on, analysing, challenging and reconceptualizing our interpretations of thought and behaviour; and interpretations of other people’s interpretations; and so on, indefinitely. If so, then perhaps we should create a psychology in which everyone has a valid perspective on themselves and everyone else, in which any view can be re-analysed, contested, overturned or revived, which sees the understanding of mind and behaviour as an open-ended discussion, where there are no ‘right answers’ and never could be.”

This quote will be unpicked and expanded upon in the following section.

Contributions to Theory

“The mind is carried by habit, upon the appearance of one event, to expect its usual attendant,

The fundamental proposition that binds this thesis together is that everything is constructed. From the self to our thoughts, from patterns to habits and from our environment to culture.

The knowledge that everything is constructed is a developmental point in and of itself. It is our awareness of this construction and our capacity to change it that separates CDT from orthodox constructivist theory, and from the adult development literature. CDT thus links adult development to cognitive neuroscience via Chater’s and Barrett’s work.

Intention, Awareness, Choice and Response are the Four Pillars and the foundation of CDT. These are integral to an individual’s level of self-insight, their capacity to construct their personality in the moment, their capability within their organisational role, and the determinant factor in their cognitive complexity. In other words, Constructed Development Theory, when applied to existing theories stands out as the psychological common denominator that unites stage development, stage transition, intelligence theories, constructivist theories, heuristics, and adult development, including but not limited to, the works of Piaget, Vygotsky, Wadsworth, (2004), Bruner, Flavell, Gardner, Kelly, Dweck, Hall, Woodsmall, Brown, Evans, Kegan, Laske, Commons, Chater and Feldman-Barrett.

The following short list outlines the support within this thesis for the existing literature:

However, it is important to note that where CDT supports the existing literature, it then goes some way to expand on the principles and extend the thinking using its own framework as the basis for a new approach.

Firstly, CDT contributes to theory with the creation of Cognitive Intentions and Thinking Styles. With an almost infinite combination of CI’s that create an almost infinite number of Thinking Styles, CDT can be considered the link between constructionism and constructivism which Chater (2018) implies is necessary but until this thesis, not described in the literature. This propels CDT beyond the bounds of more traditional psychometrics.

When we look at both Feldmna-Barret (2017) and Chater (2018) in the context of construction based on Cognitive Intentions, what becomes important is the principle of self-awareness as the key to cognitive and emotional growth. Indeed, this is the foundation to CDT being the common denominator. According to Pascual-Leone and Johnson (2013), measurable changes in one’s mental capacity are responsible for developmental change, not associative learning mechanisms. This thesis has demonstrated that an individual’s mental capacity as measured from their awareness of their CI use is the developmental change to which they refer.

A further contribution to theory is that it does not matter which facets of self-awareness are measured. The fact that self-awareness can be measured (via the TQ) is a significant contribution by this study. The implications of a constructed world as per Feldman-Barrett (2017) and Chater (2018) emphasise the foundations of Constructed Development Theory as not necessarily solely Cognitive Intentions. It is equally plausible that any facet of self-awareness could be measured, and the results would still equate to an individual’s level of Dynamic Intelligence. As Chater states: ‘each of us is a tradition, guided and shaped by our past… we continually build and rebuild ourselves’ (p489). In simple terms, Constructed Development Theory offers a number of facets that facilitate this rebuilding. To take further and reframe Chater’s quote using CDT language, each of us is a habit. How aware we are of this habit is key to our self-construction. It is established that CDT is the foundational construction behind Chater’s ‘inner-Oracle’: the intuitive psychology nothing like those existing in psychology so far (ibid. p45).

This leaves the door open for a plethora of post-doctoral research into how future researchers could utilise Constructed Development Theory as a framework for cognitive growth, using any facet of self-awareness that can be measured as a function of one’s Dynamic Intelligence. The four pillars of Intention, Awareness, Choice and Response (CDT) would then be supported with a greater number of measurable facets, reinforcing its contribution to psychology as a legitimate stand-alone field.

As has been shown, the fundamental challenge CDT puts to existing theory is that one must use a version of stages or scales (REF from LR) in order to grow one’s cognitive capacity or complexity.

Zone of Dynamic Development

As discussed in study 4, Vygotsky (1978) focused on tasks and processes with children’s learning, whereas it has been shown here that although adults have the capacity to question the construction of their thinking using Cognitive Intentions, seldom do they deviate from their habituated Thinking Styles. By questioning the dialectic arguments within our thinking structure, we move beyond the process elements of proximal development (Vygotsky, 1978) and into the adult development arena where a more dynamic cognitive development is realised.

CDT contributes to existing theory here by offering a Zone of Dynamic Development for adult thinking, which focuses on what is not yet seen by the individual and thus unlocks the Cognitive Intention awareness within their Thinking Style (see Figure 8.33).

Figure 8.12: The Zone of Dynamic Development

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 are out of reach. By combining the principles of the Dynamic Intelligence Awareness Model (Figure 6.14) and the Constructed Developmental Onion (Figure 8.34), the capacity and capability of an individual is stretched with the balance of Cognitive Intentions into the Zone of Dynamic Development.

