Cognitive Style of Leveling-Sharpening
The crucial importance of cognitive style is that it offers a way to examine the processes of perceiving and interacting with the world in a much more articulated manner than was previously possible with unifactor models of intelligence, or even more sophisticated models of separate, developed abilities. It offers a more flexible, and probably a more appropriate/practice scheme for investigating learning success, differences and problems by focusing on task requirements and the possibility with their interacting with various approaches and styles of information processing.
-- Shipman and Shipman
Leveling and Sharpening as a cognitive style paradigm was first introduced in 1954 through the work of Holzman and Klein. The underlying principles suggest that all experiences leave significant memory traces from which future information processing by the individual can select for assimilation into forming new ideas and concepts. This memory selection process is rather consistent among individuals, with levelers selecting a great deal from previous memory for interaction with current experiences, and sharpeners selecting very little from memory traces. The concepts associated with various studies of this cognitive style can be found in psychoanalytical foundations.
Klien and associates have utilized the Squares Test, an instrument that was developed at the Menninger Foundation to identify the cognitive style relationship between individual characteristics labeled leveling and sharpening. Fitzgerald and Hong have described the Squares Test in this manner: