Chaotic Cognition: Principles and Applications

Chaotic Cognition: Principles and Applications

Chaotic Cognition: Principles and Applications

Chaotic Cognition: Principles and Applications


"Chaotic thinking has been largely misunderstood and undervalued. Contrary to popular belief, it is not random or haphazard, but is often highly creative and adaptive. By providing the first in-depth analysis of chaotic thinking, this book promotes a more general understanding and acceptance of this neglected cognitive style. By identifying various chaotic techniques, and explaining how they work, it also provides new and powerful methods for dealing with a variety of problems in everyday life, such as emergencies, economic crises, career changes, oppressive working environments, and failing relationships. Given its implications for both theory and practice, Chaotic Cognition will be of interest to psychologists working in a variety of areas (e.g., cognition, creativity, personality, and counseling), educators, business executives, and administrators." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


This book was originally conceived as a result of many spirited discussions between the two authors, one of whom is a cognitive scientist and ordered thinker, and the other a counselor and chaotic thinker. From the outset, it was obvious that we had markedly different views on human nature and life in general. Arguments for the importance of organizing and structuring one's life, planning for the future, and expressing ideas simply and directly were met with equally compelling, chaotic arguments for the importance of allowing structures to emerge naturally, living for the moment, and expressing ideas metaphorically.

Gradually, however, each of us began to move toward the other's perspective and to see the virtues of the other's thinking style. It was not that ordered thinking was inherently better or worse than chaotic thinking, but that both styles had their strengths and weaknesses. We also realized that both types of thinkers could benefit by learning about the other style. Ordered thinkers, for example, could make their plans less rigid by becoming more aware of immediate conditions and exigencies. Chaotic thinkers could temper their impulsiveness by thinking more about the consequences of their actions. Ideally, ordered and chaotic thinkers could mutually benefit one another.

Once we had explored the contrasting features of our own thinking styles, we began to notice similar contrasts in others. Although they might vary in extremes, most people could be seen as being predominantly ordered or chaotic in the way they conducted their lives. We also noticed that these same two styles were often depicted in novels and movies, with ordered and chaotic thinkers frequently misunderstanding one another. Eventually, we realized that one could make a general distinction between ordered and chaotic approaches to many things, such as generating ideas, developing relationships, managing employees, and running governments. It thus became apparent that this was a broad, general distinction that could be applied throughout modern society.

We also noted how the differences in our thinking styles reflected differences in our backgrounds. The ordered-thinking author had worked for many years in pursuit of career goals and carefully structured writing projects, and he identified with other ordered thinkers. The chaotic-thinking author had concentrated on . . .

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