1. How far do you think you can generalise
It’s a theory of thinking that incorporates
domain-general and domain-specific thinking. I think my studies show
there is scope for generalisation across contexts and ages and sex.
Studies 4 and 5 support this as the age range was diverse.
2. What are the theoretical underpinnings
of your work?
The theoretical underpinnings are
that we use heuristics/shortcuts/schemata (called Cognitive Intentions)
to construct our thinking in the moment. However, we are not aware of
these habituated Cognitive Intentions (Study 4) and this unawareness
leads to a limited choice in our responses in the moment (Study 5). It
is only with exposure to the relationship between these Cognitive
Intentions that we can begin to choose how we construct our thinking and
ourselves in the moment.
3. Explain your thesis in two minutes?
I was familiar with the Identity Compass profile
tool as I had been using it at Coventry University London on their High
Flyers programme for MBA Students. I had also been researching levels of
adult development by Kegan and Laske, which threw up all kinds of ideas
about thinking, complexity and cognition in adults. I knew that students
were very different in how they think as their IC profiles reflected
these differences. So I wanted to know if a student with a specific
combination of CI’s matched Kegan’s Stage 2 or 3 or 4 thinking and
behavioural profile. I also wanted to know if there was a difference
between the emotional and cognitive processing of the student and if the
IC could reflect this. That would then align my hypothesis with both
Kegan and Laske. So, I decided to research the differences in the
combinations of CI’s and to call these distinct combinations: Thinking
Styles. As I tentatively found this to be the case, I then decided to
investigate if those Thinking Styles were tantamount to differing stages
of development as per Kegan and Laske, and the Thinking Quotient was
created. I figured that we all know someone who is level 2, and they
behave a certain way. We might know someone who is level 4, and they
behave a different way. What I noticed was that the research said the
lower levels wouldn’t know they had habituated thinking styles, but my
experience said different. I wanted to know if it is possible to be
level 2 and still self-aware.
4. Why did you narrow your focus of enquiry
I honestly think that cognitive complexity is what
is missing from organisational thinking and educational thinking. The
problem I saw was that the methods used to determine complex thinking
were overly academic and reliant on humans to interpret the findings.
These are limitations that could be overcome with a new approach.
5. In what way is your thesis
No one has looked at using Cognitive Intentions and
the awareness of our relationship to them as a foundation for complex
thinking before. Extrapolating out from this, no one has used IACR to
look at existing Trait theory (or OCEAN) in order to discern something
more useful than a passing inference of personality. I think the whole
concept of personality can be rewritten once the ideas of deliberate
thinking are taken into account. Also, it states in the thesis that it
doesn’t have to be Cognitive Intentions and Thinking Styles if a
researcher or psychologist has a different measure of self-awareness.
But the resultant measure is still a measure of their Dynamic
• Adult Metacognition
• Zone of Dynamic Development
• The Development Onion
• Thinking Styles
• Cognitive Intentions linked to schemata
• The Thinking Quotient
• The Development Iceberg
• The DI Awareness Model
• The Four Pillars of Constructed Development
• The Constructed Development Grid
• Exploring Commons’ work on task complexity
• EI is a facet of DI when IACR are considered
6. What are the motivations for your
I read a friend’s PhD and thought it was
interesting. Then she told me about the process and I thought it wasn’t
for me. But then I realised that I needed it to hone my thinking. I
thought there must be a common denominator to all the psychology I have
read over the years. What is the one thing that unites all the theories?
I think that having the Dr title is recognition for one’s hard work, and
it resonates with various institutions that what I will be saying as
part of my development work isn’t simply my own thoughts and ideas (even
though they are), they are backed up by rigorous testing and both Quant
and Qual methods of validation. It’s a recognition of the methodology to
the title, and this gives credence to my system.
7. How did your research question emerge?
It began by asking about post-graduate student
thinking, and by virtue of the findings, it morphed into a larger
question on the control group dataset that then needed statistical
verification. Once verified as robust and significant, the question
again morphed into one of awareness of one’s self-awareness, and
finally, testing the research questions in a live interview for
qualitative verification. My final question morphed to a CDT perspective
from a DI perspective as my picture got bigger. I saw that DI was the
process of measuring CDT.
8. Which previous studies and researchers
influenced your work?
Otto Laske; Robert Kegan; Suzanne Cook-Greuter;
Jane Loevinger; Michael Commons; Michael Baschettes; Michael Moscolo;
Piaget; Vygotsky; Shelle Rose Charvet; Michael Hall; Bruner; and more…
9. Who or what was most influential on your
Otto Laske and Robert Kegan from a complexity
perspective. And thus cognitive complexity. Also, Cook-Grueter had some
excellent ideas, as did the literature on stage transition, even though
I found it to be lacking. It propelled me onwards to solve the issue I
saw for growth.