This is a major differentiator from Vygotsky’s theory (ZPD), as it extends his principles of proximal development into the adult arena, extending it up to and including the full range of an adults’ capacity to grow (TQ10). The closer an adult is to choosing their behaviour in the moment (e.g. TQ8), the smaller their Zone of Dynamic Development (see Figure 8.33). Conversely, the less aware they are, the greater their ZDD. A major contribution to theory is the understanding that Vygotsky’s ZPD is horizontal growth, whereas the ZDD is vertical growth.

Figure 8.13: Zone of Dynamic Development

The Development Onion

The Constructed Development Onion is an illustration of growth within the framework of CDT via Cognitive Intention awareness. It helps to propel CDT beyond the theory of stage development and stage transition by illustrating how the focusing of one’s Awareness on a specific Cognitive Intention creates a more balanced outlook and a greater Dynamic Intelligence. See Figure 8.34.

The Development Onion demonstrates visually how stage movement is not a staircase, but instead is constructed of increasing circles of awareness of one’s Cognitive Intention use. The onion avoids the inherent assumption of betterment, as seen in Laske’s (2008) or Kegan’s (1994) scales where one might assume Stage 4 is ‘better’ than Stage 2 by virtue of it being numerically higher, when in reality, from a Constructed Development Theory perspective, it is simply a different combination of Cognitive Intentions and a different Awareness of their use, thus a different way of constructing oneself in the moment.

Figure 8.14: The CDT Onion

Using the Onion, it is possible to take the ideas of stage transition (vertical) and typical skill acquisition (horizontal) to another level by offering an insight into an individual’s horizontal development and vertical development depending on which way the onion is hypothetically sliced.

Figure 8.15: Vertical Developmental Slice

Figure 8.16: Horizontal Developmental Slice

Figure 8.36 shows a horizontal slice through the Development Onion. This denotes those activities that are typical of one’s movement through time, such as training programmes, skill acquisition and process-oriented manual activities. It is apparent that these are not development, but skills-based and knowledge-based. This separation propels CDT beyond the current definitions of learning and development in industry by differentiating between potential outcomes. This requires further longitudinal studies to verify the principles laid out here.

Adult Metacognition and Stage Transition

It was demonstrated in study 3 that despite the many theories of stage movement and development, none offered the concrete facets of thinking that can be pointed to and changed in order to facilitate a vertical move. Study 4 demonstrated that it is possible to map out the vertical stage transition process using an individual’s level of awareness of their Cognitive Intention use. In other words, there is no stage of thinking per se, but there is a measurable movement from one level of awareness to the next using the TQ scale. Each Cognitive Intention is the bridge and the scaffolding to the next level of complexity (Granott et al., 2002). This is a major contribution to the ideas behind stage transition.

This propels Constructed Development Theory beyond the principles of stage transition by offering a method of movement by the manipulation of an individual’s level of awareness of their CI choices in the moment. This was illustrated in the Developmental Onion (Figure 8.34). It shows visually how CDT requires no stages in order to develop one’s thinking. Each ring of the onion is an Intention.

The four pillars of Constructed Development offer a framework for stage transition and movement in a way that does not require a mathematical formula such as the Model of Hierarchical Complexity (Commons, 1984). By changing an individual’s relationship with their awareness of one Cognitive Intention, such as Internal or External, their overall Dynamic Intelligence changes, propelling them up the TQ scale as their relationship with their awareness becomes balanced over time.

The Dynamic Intelligence Awareness Model

A further contribution by CDT to adult development is the DI Awareness Model (p111). This model highlights one’s capacity for thinking and awareness in a predictive fashion in that the earlier an individual is capable of stepping out of their own perspective in order to predict the outcome of a given event, making use of their awareness of their use of Cognitive Intentions in the moment, the higher their potential Dynamic Intelligence (Figure 6.16, p111). Up to this point, using awareness as the key for predictive cognitive growth had not been established in the literature.

The Thinking Quotient

Objective 5 asked if a benchmark score can be created to normalise the Identity Compass output. This was achieved by mapping the relevant Cognitive Intentions to the behavioural output of Kegan’s (1994) Levels of Adult Development from a social-emotional perspective, and Laske’s (2008) Cognitive Development Framework from a cognitive perspective.

An individual’s capacity to choose their thinking/behaving aligned with Kegan’s notion of Subject/Object behaviour in that if they hold the two CI’s as Object, they could choose to do either in a given context (Kegan, 1994). This was opposed to the individual being ‘Subject to’ one of the Cognitive Intentions due to its unconscious nature. However, CDT and Dynamic Intelligence are indicative of the thinking before Kegan’s Subject/Object behaviour as their initial construction would dictate just how Subject they were if they were unaware of their Intention in the moment. This profoundly implies that CDT is the foundational thinking behind Kegan’s system. This principle would tie in with the Development Awareness Model in that greater Awareness of one’s Intention in the moment leads to greater Choice in one’s Dynamic Responsiveness, thus further supporting the principle that stages are not required for cognitive or emotional growth.

This major contribution to theory helps to cement the Thinking Quotient scale as the de facto measure of an individual’s capacity to choose a response in the moment.

