The foundational principles of Constructed Development that underly the thinking behind the CDTi are complex and useful. They are included here so you can see the depth to which the Coaching 2.0 system is developed, and the resultant doctoral research that underpins our ideas.

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What is a Cognitive Intention and why is it important?

The standard definition of metacognition is one of learning strategies and a learning process requiring awareness of each to be successful in the classroom (Flavell, 1979). Cognitive Intentions are thus not metacognition as they offer no such educational process or strategy. However, they do offer a way of thinking about one’s thinking from an intention and awareness perspective once fed back to the participant. From a self-directed learning perspective, students must be able to assess their own knowledge relative to the research, which involves metacognitive knowledge (Hmelo et al, 1997). What metacognition does not offer, and was thus a differentiator for this research, was a definition of the intention behind an individual’s thinking that determined where they placed their attention. For example: if a person unconsciously used ‘Sameness’ as a heuristic, this impacted how they approached assignments in comparison to one who used ‘Difference’. This direction of intention (comparison) is not accounted for by developmental psychologists in the manner it is described here as a thinking shortcut.

The results of Dr Stevens’ research demonstrated the importance of an individual’s thinking when comparing the output of two individual Cognitive Intentions, such as ‘Internal’ and ‘External’. According to the literature, it was apparent that the Identity Compass, and other similar tools (Daniels, 2010) measured what they purported to measure: CI’s. However, it was evident that there is more to measure when one understands what a CI is and does. Arguably, it is also measuring a participant’s Intention and Awareness. Consequently, it was argued that the original label of “Meta-Programme” was a misnomer, and a more functional label for the fifty original Meta-Programmes uncovered by this research is: ‘Cognitive Intention’.

According to Gendron & Barrett, (2009) psychological states, behaviours and traits are not entities but events constructed out of a more basic set of processes, which are shaped by context. Feldman-Barrett, et al., (2010) goes further and states that mental events as well as behaviours are states that emerge from our immediate interactions with our environment. She calls this moment-by-moment interaction the context principle. By extension, one Cognitive Intention can serve as the context for another, which transpires as a ‘driver programmes’ in CDT. It is suggested here that Gendron and Barrett’s “more basic set of processes” are those Cognitive Intentions outlined in this Keynote resource, and it is one’s level of awareness of their relationship that guides our response in the moment. Feldman-Barrett could be suggesting that these processes are out of awareness, and thus unchangeable. However, a level of awareness would allow for a change in one’s response in the moment, offering a reprieve from Barrett’s context principle.

Feldman-Barrett, Mesquita & Smith, (2010) state that those observed functions of psychology, such as thoughts, feelings and actions, are not necessarily driven by single causes, but are the emergent results of multiple transactive processes. Dr Stevens argues that those transactive process are the fifty Cognitive Intentions: they precede the state that leads to the (unconscious) response in the moment.

In support of their use, it is argued that each individual Cognitive Intention is a heuristic; a shortcut for thinking and behaving in support of Piaget’s (1971) ‘schemata’. An example would be the use of stereotypes. A stereotype is a cognitive function that serves as a predictor for an individual’s future behaviour (Snyder, Tanke and Berscheid, 1977) based on prior thoughts and experience about a particular thing or group, albeit, an overly-extended schema. From a dual process perspective (Evans, 1975), System 1 appears to be the self-regulator of reactive thought, forming quick conclusions and allowing for one to act upon impulses within the context of reality on a simpler level. Whereas System 2 is in control of deeper, less compulsive ways of filtering information, this could describe an unconscious heuristic. Many people do not monitor the output of their System 1 reasoning, and they could lack the competence to switch to more effective methods if they did (Stanovich & West, 2000). It could also be that System 1 thinking is a shortcut of the System 2 heuristics. Kahneman, (2011) states that passing judgement too quickly reinforces what the self believes as true: ‘jumping to conclusions’ bias, assumptions, and biases about what is being assessed. This points to, albeit negatively in this example, ‘Internal’ being a potential bias in one’s thinking, and a shortcut to an internal locus of evaluation. 