10. What is the area in which you wish to
Constructed Development Theory. Cognitive
Complexity. Levels of Adult Development. Thinking.
11. How did you maintain your objectivity
during the research process?
I allowed the data to inform my opinion of the
hypothesis. Hence why when it was non-significant in the first two
studies, I tested it against a control group of a large dataset that
then demonstrated a significant variance. In study 5, I tried to use
Grounded Theory but not sure I pulled it off. I think it was simply a
thematic analysis. My intentions were pure though. I wanted to remove
myself from the output of the interviews so I wouldn’t influence their
thinking in the moment. I also think that in order to be a high-level
Dynamic Intelligence thinker, one must be able to actively choose
objectivity. If I were unable to do this at choice, I would not be
living my research question.
12. How did you manage the data you
The data were literally in an Excel spreadsheet and
very easily managed. From an Ethics perspective, it was stored securely
with access only available to me. From an anonymous perspective, every
profile was anonymised and thus secure from any form of alignment to
real people. The 4th study was online and the data in the background was
secured by the web site’s servers, behind my login. The 5th study was
anonymised by ensuring no names were mentioned in the interviews, and
the transcriptions were completed by an outside company to ensure no
researcher bias. These were stored securely as per the ethics process
requirements. The audio files were deleted once the interviews had been
13. Why did you select this sample? Were
there any limitations to it?
The initial samples were all post-graduate
students. This does have its limitations, but not in this context as I
was specifically looking at PG student Thinking Styles. Study 3 was over
8,000 profiles and from all over the world. Very generalised and
multicultural, which might be a limitation in a specific context.
14. Talk us through how you analysed your
In study 2, the DV was close to normally
distributed according to the P-Plot and based on skewness and kurtosis
absolute values lower than 1.96, as well as based on the analysis of the
histogram. However, the overall regression model was nonsignificant, F
(5, 168) = 1.07, p = .38. Accordingly, none of the 5 cognitive
dimensions predicted the outcome variable TQ. For Study 3 I used an
initial exploratory factor analysis to determine how the data were
observed and as the data were not normally distributed, I used a
principle axis factoring method of FA. I wanted to know which CI’s had
the greatest (to least) effect on the TQ score (DV) using Kegan’s scale,
so I used a multiple linear regression with 5 dimensions as IV.
Bartlett’s Test of Sphericity (Bartlett, 1954) was statistically
significant (p < .001). The principal axis factoring method revealed
ten factors with eigenvalues greater than λ = 1.00, explaining 59.37% of
the variance. The results of the multiple regression analysis were that
the overall regression model was highly significant, explaining 20.2% of
the variance of the TQ. The five factors explained 47.29% of the
variance. Direct oblimin rotation was used, in order to get more
accurate results. All five cognitive dimensions predicted the TQ at 1%
(Dimension 1, Dimension 2, Dimension 3 and Dimension 4) or 3% level of
statistical significance (Dimension 5). I then wanted to know what
impact dimension 1 had on the TQ score as opposed to Dimension 3 (or 4
or 5). This was a multiple regression, again. This demonstrated
statistically that the values of each CI (its relationship with its
poler) impacted the TQ score, thus demonstrating that the TQ is real.
- When Dimension 1 increases for one percentage
point, the TQ score increases for .010
- When Dimension 2 increases for 1 point, TQ
increases for .007
- When Dimension 3 increases for 1 point, the TQ
decreases for .012
- when Dimension 4 increases for 1 level, TQ
becomes .003 lower
- if Dimension 5 increases by 1, the TQ increases
for only .001, but still significantly
Study 4: paired samples t-test on all thirteen
intentions revealed significant differences on subjective and objective
measurements for all intentions. The difference between the average TQ
scores was significant as well Overall, the scores were higher on
subjective than on objective measurement: the mean of the self-report
scores for the participants’ TQ was 3.12 and the mean for their IC
report was 3.25. This is not high, but it is significant. The difference
between a positive score and a negative score is an important
differentiator. Study 5: A hermeneutic research perspective was used to
understand the whole (TS) as a function of its constituent parts, and
obviously the parts (CI’s) as a function of the whole. Hermeneutic
phenomenology is focused on the subjective experience of individuals.