Emotional Intelligence

It was highlighted at the beginning of this chapter that Emotional Intelligence could be considered a facet of Dynamic Intelligence, as one’s trait-based behaviour is indicative of how an individual would choose (or not) to respond in the moment, similar to Kegan’s Subject/Object thinking. By inserting the four pillars of Constructed Development Theory into OCEAN (or any trait-based personality studies) an entirely new approach to personality would emerge: one that emphasises how deliberate an individual’s personality is. In other words, when one is aware of their construction of self in the moment, and has mastered this construction to TQ8 or above, personality is a choice. This would profoundly impact the thinking behind EI and thus change its emphasis and outcome going forward.

Finally, from these contributions to the literature emerges distinct contributions to practise, based on the fundamentals of Constructed Development Theory and the support found in study 5 of this thesis.

Contributions to Practice

         The movement from abstract theory to the supportive data, qualitative feedback, and practical application, leads to how Constructed Development Theory will eventually become a field within academia. Study 3 offers quantitative support for the facets of CDT in that there is statistical evidence of Thinking Styles based on the combinations of Cognitive Intentions, which leads to the four stages of the Thinking Quotient scale. Study 4 demonstrates that individuals are not as aware of their Thinking Styles from a Dynamic Intelligence perspective. Conversely, they are aware of specific Cognitive Intention biases in their thinking, as seen in study 5, primarily based on prior longitudinal experience of those biases. Whereas study 5 offers qualitative support for the theory as interviewees demonstrated their awareness and lack of awareness of study 4’s output. What has been discussed is that despite some adults thinking about their thinking, (metacognition), it is more often the case that an individual needs to have their biases exposed by a More Complex Other before any remedial action is possible. This will be discussed next.

Constructed Development Interventions

Interventions within the framework of Constructed Development are possible with a simple exposure to limiting Cognitive Intention bias. Using the four pillars (IACR), and following the data findings of study 3, those Cognitive Intentions that had the greatest impact on the TQ score would be the obvious place to begin a bespoke intervention programme. Where one is high on ‘Internal’ and low on ‘External’ with a lack of empathy based on ‘Partner’ and ‘Own’, the way to focus the individual’s thinking construction to become more balanced would be to implement a strategy with an emphasis on greater externalisation of evaluation. For example: how does my thinking and behaving affect others? What aspects of my thinking impact others negatively? Can I create a decision path that excludes all personal benefits? There are exercises based on this that would physically move the individual into second and third positions to influence an external perspective on their thinking construction.

Awareness Intervention

From a CDT intervention perspective and how awareness of the use of Cognitive Intentions is key, Figure 8.37 illustrates a typical output sheet for a Thinking Quotient profile. It can be seen that where there is a number in the ‘Count’ column adjacent to a low ‘Score’, this indicates the Cognitive Intentions that require an intervention.

For example, the score for ‘Thinking Style’ is ‘2.00’. This is a low TQ score and shows a disparity of 60% between ‘Abstract and ‘Concrete’. In terms of remedial interventions, to whomever this profile belonged would have been asked how they construct “knowing” and what is important to them about knowing the facts (of a situation). This would have allowed for further deconstruction using CI’s, until the driver CI was found for their lack of awareness of an Abstract position. They have a lack of choice in their response: they can only focus on control and lack the capacity to go above the task and consider the ideas, principles and levels of abstraction (higher level thinking, as mentioned) that a more aware thinker can achieve in context.

         Their Planning Style is also limited to an Options pattern (TQ2). From a Dynamic Intelligence perspective, they do not consider the potential for Options and thus limit their Dynamic Responsiveness by reverting to Concrete and Procedural thinking only. A More Complex Other would see this and be capable of pointing it out as a development opportunity.

Figure 8.17: The Thinking Quotient Output Sheet

Coaching Intervention

Whether these interventions are generic or individualised, they require a physical ‘other’ who is capable of seeing the limiting Thinking Style of the client and disrupting their construction of self, enough to jolt them out of their habits, whilst ensuring no psychological harm comes to them. This points to the need for a coach or mentor with a sufficiently higher TQ than the client. The argument for a developmental relationship was put forward by Laske (2007) who stated that unless a coach is one stage higher in their cognitive complexity than their client, they are more damaging to the client than developmental.

         From a Constructed Development Theory perspective, Figure 8.39 illustrates this principle, where the green arrow indicates a developmental relationship, the amber arrow is conversational, and the red arrow is damaging.

Figure 8.18: Constructed Development Coaching Hierarchy

Interventions also point to the Constructivist view of reality in that many therapies rely on Constructivism as a foundation for change in one’s thinking. As mentioned in study 5, the Therapy Aware theme encountered by some interviewees could be described using Cognitive Intentions, which illustrates the connection between constructivism and social constructionism. The way in which an individual constructs their thinking is both an internal cognitive process (constructivism) and a result of social interchange (constructionism) as described by Guterman (2006). Constructed Development Theory is thus how we perceive ourselves in the world, uniting constructivism with constructionism. This contributes to theory and practice.

This could be investigated with a longitudinal study. Thus, the objectives in studies 1 and 2 that asked if Cognitive Intention awareness results in a greater self-awareness that impacts an individual’s response in the moment appear to be valid. Further research on longitudinal interventions is essential in order to solidify Constructed Development Theory as a functional theory.     