An alternate perspective on Cognitive Intentions is their potential for conforming to the definition of a perceptual set. A perceptual set refers to a predisposition to perceive things in a certain way (Bruner, 1990). In other words, we often tend to notice only certain aspects of an object or situation whilst ignoring other details. This noticing directly aligns to the Cognitive Intentions of ‘Sameness’ and ‘Difference’, whereby it is explained by Maus (2011) and Hall (2005) that an individual initially filters for difference in general. What Hall and Maus do not explain is whether an individual is capable of performing this ‘noticing’ with a conscious intention, which further supports the need for a redefinition with a deeper understanding of what a Cognitive Intention pair achieves from an awareness perspective.

Dr Stevens showed that the combination of Cognitive Intentions, when understood in the context of heuristics and schemata, offer a deeper understanding of an individual’s deconstruction of their Thinking Style. However, this is not metacognition as Stevens’ research also suggests that participants are not aware enough of their cognition to be able to control and monitor it in the traditional sense, but more from a complexity perspective (Markman, 1977).

Perceptual experience is about our beliefs about our environment, in that it helps to justify them, and represent our world around us in what we see and hear (Schellenberg, 2014). There are three questions that have motivated the study of perceptual experience that help us to deconstruct this: the Epistemology-question asks how our perceptual experience justifies our beliefs and yields knowledge of our environment given that perceptual experience can be misleading? The Mind-question asks whether perceptual experience brings about conscious mental states in which our environment appears a certain way to us. This is what Korzybski (1951) meant when he said: ‘the map is not the territory’. Finally, the Information question asks how does a sensory system convert a myriad of informational input into mental representations that we then attribute to the world?

With these three questions in mind, it is apparent that the answer is the use of a cognitive heuristic based on and reinforced by our past experience of our environment. The third question hints towards a Constructivist perspective, which is the thread throughout CDT, and which points to the use of Cognitive Intentions as the method of thinking construction, employed as heuristics. 

Stevens goes further and suggests that the Thinking Quotient score obtained by each participant (e.g. TQ6), is a scaled measure of their self-awareness, as it also pertains to the level of awareness of the participant’s use of the fifty Cognitive Intentions. This awareness is brought into the individual’s consciousness typically in the feedback process. This was tested in a number of qualitative studies by Dr Stevens.

Finally, as the data suggests there is scope for a change in one’s habituated thinking patterns, with the use of Cognitive Intentions as the guide for this deconstruction, there is a suggestion that should the Thinking Quotient uncover a scale of self-awareness, then with the aid of the Cognitive Intentions, a guided reconstruction is possible that would affect an individual’s thinking style, which is a more constructed development approach.

What was inferred from the results of the factor analysis, however, was an intention in the thinking of the post-graduate students to maximise their experience within academia based on the prominence of Cognitive Intentions such as ‘Information’, ‘Activity’, ‘Achievement’, ‘Towards’ and so on. Given the description of each (in Appendix 2), the intention behind their use was mirrored in both the pilot study and the current study. What is missing, and was pointed out in the literature review, is the awareness of the students that they are actually utilising a shortcut in their thinking in the first place, the lack of choice one has from this unaware state of mind, and finally the individual’s inability or capacity to respond in the moment according to the choices this awareness would offer. As it stands, there was a suggestion that post-graduate students lack the capacity to respond in the moment based on their habituated Cognitive Intention combinations.

Names create meaning, yet we must name our observable phenomena. However, we must do it intelligently to avoid essentialism as a matter of course. The pervasiveness of essentialism has shaped Western psychology, where models of the mind have become fragmented due to the assumption by psychologists that emotion, memory, the self, attitudes, personality traits and more, are different entities with distinct organising properties and causes (Bruner, 1990). By concentrating on a singular mental state or behaviour, it is easy to miss its embeddedness in the larger system. From a Constructed Development perspective, this would be to focus on a single Cognitive Intention and miss the awareness process by which all fifty are measured: Dynamic Intelligence. 

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What are Thinking Styles?

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 each of us. This style also manifests as a behavioural response in the moment, with or without awareness. Dr Stevens supported this perspective with a factor analysis on a large dataset of 8,200 profiles. A further qualitative study supported this quantitative study’s findings in the lived experiences of the interviewees who demonstrated behaviours based on CI awareness.