Five overarching themes and 20 subthemes emerged from the data. These
were designed to qualitatively reflect the quantitative data. The
results of the semi-structured interviews support the research question:
how self-aware are participants of their Thinking Style? in that They
mirror the suggestion in the data (study 3) that the participants are
not aware of their construction of self, using Cognitive Intentions (or
anything else). Where one knew they used an ‘Internal’ heuristic, this
was coded as ‘Internal’ and ‘Awareness’ and the opposite. The structure
of the interview was led by the questions and the results of the
self-report questionnaire. For example, where one interviewee had scored
50% for their self-report score, and 50% for their Identity Compass
score, they were asked specifically how they know they utilised that
Cognitive Intention precisely. A more deductive approach to coding was
necessary to convert the interview responses into a quantifiable form.
Hermeneutic-dialectics is the process by which meaning is ascertained
and then compared and contrasted in situations at the heart of a
constructivist enquiry. The hermeneutic-dialectic methodology aimed to
produce as sophisticated a construction as possible for each participant
and for all participants.
15. How did you choose your methodology?
Were there any constraints?
I used a Mixed-Methods approach as this places
value on the theoretical logic. Plus, I knew I wanted to try to validate
my thinking with both quantitative and qualitative studies to make the
result more robust. And as I was using an online questionnaire, the
first four studies are post-positivist because this is the most useful
approach to engage an online questionnaire to ‘allow the data to
emerge’. Post-Positivism and Constructivism. Measuring the objective
reality that occurs and developing numeric measures of observations is
paramount for positivists. From a quantitative perspective, this
research design is a postpositivist approach as human behaviour is not
an absolute, and thus one cannot be positive about our claims of
knowledge. Post-positivists approach human behaviour from a
deterministic perspective in that an outcome has a cause. This study was
therefore Constructivist in that the participants create their own
meaning in the way they map the world in which they operate, which is
contingent upon human interactions and transmitted in a social context.
The social context was academia in studies 1 and 2, and large
organisations in study 3. Individuals develop subjective meanings of
their experiences. The constructionist approach is aligned with
qualitative research. Social constructionists believe that we seek
understanding of the world around us, and we develop subjective meaning
of our experiences. Social constructionism makes no ontological claims
as it confines itself to the social construction of knowledge, thus
making only epistemological claims. Hermeneutic phenomenology is focused
on the subjective experience of individuals and groups, and
interpretation is all we have. Any attempt to describe something is also
an interpretative process. The focus of hermeneutic phenomenology is
towards illuminating unconscious details within experience that may be
habituated or taken for granted by the actor, with the aim of creating
meaning and understanding.
16. If you could start again, what would
you do differently?
I would ignore the first two studies and
interrogate the large data first, then try to profile 100 high level
managers and directors of large organisations to get a different
perspective from academic profiles. Then the 4th and 5th studies would
be similar, but with a different contextual starting point.
17. How did you decide what literature to
include in your literature review?
I knew cognitive complexity was key, so that meant
adult stage development. This naturally meant (in my eyes) that I start
with stage development, which is Piaget and children, in order to build
an argument for how stages build and change. I then needed to know what
the literature said about actual stage transition, and it was from here
that my argument grew deeper. I guessed we were constructing our
thinking so needed to look at Kelly and Constructivism. This included
identity. This helped my thinking on HOW we go about constructing
ourselves. I then needed to understand what intelligence is, and then
finally, what the academic literature is on meta-programmes. It’s not a
18. What were the ethical issues in
conducting this research?
The main ethical implications were regarding the
protection of the student data. However, these were accommodated by the
ethical processes laid down by CU. The data were stored securely on CU
servers with access only via my login. Interview transcripts and audio
files also came under ethical consideration. Each was made anonymous and
given a pseudonym in the thesis. The audio files were also deleted once
19. What steps have you taken to minimise
researcher bias in your work?
The important section of my
research was the data. I got an external expert to validate the data
interrogation in order to avoid any potential for bias in my statistics.
I allowed them to tell me what the data demonstrated, hence why the
first two studies were artefactual. I also used a positivism and network
analysis approach to allow the patterns to emerge and be tested.
However, I was looking for evidence of scales and measures, which
required some bias in that I knew from my 3rd study that too much
“External” meant something different to too much “Internal” so was aware
of this finding through studies 4 and 5, and in the writing of the
Discussion. Dynamic Intelligence is, in essence, a biased system based
on known criteria.
20. Did you encounter any problems with
applying your chosen method of analysis?
I wanted the ideas to emerge from the data, so it
was important to pick the right methodology for that to happen. I wanted
the interviews to produce themes that were true to the interviewees, not
the researcher, so I chose Grounded Theory. Upon reflection though, I
have used a Thematic Analysis, not GT.
21. How did your thinking develop as you
went through the research process?