A CDT Approach to Talking Therapies

To extend these principles to talking therapies, as an extension to study 5, the development grid created as part of the mapping of CDT and Thinking Quotient levels will be used in future studies as a way of improving the psychodynamic approach. The psychodynamic therapist would usually be treating the patient for depression or anxiety related disorders (REFXXX).

            Another approach is Compassion Focussed Therapy by Gilbert (2014), which ultimately forces proponents into Kegan’s stage 3 thinking (Socialised Mind). It has been argued throughout that an individual at Stage 3 is not capable of coaching someone at Stage 4. Gilbert (2014) explains the psychological issues of socially constructed hierarchies as having a huge impact on people’s psychological and physiological health and well-being (Kraus, Piff, Mendoza-Denton, Rheinschmidt, & Keltner, 2012; Sachs, 2012), and that it is now recognised that mental health issues arise out of this false construction of society. He goes on to say that it is the context as much as the ‘inner motivational system’ that is the issue. This aligns with CDT’s perspective on the environment being the greatest intervention. However, where CDT takes Gilbert’s ideas one step further is in the capacity and capability of the individual to construct a different environment in the moment with the appropriate CDT intervention questions, thus moving the patient away from any emotional constraints.

            This has huge implications for the person receiving therapy as CDT assesses those offering therapy and ensures there is no conflict between TQ stages that could lead to a detrimental relationship for both therapist and patient (see Figure 8.38). This is essentially a protective factor for the patient as it is important that a registered therapist can ascertain, but more importantly, is capable of ascertaining the right level of developmental support for their patients. This was evidenced in study 5 where Abigail (Interviewee 1) mapped her own process to every patient, regardless of their psychological requirements, and more importantly, completely out of her own awareness. Had Abigail utilised CDT in the way described, she would have avoided imposing her own model onto her client.

Instead, a more appropriate and useful real-time modelling would occur where the construction of the client would emerge from the developmental dialogue (i.e. not therapy) and each would be discussed from a dialectical perspective once the client had placed their comments in their appropriate squares (see Figure 8.39). By using a method of real-time modelling that teases out an individual’s thinking construction in the moment, and writing down key phrases they use, it is possible to ask the client to place those phrases on the corresponding grid reference in order to ascertain their own perceived level of development for their own language. See Figure 8.39.

Figure 8.19: Constructed TQ Grid

This then allows the CDT therapist to ask the right developmental questions. This is not how current talking therapies work. By virtue of this system, the Thinking Quotient system can differentiate between an individual who requires a therapy approach and one who requires a constructed conversation with a peer.

Impact on Practitioners

A final major contribution to theory and practice is the use of CDT to determine the ability of a psychologist’s capacity and capability from a constructed perspective. It is posited here that a psychologist familiar with their construction of self in the moment will also be familiar with their client’s construction of self, and the differences in their respective constructions on their respective thinking. These practitioners will be less prone to emotional exhaustion, as is the case in psychotherapeutic practice today (REF XXX) as they will understand that they do not need to enter the construction of their client and thus not get taken in by their emotional trauma. Understanding that the client’s emotional trauma is simply a construction is the key to more adaptable and robust psychology.

Finally, the impact of Constructed Development Theory on both theory and practice can be summed up with the following list:

It is apparent that Constructed Development Theory contributes significantly to both theory and practice, with the additional summary:

Limitations of the Research

This research has a number of potential limitations which were considered. As all 5 studies were testing an hypothesis and theory application, Mook (1983) argues that the sample of participants does not matter, as do Bello et al., (2009) and Pernice, van der Veer, Ommundsen, & Larsen, (2008).

However, this issue was addressed in study 3. The 8,200 profiles are from differing countries where cultural differences might influence ways of thinking (Wodak and Boukala (2015). From the information gained from the profile owner, the profiles were predominantly of middle-to-upper management in a variety of large organisations across the world. This suggests that the starting point for their [Constructed] development would be around the median and higher stages. There is no gender or age data. Other limitations of survey-based questionnaires include a difficulty to convey feeling and emotion; an issue of interpretation and meaning-making; a participant might have a particular bias in their responses; unconscious responses; social desirability, and survey fatigue.

A final limitation for the entire thesis, as mentioned in study 4, illustrates the theory being investigated in all 5 studies: the self-awareness of the interviewer (his Dynamic Intelligence). If the researcher is not sufficiently high on the TQ scale to notice the patterns of the interviewees, he will miss potentially important information offered by an interviewee. This might lead to misinterpretation and an incorrect message in the transcripts. Conversely, should he be too high, he might not be able to relate to the interviewee and be too unattainable in his approach.

Strengths of the Findings

The aim of the five studies in this thesis was to build on the hypothesis that an adult’s Thinking Style is due to the accumulated effect of their awareness of fifty heuristics (Cognitive Intentions), guiding and influencing decision-making in an unconscious manner until they are brought into awareness. This thesis also aimed to provide a contribution to psychology in the form of a new framework for cognitive construction utilising said Cognitive Intentions, their combination and subsequent creation of Thinking Styles; our awareness of the relationship between the Cognitive Intention pairs, and the resultant choice emerging from that relationship. Finally, the evidence for the four pillars of Constructed Development and its capacity to intersect all stage development theories in order to elicit unknown Intentions, Awareness, Choices and Responses highlights a future for Constructed Development that goes beyond its current form.

