Exploring the influence of cognitive styles on people’s feedback-seeking patterns: what can educational practice learn from workplace contexts?

Eva Cools, Katleen De Stobbeleir, Kim Bellens, Dirk Buyens


This study examined the relationship between people’s cognitive styles and their feedback- seeking behaviours, using a sample of 457 employees from four different organisations (two Human Resources consulting companies and two Information Technology consulting firms) in Belgium. This way, we respond to repeated calls in the cognitive styles literature to link individuals’ cognitive style differences to observable behaviours. In addition, this study extends feedback-seeking literature by demonstrating that individual differences in cognitive styles have differential effects on people’s feedback-seeking patterns. Cognitive styles were measured by means of the Cognitive Style Indicator (CoSI; Cools and Van den Broeck, 2007), whereas an adapted version of the scale by Ashford and Tsui (1991) was used to assess people’s feedback- seeking behaviours. Generalised linear models (GLMs) were used to analyse the data. We found that people with a knowing style solely use self-appraisal to seek feedback, while planners also inquire feedback from their supervisors. People with a creating style tend to use a broad range of feedback-seeking patterns, involving both self-appraisal and monitoring and inquiry from diverse sources. Drawing on these findings, we argue that organisations and learning institutes alike should take into account individual cognitive profiles to enhance the learning process and outcomes for all and in this sense develop a lifelong learning attitude. Whereas feedback seeking is a well-acknowledged strategy in the workplace context to optimise one’s performance, the lifelong learning paradigm additionally demands a focus on feedback seeking in education to equip students with the necessary skills and competences to face today’s business needs.

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Editor-in-Chief: Prof Norbert Pachler
UCL Institute of Education, University College London
ISSN 1746-9082

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