Individual differences in verbal cognitive style are associated with the effects of working memory load on distractor processing

Giorgio Fuggetta, Harvey Angus Barnes Lidstone-Lane, Marco Sandrini, Philip A. Duke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cognitive styles influence how individuals acquire knowledge and reason in everyday life. Here, we examined whether the degree of visual and verbal cognitive styles is related to distractor interference (a measure of distractor processing) with Working Memory (WM) load. To test this idea, we administered the Verbalizer-Visualizer Questionnaire (VVQ) to 105 participants who subsequently performed a delayed match-to-sample task that emphasised the number of items to be stored (capacity load, retaining 1 vs. 4 non-nameable or nameable objects) in the presence of a salient (yet task-irrelevant) singleton distractor matching or mismatching the sample during the retention interval. Results demonstrated that self-reported verbalizer ratings on the VVQ were significantly positively associated with behavioural measures of distractor interference with capacity load for non-nameable abstract shapes for response times. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that when visually presented with abstract shapes, those with a propensity toward the verbal style show a tendency to encode the stimuli in a verbal form. These findings suggest that the degree of encoding information adopting a verbal cognitive style has an important role in influencing the vulnerability to irrelevant distraction with working WM load across the general population.
Original languageEnglish
JournalVisual Cognition
Publication statusSubmitted - 23 Mar 2020

Cite this