The five studies reported here have a number of significant strengths. First, different methodologies were employed ranging from self-report online questionnaires with quantitative results (studies 1 to 3), a self-report questionnaire designed to elicit awareness (study 4), a comparison of self-report versus standardised questionnaire results (study 4) and a qualitative semi-structured interview process (study 5) to gauge the lived experiences of the participants from a Constructed Development perspective.

Secondly, findings reported in this thesis of the awareness of the relationships between the Cognitive Intentions are strengthened by the use of quantitative and qualitative methods of assessing their conscious or unconscious use. Previous research had focused on a variety of methods to discern self-awareness as well as metacognitive processes in children, however, they have been somewhat lacking in adult cognition, thus this thesis contributes to the field significantly.

Finally, the correlation between high levels of self-awareness and complexity were implied and aligned using the output of the Thinking Quotient scale to Kegan’s (1994) and Laske’s (2008) complexity scales. This has the potential to positively impact adult maturity and stage development psychology.

Future Research

From the findings in the current thesis, it can be surmised that there exists a dichotomy when it comes to personality: there are those individuals who are deliberate in their personality, and those who are passive. The goal of much personality research is to determine to what degree individuals differ, which has resulted in the proliferation of a between-persons approach. On the other hand, the maintenance of a consistent personal behavioural style across contexts is often related to behavioural consistency, as opposed to negatively related to behavioural change (Sauerberger & Funder, 2016). As has been mentioned, there is no research that determines choice in one’s trait-based behaviours. The closest to a definitive conclusion stipulates that: “the maintenance of a consistent personal behavioral style in no way rules out an ability to respond flexibly to changing situational circumstances” (Sauerberger & Funder, 2016: p271).

            Studies have empirically shown that individuals fluctuate massively in their behaviour even on a daily basis (Fleeson, 2001; Heller, Komar, & Lee, 2007). Understanding why they fluctuate is key to understanding personality beyond the boundary of trait theory (Wilson, Thompson, & Vazire, 2017). As was mentioned in the literature review, the thing that comes before a trait can manifest as a behaviour is one’s thinking. It is this starting point from which trait theory would benefit from a rethink. By way of example, in their seminar paper, (Fleeson & Jayawickreme, 2015) ask the following question:

The first test of Whole Trait Theory is whether the manifestations of the Big 5 have characteristics of something producible by social-cognitive mechanisms. This requires discovering what is described in a person when a trait level label is applied to him or her. When a person is described as moderately agreeable, for example, what does that mean about how agreeably he or she acts? (p.84)

This is suggesting that the evidence of any trait is a pattern of observable behaviour, as though traits were black boxes labelled ‘Agreeable’. This thesis considers what leads to such behaviour; what patterns of thinking-feeling and brain-neurology lead to responses to external stimuli. A much bigger, more complex system view. The argument against Trait theory presented here is that it is too simplistic. “Agreeable” discounts the attributes of the wider system and offers no criteria for evaluation of what “Agreeable” means to the individual (a matter for complexity, as mentioned in the literature review), a level meta-to the question in the paragraph above.

From a CDT perspective, the question that arises from Fleeson’s paragraph above is not the one put forward by the authors, but the following: When a person is described as moderately agreeable, to what extent is she aware of her agreeableness, and can she choose not to be agreeable in the moment? This goes one level above the trait question by determining her Intention, Awareness, Choice and Response in relation to Agreeableness. Although there are a number of more recent studies that touch on Traits as potentially developmental constructs (Durbin & Hicks, 2014; Roberts & Jackson, 2008), their explanation is that they combine both continuity and incremental change over a prolonged period for any meaningful changes (Roberts, Luo, Briley, Chow, Su & Hill, 2017; Roberts, 2006).

So far, no profile tool has begun the process of trait behaviour from a cognitive heuristic beginnings, sufficient to demonstrate that a person who is deliberate in her thinking has much more control over how they construct themselves in the moment than someone who is passively or emotionally reacting to situations, and thus has the potential for choice in their trait use. As mentioned in the Methodology (Chapter 2) such profile tools do not offer choice in their responses. It is therefore feasible to ask how would trait theory benefit from a new approach to understanding its origins and application in personality theory? This question forms the basis for potential future research utilising existing and established tools. Two examples are given below.


Personality testing is now a $500 million global industry and is growing steadily (Muldoon, 2020). The updated versions of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (1971) Step I and Step II assessments provide a standardised experience regardless of geographic location (Thompson, 2019). From its own literature, it purports to have developed the new Step II assessment using representative samples of the global population which makes it suitable for use by anyone in the world as it is based on a population sample of over 16,000 people. Finally, it uses new statistical techniques, including cutting-edge Latent Class Analysis, which is designed to group data into categories, thus better aligning with MBTI theory of dichotomies (Thompson, 2019). However, as discussed in chapter 2, the MBTI is generally regarded as artefactual amongst profile psychologists and has sustained constant scrutiny over the years (Stein and Swan, 2019; Pittenger, 20005; see Stromberg & Caswell, 2015 for reviews).

