Categorisation, Deference and Cognitive Style


Despite the importance of psychological essentialism as an account of categorisation, it is unclear what import findings of individual difference have. The present study is designed to investigate individual differences in relation to deference, a key indicator of essentialist thought. This replicates previous findings of individual differences in deference, and demonstrates a strong association between deference and field dependence (Witkin et al., 1962). In spite of the status of field dependence as a cognitive style, this study finds it has highly localised influences in relation only to categorisations and categorisation-related actions that are partly social in nature. Implications for essentialism are discussed.

Back to Table of Contents