I made more connections in places and with ideas
that I might not have made had I not gone through the PhD process. As
much as I hated the process, because I’m an Options person, I forced
myself to think in a style that was essentially alien to me. This came
out in my thesis as I was too linear sequential in my literature review,
but it was necessary for me to do this to counter my natural Thinking
Style. I even have a Development Onion to visualise my process
experience. I also ensured I made connections at progressively higher
levels of abstraction to test my thinking along the way. I needed to
live my theory by doing my theory in my research.
22. How do your findings support the
literature in this field?
• The factor analysis supports Piaget’s
Disequilibrium and Ashford’s Identicide.
• The FA also supports Piaget’s accommodation and
assimilation ideas (dimensions 1&3)
• Thinking Styles support Kegan and Laske’s work on
SE and C developmental stages.
• CDT bridges domain-specific and general thinking.
• CDT interventions support Palus&Drath’s
perspective on short term intervention validity.
• DI supports Dunn et al’s stretching of students’
perspective for cognitive growth.
• CDT offers a “what” for change regarding stage
transition. This is support.
23. How do your findings challenge the
literature in this field?
They challenge the idea that in
order to grow we must use a version of stages or scales. They challenge
the idea of stage transition. They might also challenge the literature
on child stage development, but this will need further research. The
best part is, it will hopefully challenge the ideas of personality
within and without awareness and thus the challenge the foundations of
trait theory. By adding IACR to traits, we get a whole new beast.
24. What aspect of your research did you
find the most interesting?
Messing with the
data. I loved Study 3 as the graph supported my hypothesis. The factor
analysis allowed me to map the findings to Piaget’s equilibrium and
disequilibrium with factor 1 and factor 3. This was a lightbulb moment.
The interviews. Getting the lived experiences of the interviewees and
cross validating their level of awareness, their awareness of their
self-awareness with my findings (albeit positive and supportive) was
very interesting because it also threw up questions for traditional
therapy and the process of psychological help for those people.
25. What are the strongest parts of your
Study 3 is the strongest part. It shows
quantitatively that the Thinking Quotient scale exists, and thus
Thinking Styles exist. The factor analysis shows that a tweak in one CI
impacts our overall Thinking Style (TQ). Study 5 is also very strong as
it validates the data in the lived experiences of the interviewees, and
counters some of the literature on stage development by showing that the
lower level thinker is capable of self-awareness. The research used qual
and quant methods to support the premise. I also think the final
argument that we construct everything is strong. I think I have managed
to pull together a convincing argument from a variety of sources, both
legacy theories and modern approaches. From Kelly to Chater to
Karmiloff-Smith and Feldman-Barrett.
26. Where did you go wrong? What did you
learn from it?
In study 1, I literally used the wrong line in the
SPSS table and it produced the wrong results. Luckily it was only for 32
lines of numbers, but had I not caught this and used the same mistake on
8,200 profiles in study 3, I would not be sitting here now. I learned to
get help where I needed help. I used the university’s doctoral experts
for all my endeavours, whether it was writing academically or looking at
the data. I changed my supervisory team three times. The final team was
the best team for my thinking. So I used them to make my thinking and
thesis stronger. Study 5’s Grounded Theory turned out to be a normal
27. Please describe your main findings in a
We construct everything! Our awareness of how and
why we do this is limited. People have different Thinking Styles. These
styles amount to different ‘levels’ on the Thinking Quotient scale. This
means they have different levels of self-awareness. People aren’t aware
of their use of Cognitive Intentions as integral facets of their
self-construction. With a little exposure to them, they can develop a
greater choice in their thinking and behaving. IACR.
28. What are the weakest parts of your
The use of CI’s as the only measure of
self-awareness in the moment. Another potential weakness is the need for
a scale to denote one’s Thinking Quotient. But everything needs a
measurement with meaning.
29. Which part of the process did you enjoy
the most? Why?
I enjoyed messing with the data, trying to find
what I could find within. The interviews were great too as it meant
talking to people and validating my thinking in the moment. 30. How have
you evaluated your work? By looking at the data and getting expert
opinion from a variety of experts. I’m confident in my thinking, but
there’s no harm in getting outside input.
31. How long do you expect your work to
There is no answer to this. I expect my work to
provoke further research and whether my ideas are superseded by more
erudite or functional theories is not the point, provided they were
originally provoked by my thinking. The idea of stage development and
transition becoming obsolete in favour of a more holistic approach to
complexity growth is something that could go on and on. The impact into
personality theory and child development could also ensure my work
remains current across differing contexts.