However, if it were to adopt the principles of Constructed Development Theory outlined in this thesis, it would be divisible by more robust facets and offer clients a developmental output.

MBTI could differentiate from other trait-based systems by offering the 16 categories of personality at each level of the Thinking Quotient scale (I or II), thus increasing their output potential by 400% and creating a far more robust system at the same time.

Figure 8.20: MBTI with TQ levels

Figure 8.41 illustrates the CDT principle in that the MBTI category definition of INTJ (for example) is a very different personality outcome at TQ2 than TQ5. It could also lead to the notion that INTJ is not accessible to TQ2 individuals, due to the nature of their thinking capacity. This would disrupt the MBTI system and potentially cause concern for proponents across the field as it exposes the limitations within, even with their new Step II system, as they are still only descriptions of traits, not actual origins of thinking and behaving. These limitations are very well documented in academia (Stein and Swan, 2019) and offering the four pillars of CDT as explored in the current thesis would ensure a more robust and rigorous outcome for the MBTI system.


Many of the issues arising out of the MBTI model, such as dividing people into categories, lack of validity and reliability have been corrected by the Big Five model (Muldoon, 2020). The MBTI is an indicator of personality type. It will tell you how likely you are to be an Extrovert, whereas the Big Five is trait-based and will tell you how much of an Extrovert you are. However, as was mentioned in the literature review, a personality test will not tell you anything new: it will only tell you what you tell it (Scott, 2020).

According to the Five Factor Model (FFM) of personality, there are five universal factors of personality (Goldberg, 1990). Since Bowler, Bowler & Philips (2009), this has been contested, especially from a position of cognitive complexity. The FFM is the best-known model of personality (Funder, 2001) and despite this popularity, the nature of the appropriateness has been continually debated (De Young, 2010; Srivastava, 2010). The actual number of factors is one of the most contested aspects of the research (see Simms, 2007; Bowler, et al., 2009). However, as was demonstrated throughout this thesis, from a Constructed Development perspective, the implications of social perception on the Big Five are interesting. Srivastava (2010) noted that it is impossible to separate measures of personality from the inaccuracies of human perception. The principle being that the FFM represents ‘dimensions of perceived personality’ (Saucier and Goldberg, 1996), and Fiske (1994) noted that the FFM is useful for understanding “how people perceive people” (p. 124) and is based on “interpretations or small generalizations from perceived behavior” (p. 123).

With this in mind, it would be interesting to extend the findings of study 5 and discern whether a high level of self-awareness manifests as a high level of ‘other-awareness’ in the sense of thinking and behaviour prediction. This begins with an issue for the FFM model in that Bowler, Bowler and Cope (2012) determined, rather unsurprisingly, that cognitive complexity has an impact on the FFM where those at the lower end of the complexity scale had a different personality structure to those at the higher end. Despite Bowler et al.’s (2012) study utilising the Construct Repertory Test by Bieri et al. (1966), these findings would be consistent with the findings of studies 3 to 5 in this thesis. It is for this reason that future research on OCEAN would be an interesting extension to the current research.

The research question might be: What impact could Constructed Development Theory have on the facets of OCEAN? The subsequent hypothesis could be that if the four pillars of CDT were introduced to the facets of OCEAN, then the output of any FFM profile system would have greater meaning due to the presence of a measure of Intention, Awareness and Choice within the system, which is currently missing from trait-based profile tools.

OCEAN is an acronym for the following personality traits:

  • Openness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extraversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism

These Big Five are then sub-divided into 31 further facets that are then the basis for questions that help a psychologist to determine how one thinks about their willingness to be ‘open to new experiences’, or how they ‘charge their batteries once exhausted by life’.

Whole Trait Theory (Fleeson & Jayawickreme, 2015) proposed that the social-cognitive mechanisms explain the Big Five grouping by virtue of accretion. In other words, the narrow traits (e.g. Activity, Assertiveness within Extroversion (see Figure 8.42)) become linked together and then psychologically influence each other and their container trait. It is argued here that this is not an explanation but a description, as has been the contention throughout this thesis. That is, the explanatory part of traits indeed does consist of countless narrow traits relating specific features of situations to specific behaviour reactions. However, these narrow traits accrete over time into broader traits. Accretion means that the narrow traits become linked together and influence each other psychologically.

It is these accepted definitions and behavioural outcomes that Constructed Development Theory will challenge in future work, which begins with a lack of choice, and ends with a prophetic action of imitation of the results (rather than being a true depiction of personality).  For example, a study from the University of Oregon found that the Big Five model does not apply among older populations in Western countries. What are the underlying reasons for this, if not an individual’s potentially greater Dynamic Intelligence as they have aged and gained experience? Further to this, a team of researchers in Bolivia found that personality traits did not cluster into the Big Five groupings when they surveyed members of a tribe of hunter-gatherers. If the Big Five traits are not consistent across different cultures, generations and geographies, then the test is not measuring “stable” human traits, and individuals are not truly being compared with the overall population. Nevertheless, the Big Five traits have been found in more than 50 countries around the world, meaning they can be seen as being relatively consistent across different cultures.

