Individual Differences in Relational Reasoning

AbstractRelational processing has been linked to cognitive capacity measures, such as working memory and fluid intelligence. Sufficient capacity, however, does not ensure attention to relational structure, as propensity for relational processing may also be driven by an individual’s cognitive style. The current study took an individual-differences approach to investigate the prerequisites for relational processing. College students completed a battery of standardized tests of individual differences related to fluid intelligence and cognitive style, as well as a series of experimental tasks that require relational reasoning. Moderate correlations were obtained between relational processing and measures of cognitive capacity, while the influence of cognitive style was restricted to individuals with greater cognitive capacity. These results support the hypothesis that a capacity threshold exists, above which cognitive style impacts relational processing.

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