32. Who is your audience?
Everyone who thinks. Or who
thinks they think. Anyone interested in how they think. Academics,
universities, organisations, board members, line managers, students…
33. What are the practise implications of
I have contacted a number of people within various
fields to introduce them to the ideas within Constructed Development
Theory and highlighted where it could be useful. These fields include a
Doctorate programme in Business at Coventry, growing the thinking of the
doctoral students; a clinical psychologist in a Northampton hospital to
test the theory in a clinical context (Psychodynamic CDT); a book aimed
at the layperson that introduces the average Amazon reader to the
concepts of DI, CI’s and Thinking Styles. I would also like to see it
applied to organisational psychology and aligned with Jaques’ work.
34. How do you intend to share your
By telling everyone I meet about
my theory. Literally. And by publication of studies I already have in
the pipeline. And Routledge have accepted a book proposal for general
consumption. They want me to publish my main paper and then write one
chapter for further review. I have papers in mind for study 3, study 5
and trait-based research. As well as a longitudinal study on profile
changes, and finally, a new scale for the TQ to further differentiate it
from stage development.
35. How would you like this research to be
followed up and taken further?
By using my position within the university to
further my research on undergraduate students. By asking my supervisor
if I can borrow her fMRI machine to test the physical aspects of brain
performance at each stage of the TQ. I would also like other researchers
to take whatever they consider to be the facets of self-awareness and to
measure them in order to determine someone’s Dynamic Intelligence via a
different route to my own. I would also like the idea of Cognitive
Intentions as the foundation for self-awareness and construction to be
investigated in other contexts. How do Nigerian farmers construct their
thinking in context compared to Norwegian lumberjacks? How does a Trump
supporter construct his world view using CI’s and is he doing it within
awareness? If not, how aware does one have to be in order to vote for
someone else? And by virtue of being aware, does this presuppose one’s
voting direction? What are the cultural heuristics that specifically
contribute to our construction of our culture? I would like to look at
how we can choose to ignore these in favour of a more constructivist
36. What are you most proud of? Why?
The graph that shows Thinking
Styles at the various Thinking Quotient levels exists. That is the
culmination of my thinking in one graph. Also, the alignment of CI’s to
Piaget’s schemata and (dis)equilibrium as it cements them in psychology.
This hasn’t been done before. The Four Pillars of CDT as I now use them
everywhere! Also, small token sentences within the thesis have an
impact. P340 talks about Barrett’s perspective that we are all
architects of our experience, however, I argue that one cannot be the
architect of one’s Constructed Development if it is a repeated pattern
of thinking/behaving out of awareness. It is thus not a deliberate
intention but experiential evidence that produces the lack of choice, as
seen in study 5. Genius!!!
37. How has your work been received so far?
Conferences, publications etc? Very well. Where the
person can see the point of it, they recognise that the construction of
one’s thinking is crucial to our behaving and having a choice in this
construction is key to higher level thinking.
38. What are the research implications of
Stage development might need a rethink. Personality
might need a rethink. Trait theory might need a rethink. OCEAN might
need a rethink. MBTI might need to be disbanded completely. Social
identity theory. Maybe a new field of Psychodynamic CDT…
39. If your thesis were a hashtag, what
would it be?
#SelfConstructAware. #IAmSelfConstructing. #ConstructMeAtYourPeril.
40. What is the idea that binds your thesis
Constructed everything from an IACR perspective. If
one could reach my TQ10, then one would realise that every aspect of our
thinking is constructed, from the now to the context to the territory on
which we base our constructed map.
41. Which are the three most important
papers that relate to your thesis?
Measuring Hidden Dimensions by Laske. Stage
transition by Commons. Iva? Because it provided the main impetus for
research? Aidan for a similar reason? These are different reasons to the
intention of the question but more important to me.
42. What published work is closest to
yours? How is your work different?
This could be Cook-Greuter’s work. It’s different
due to IACR. Linder-Pelz?
43. What advice would you give to a
research student entering this area?
Come and talk to me first. Make sure your thinking
is Procedural and Detailed, as well as Difference. If you’re not happy
with your supervisory team, get rid of them sooner rather than thinking
things will get better.
44. What have you done that merits a PhD?
I have created a theory that offers an explanation
for how we unconsciously construct our thinking in the moment, how aware
we are of this and how at choice we might be to respond in the moment. I
have looked at self-awareness, cognition, heuristics, stages and more,
and discovered an underlying bridge between them that no one has looked
for previously. And found one. I have then created a tool that measures
an individual’s level of self-awareness. This tool did not exist on the
market before now. I have successfully aligned my theory with several
existing psychological theories. A PhD is supposed to be an original
contribution to knowledge. I think the fact that I have created my own
field with quant and qual support makes it worthy of a PhD.