For the purposes of future research, building upon the findings within the current study, it is hypothesised that the facets of OCEAN are divisible by the facets of Constructed Development Theory and that the process of Dynamic Intelligence offers a more robust depiction of a person’s intentions as a driver of personality, which in turn offers a better definition of who and how they are in the world. In other words, their personality is a function of their construction of self in the world, based on their awareness of their constructed intention. As such, tools that profess to measure personality have, so far, failed to determine the level to which an individual is capable of constructing their personality, and to what degree certain facets of their personality are at choice.

Personality could thus be considered a function of one’s Constructed Development and better-measured by the four pillars: Intention, Awareness, Choice and Response, and by Dynamic Intelligence than systems that neither understand choice nor seek it by questioning thinking in the moment. Using Dynamic Intelligence as the foundation for measurement, ‘Conscientiousness’ thus becomes an intention. It would then be possible to measure an individual’s intentional Conscientiousness rather than simply implying they are conscientious. An example of the deconstruction of ‘Extraversion’ by Cognitive Intentions can be seen in Figure 8.42.

Figure 8.21: an example of the breakdown of OCEAN facets by CI’s

An alarming output of the OCEAN system is the obvious overlap of the facets of each trait when deconstructed using Cognitive Intentions. For example, in order to be “assertive” one needs to demonstrate ‘Forceful’. However, from a meaning-construction perspective, can one be assertive without being forceful? Further to this, how does the meaning change between an individual at 20 years of age, and when they reach 40 years of age? The argument is that the word’s meaning remains constant, and thus a question based on ‘Assertiveness’ has construct validity over time due to the same person using it in context each time.

However, the manner in which an individual uses ‘assertive’ behaviour is quantifiably different according to the results of Study 5 depending on their Thinking Quotient level. At TQ2, an assertive person is less-aware of their construction of self and the ramifications of their assertiveness than a person at TQ5. This affects how they are assertive, which is not interpreted by the OCEAN questionnaires. At TQ2, the individual is not assertive with choice: they are simply acting assertively in an habituated manner, which is tantamount to bullying in various contexts. This is also omitted by the traditional OCEAN questionnaires.

Thus, using the Thinking Quotient scale as a measure of Dynamic Intelligence within the OCEAN system, it can be determined how much of each facet is a choice. See Figure 8.43.

Figure 8.22: The TQ scale as applied to the facets of OCEAN

Existing trait-based questionnaires inform an individual their behaviour is represented by the Big Five factors in combination. With the addition of the four pillars of Constructed Development (Intention, Awareness, Choice and Response) to the existing measures of the Big Five, and the use of frequency-based personality measurement as mentioned previously, CDT can impact future research in the area and insert an element of cognitive awareness (and thus Intention) in the results of OCEAN questionnaires that has so far been overlooked.

Cognitive Development Framework

            Finally, the true test of a system is when it is pitted against an existing system and can either produce equivalent results or supersede the benchmark in its output. In the same way Loevinger (1976) used psychometrics to validate her work, it could be argued that the ultimate test of Constructed Development Theory, Dynamic Intelligence and the Thinking Quotient will be to validate the TQ output against Laske’s Cognitive Development Framework (Laske, 2015: p47) via a professor at Flanders University, Belgium, who has, in conversation with the researcher, agreed to help test the Thinking Quotient output.

            This will be achieved by the professor putting forward twelve interviewees whom he has taken through the CDF and has validated their cognitive complexity level (e.g. 3.2) based on Laske’s CDF. Each will undertake an Identity Compass profile and then the results will be fed through the Thinking Quotient system, and an alignment of their CDF Stage and their TQ score will be measured and compared.

            The hypothesis is that it will be possible to differentiate those CDF profiles at the higher end of Laske’s scale from the lower end based on their TQ scores. In other words, where someone scores 4.0 or above on Laske’s system, they would be expected to score higher on the TQ (4 or above), thus demonstrating that a more balanced awareness, or higher Dynamic Intelligence, is directly comparable to cognitive and social-emotional complexity. Should this be the case, it would offer support for the assertions made here that stage development does not necessarily exist, and that Dynamic Intelligence is intrinsic in vertical growth, with the facets of growth being those component Cognitive Intention combinations that form our Thinking Style.

Chapter Summary

If we take into account the findings of Chater, (2018) where he states that his studies demonstrate that we do not have any internal processing of information, biases or otherwise, the natural conclusion to this thesis is one of abject prediction. Further to this, if Chater’s findings are true, then they impact every field and discipline within psychology. Emotions do not exist (Feldman-Barrett, 2017), and thus EI does not exist. There is no complexity in our thinking by virtue of the lack of depth, and thus stage development does not exist. We cannot know our processing in the background, and even though we might try to “go inside” in order to meditate on the self-reflection, it is impossible to know the unconscious mind.

However, there is an element of construction in both Barrett’s and Chater’s work, as discussed, and it is this conscious or unconscious need to be consistent in our construction of self over time that Constructed Development Theory offers as a process and measure for this construction, utilising Cognitive Intentions as component parts of Barrett’s and Chater’s thinking. By understanding that there are fifty Cognitive Intentions as we undertake any endeavour, (domain-general) whether it be a post-graduate course in university, or a decision-making process in a large organisation, our Style of thinking can be deconstructed into specific combinations of Cognitive Intentions. This gives a contextual measure (domain-specific) of one’s capacity and allows for a more accurate prediction of behaviour. It is this measure that simultaneously unites and separates Constructed Development Theory with/from stage development.