Dynamic Intelligence is concerned with the combination of Cognitive Intentions and initially, alignment to Kegan’s levels of adult development. This raises a number of important questions from an evidentiary perspective: 

  1. does one CI influence the other more significantly? 
  2. If so, how does a combination of CI’s influence the thinking of the individual differently from an alternate combination? 
  3. Is a Thinking Style indicative of a single level of capacity and capability as per Laske’s (2009) Cognitive Development Framework, or 
  4. can a thinking style have multiple levels within? Conversely, 
  5. 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 8.23 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.

With this concept in mind, the Thinking Style can be visualised as in Figure 8.23. 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.

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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 could 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 8.34: Table of Cognitive Intentions broken down by SE or C Intention

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). 

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.

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.

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Stage Transition

Research on the movement between stages focuses on two things: transition or transformation. ‘Transformation’ describes the qualitative difference between orders of consciousness in terms of meaning-making and how we move between them (Kegan, 1982), or in terms of Loevinger & Blasi, (1976), from one level of ego development to the next. ‘Transition’ is the incremental movement between stages and is explained in the Model of Hierarchical Complexity (Ross, 2008). 

However, there is no reason to use stages as the de facto measure. It would be equally valid to ask about developmental phases, levels, cycles, layers, seasons and so on (Levinson, 1986). A number of psychologists use levels as their preferred measure: Fischer’s (1980) theory of thirteen hierarchical skills, Turiel’s (1983) social domains approach has seven major levels, and Karmiloff-Smith’s (1992) model of representational re-descriptions are three such examples. However, it is questionable as to whether another name for what is essentially a heuristic for the mapping, not necessarily the explaining of developmental change, is any more useful or clear. If we consider the many adult developmental psychologists and researchers who extol the use of stages to demonstrate their theories, a pattern arises in each theoretical position in that one theory apes another, without deviating from an accepted norm. There is an element of isomorphism in Table 1.3, which shows this alignment. 

From Table 1.3, one can see the convention for naming and categorising stages of adult development. However, this does not immediately give rise to the process of growth, the actions of development and the constituent parts of that process. What this review is interested in is the transition between these stages, an individual’s awareness of this growth, and the process of growth in one’s thinking that propels cognition vertically. 

The fact that many developmental theories depend on stages to define their progress in differing fields lends support to the concept of stages existing, despite the variety of meanings made. It could be argued then, that the position of meaning-making could be a potential problem for children and adults alike when referring to a stage. By extension, the idea of stages is dominant in development research because stages are what is researched. A tautological argument being semantically argued for whilst testing for it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as we inevitably find what we seek. 

The study of the mechanisms of change have been undertaken since the early 1980’s by such psychologists as Keen (2011), Kuhn & Ho (1980) and Kuhn & Phelps (1982) who used the methods of microgenetics to observe the evolution of finely-tuned behaviours over time. The fact that their processes involved observation suggests a level of experimenter input that is susceptible to the observer effect. 

There is a long history of the difficulty of demonstrating empirically the existence of developmental stages (Commons, Trudeau, Stein, Richards and Krause, 1998). Traditional stage theory has been criticised for failing to demonstrate that stages exist as more than random descriptions of observations of sequential changes in human behaviour (Boom, 2011; Cavanaugh & Blanchard-Fields, 2018; Kohlberg & Armon, 1984; Gibbs, 1977, 1979; Broughton, 1984). Fischer, Hand, and Russell (1984), along with Case (1985) and Schneider, Niklas and Schmiedeler (2014), have demonstrated the problems of mistaking developmental sequences of behaviour with traditional concepts of stage development in the search for empirical evidence. Sequential acquisition of behaviour can obviously be demonstrated empirically, even though it is still effectively only a snapshot. However, Campbell and Richie (1983) and Destrebecqz & Cleeremans (2001) have suggested that an empirical demonstration of a stage would involve a qualitative difference between one stage and the next. This has proven more elusive (Commons, et al. 1998).