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Does Priming Elicit Shifts in Cognitive Style?
Cognitive style has been primarily examined within the cross-cultural literature comparing varying patterns of cognitive processing across different geographic regions. However, there has been less work assessing how cognitive style might be malleable. While several studies have explored the ability to alter certain aspects of cognitive style, no study has looked at the malleability of cognitive style as a whole. The current study examined whether a brief prime affects cognitive style. The study found that those participants who received an interdependent (vs. independent) prime performed more accurately on a relational condition of a visual task that required perceiving features as more interdependent. Other aspects of cognitive style, such as one’s approach to classification and tolerance of uncertainty, were not shown to be significantly affected by the prime. These results demonstrate that a brief prime has the ability to affect visual perception such that those primed through evoking the relational self (vs. the individual self) more accurately perceived the relations between visual elements. The study suggests that one’s typical mode of processing the surrounding world – and thus one’s experience of it – is malleable in rapid and simple ways.