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A fourth learning style?
by Patrick Cristofaro on Aug 22, 2006 - 12:27 PM EDT

We know about visual, kinesthetic and auditory. But is there another?

If you've been around EWB for a while, then you're familiar with the three major leaning styles.

Visual - These are people who learn by seeing or visualising. They like to see an idea in their mind before they can understand it.
Auditory - These people are very keyed in to voice and sound. They need to hear and be able to verbalise a concept before they understand it.
Kinesthetic - People who are this type learn from feeling or experiencing. They learn by doing and relating things to how it makes they feel.

These three types seem to cover all the five senses (assuming that kinesthetic includes smell and taste as well as touch). But recently I've come across a fourth major learning style.

Christopher Howard is one of America's leading authorities on personal influence and effectiveness. He has dedicated his life to studying the greatest leaders of all time, and empowering others through this research. According to him, there is a fourth learning style that he says, interestingly enough, is the learning style that most scientists and engineers follow.

The current trend by experts like Christopher Howard seems to be an increasing preference towards including the internal dialogue as a sixth sense. If our internal thoughts are a way of sensing and understanding the world, then there must be a learning style associated with it.

The style is called auditory-digital. The other three learning styles are external sense based, but it seems that this fourth style is more of an internalised learning style. Auditory-digital learners deal with concepts, systems and models.

A visual learner may use language like "I can see the big picture" or "looks good to me." An auditory learner might say "sounds good" or "I hear you." Kinesthetic learners use words like "I want to grasp this idea" or "this feels right." The auditory-digital learner says things like "I understand the sky is blue" and "I sense this is correct." They create internalised systems of concepts and relations.

"Auditory digital is devoid of the senses. People with an auditory digital preference, will tend to:

* Have a need to make sense of the world, to figure things out, to understand.
* Talk to themselves and carry on conversations with you in their mind. Often they will say they remember discussing something with you, when you actually did not have the conversation. They did, however, in their mind!
* Learn by working things out in their mind.
* Not to be spontaneous, as they like to think things through.
* Have logic play a key role in the decision process as do facts and figures.
* Memorize by steps, procedures, sequences."

I don't know about you, but I talk to myself all the time. Sometimes I wonder who I'm talking to, because I use the second-person: "You know this isn't going to work. You should try something else." I also talk to other people who aren't around. I thought I was a total schitzo but apparently now I can justify myself by saying I'm auditory-digital.


To differentiate auditory from auditory-digital, the former is referred to as auditory-tonal.

I think EWB's love of systems, flow charts, diagrams, lists and concepts (just pick any page of the orange book) shows how many auditory-digital learners are secretly lurking amongst us.

If you'd like to figure out which learning style you have, you can take a test at to find out.


Jennifer Nafziger, Aug 23, 2006 - 5:01 PM EDT
Hey Patrick,

Interesting article... do you have a better link where you can take the test online and it is graded right there?

Knowing your type is important, but also understanding the type of people you are working/living with is also important. Different people deal with different situations very differently. It helps a lot when working as a tight team or in any relationship.