It also allows us to focus in on domain-specific thinking by virtue of the combination of Cognitive Intentions employed by the individual in context. The theory of Constructed Development can thus bridge the gap between domain general and domain specific thinking.

The reframe on their meaning and combination into Thinking Styles is the measure of Dynamic Intelligence, as it allows us to know our awareness of our Cognitive Intentions in the moment. The greater our awareness of our intentions, the greater our Dynamic Intelligence. Chater (2019) states: “The search for meaning is the object of each cycle of thought; and finding meaning is about finding coherence.” (p.463). This is interpreted as support for the concept of Cognitive Intentions from a timeframe perspective. One searches for similar meaning over time in order to remain authentic, hence the creation and repeated use of Cognitive Intentions. Also, this is the misconception behind personality research, to which CDT contributes a new understanding.

Finally, it is not necessarily the Cognitive Intentions that are key to self-awareness, and not necessarily the building blocks of Constructed Development. If self-awareness is akin to cognitive complexity, as has been suggested here with the alignment to Kegan’s and Laske’s frameworks, then in essence, one could measure any facet of self-awareness and apply the four pillars of Constructed Development to the output in order to gauge an individual’s level of Dynamic Intelligence. Thus, the level to which one is self-aware becomes the function of Constructed Development, not the CI facet itself.

Thesis Conclusion

As was mentioned in the literature review, by ‘thought’, Descartes meant anything ‘marked by awareness or consciousness’ (principle I9). It is the very mental acts of thinking, doubting, believing, or sensing that proves one’s existence. The awareness that one is doing one of these things amounts to the awareness that one exists, because we cannot do these things without existing. Descartes’ intention was to prove we think and thus exist. It has been argued throughout this thesis that a more appropriate phrase might now be:

cogitandi mea intentio est, ergo sum

– ‘my thinking has intention, therefore I am’.

This thesis has developed over time to allow a new concept of thinking construction and awareness to emerge that goes some way to explaining how and why adults think and behave in a domain-general and a domain-specific way. It was also demonstrated that two people operating within the same environment can have two different Thinking Styles, resulting in very different behaviours. The emphasis has been on their capacity to be aware of their thinking and behaving in the moment, which has been shown to be measurable via the Thinking Quotient scale; and further to this, to be aware of their awareness of their thinking in the moment, which is a metacognition for adults. Propelled by the findings of Daniels (2010), whose clinical study found that “changes in thinking patterns would give rise to changes in behavioural patterns”, the relationship between thinking and behaving is thus dynamic and measurable.

This is a contribution to science and psychology in as much as adult metacognition has not been addressed before from the perspective of Intention, Awareness, Choice and Response (CDT). The combination of Cognitive Intentions has been shown to produce different levels of self-awareness, which manifests in different Thinking Styles and thus different outward behaviours (called here Dynamic Responsiveness). These outward behaviours have been shown to influence and impact an individual’s personality and offer a more robust measure of personality than current trait-based products.

Thinking Styles can be categorised and labelled on a scale that offers an explanation of Dynamic Responsiveness as a result of increased choice in one’s Cognitive Intention awareness. This scale was shown quantitatively in study 3 to be significant and thus supportive of the theory.

Where it was stated in the Literature Review (chapter 1): “… whereas Piaget’s [developmental] stages are perfectly accepted as descriptions of behaviour, they have no status as explanatory constructs.” (Brainerd, 1978) it has been argued throughout this thesis that the use of Cognitive Intentions and their combination into bespoke Thinking Styles has provided a developmental causation for differing behaviours at the various stages of the Thinking Quotient scale. With future research, the ideas presented here could impact child stage development enormously as researchers discover more about how a child (student or otherwise) constructs their thinking based on habituated Cognitive Intention use. This would be a new approach to understanding behaviour for children in context and might establish CDT as a foundational theory in the evolution of thinking and behaving going forward.

The qualitative data in study 5 further substantiated the theoretical underpinnings of the theory with the lived experiences of the interviewees supporting the construction of self based on the Cognitive Intention combinations, and the inherent awareness (or lack of) that resulted in an appropriate score on the Thinking Quotient scale. The aim of the Discussion chapter has been to emphasise the underlying theme throughout this thesis as levels of self-awareness and the resultant adult metacognition as the foundation for one’s cognitive development.

It is this concept of how we construct our thinking in the moment in order to build on our awareness as a springboard to cognitive development that this research has been shown to support. By researching those common denominators between similar psychological constructs found in the literature review and reframing their main aims, this study has combined elements of metacognition, stage development, general intelligence, epistemic philosophy and others, into a new umbrella conceptual framework that has emerged from the literature review and through the five studies that could be considered adult metacognition, and has been termed “Constructed Development Theory” due to the nature of the momentary awareness that separates it from traditional metacognition.

As discussed in chapter 8, if in the future, Constructed Development Theory is configurable into a discrete psychological field of study, then one might eventually become a Constructed Developmental Psychologist.