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Five Skill Areas of an Auto Parts Sales Manager

Final Case Study

The human brain presents a complicated system that enables a person to process environmental stimuli and make predictions and judgments about reality based on this information. Using ten questions submitted in session three of the course, the author of this paper interviewed a 39-year-old man employed as an auto parts sales manager. This paper reports and evaluates the participant’s answers peculiar to five skill areas and offers improvement measures.

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Evaluation and Proposal

Perception, Sensation, and Attention

The interviewee’s answers to question one are indicative of his adequate divided attention cognitive skills. Participant 1 illustrated attention division by explaining a common situation when he is to provide individual consultations to clients present at the store while answering calls from other customers and suppliers. In such instances, he sorts all tasks by urgency, writes brief notes regarding the purpose of calls, and then proceeds with serving the client. This exemplifies appropriate overt divided attention skills, but participant 1 may still be lacking self-confidence in this regard, which increases reliance on explicit visual information (Goldstein, 2019). One strategy to further improve these skills might involve intensive dual-task training that would include frequent switching between two resource-consuming parallel activities (Bender et al., 2017). To some degree, work-related situations that the participant described the act as these exercises.

Next, the participant’s responses also reveal his ability to single out factors that might alter the perception of external stimuli. He managed to distinguish between five factors that change his perception of taste, color, and fragrance. Among the named factors were mood states, associations with pleasant or unpleasant memories or objects, general health, current weather, and even odor processing changes resulting from diseases, including COVID-19. One example covered the participant’s ability to spot minor differences between several editions of his favorite perfume after being exposed to both versions under the same circumstances. It illustrates adequate skills in change detection under distraction linked with both attention and sensory processing (Goldstein, 2019). During the conversation, participant 1 recollected purchasing a black T-shirt and then finding out that it was dark blue when he put it on with black trousers. Therefore, one knowledge improvement opportunity in his case would involve learning about optical illusions and how the surroundings affect color perception and judgment.

Short-Term/Everyday Memory

The participant employs a unique strategy to keep a sequence of unrelated digits in mind, which implies that his short-term memory skills are rather good. From his words, he would memorize the first one or two digits to be used as a memory anchor and document them on a piece of paper. Then, he would mentally repeat the rest of the sequence a few times until finding any patterns that facilitate memorization and continue repeating this information from time to time. The repetition technique indicates the participant’s intuitive but correct use of the rehearsal strategy, which involves the repetition of external stimuli to maintain their activity in short-term memory brain structures (Goldstein, 2019). The participant, however, reports challenges when having to perform such tasks without the opportunity to create notes, which might point to excessive reliance on visual information. One possible skill improvement strategy is combining moderate-intensity aerobic exercise with appropriate memorization tasks (Yamazaki et al., 2018). The effectiveness of this approach may vary depending on individual factors, ranging from the initial working memory capacity to respiratory health, so it has to be applied wisely.

The interviewee’s response regarding short-term memory failures also points to adequate performance in the working memory domain. Based on his answer, the instances of forgetting the purpose of entering the room or where he parked the car are relatively rare. He insists that such mistakes take place only in the presence of physical exhaustion, sleep deprivation, or physical unwellness. These unwanted external influences on the working memory capacity are easily understandable since fatigue significantly affects brain activity and may hinder the retention of information that is not considered particularly fascinating or interesting (Goldstein, 2019). Apart from proper self-care, one unusual opportunity for improvement and working memory failure prevention involves eliminating distractions during bedtime. In their true experimental study, He et al. (2020) demonstrate a causative link between the avoidance of mobile phone use thirty minutes before going to sleep and substantial improvements in working memory. This strategy can support proper memory skills in the participant’s case by improving sleep quality.

Long-Term Memory and Retrieval

The participant’s memory retrieval skills linked with episodic memory are average. He managed to recall some days of personal significance in his life one and three years ago. It included the days when he won a sports competition and when his wife got into an accident. Participant 1 explained that it was easy for him to recall the central event in both cases, but he could not remember experiences or interactions that preceded or followed it. From these answers, the interviewee displays appropriate mental time travel skills, which, however, does not guarantee the accuracy of retrieved memories (Goldstein, 2019). Based on the self-assessment question, the participant only recollects the events of the greatest personal significance, whereas other events that led to these experiences are difficult to keep in mind. To recent research on sex differences in episodic memory, men perform better in recollecting episodic memories connected with spatial characteristics (Asperholm et al., 2019). Therefore, one opportunity to improve memory retrieval might involve attempts to recall events concerning space-related information, such as the changing positional relationship of objects or people.

Next, semantic memory retrieval skills are rather good because of the participant’s lack of difficulties in recollecting certain facts from the school curriculum. He managed to recall the number of elements in the periodic table and explain the logic behind the arrangement of the elements. His responses regarding the number of countries and some countries’ capitals were correct for the most part. The accuracy of these answers points to the proper work of cognitive mechanisms involved in fact recollection without remembering the moment when the information was learned (Goldstein, 2019). Importantly, in semantic memory retrieval tasks, stress and subsequent cortisol production might lead to increased brain activity and better trivia test performance (Smith et al., 2019). Thus, to cause further skill improvement, the participant can pass general knowledge tests under mild stress, such as time pressure.

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Learning and Knowledge

The interviewee’s self-regulated learning (SRL) skills and knowledge about SRL appear to be average, which is why self-education might be critical. The participant was unaware of the concept of SRL and reported no attempts to use goal-setting or monitoring consciously. From his answers, he does not emphasize planning while learning and prefers to rely on his assertiveness and perseverance and engage in self-criticism in case of failures. Self-criticism in response to poor performance can be regarded as the administration of negative reinforcement. Attempts to critically assess one’s behavior and mode of thinking are also an example of metacognitive activities that are part of SRL (Azevedo & Gašević, 2019). To take SRL skills to a new level, he can be advised to engage in self-teaching. Particularly, he could acquire the skill of keeping track of his reactions to new educational contexts, ranging from purely physiological to motivational processes (Azevedo & Gašević, 2019). Overall, the interviewee’s high self-esteem and adequate attention skills promote the satisfactory perception and interpretation of multi-channel data, resulting in proportionate responses to stimuli and knowledge construction.

The interviewee demonstrates brilliant knowledge-related skills by using abstract thinking and metacognition to transfer knowledge to new contexts. When asked about takeaways from his work-related tasks, participant 1 named his improved ability to analyze the car as an extensive system with interrelated sub-systems and units designed for specific tasks. From his answers, the process for finding new uses for what he knows should include generalization, the identification of the core principle behind this knowledge, and thinking abstractly to spot analogies. In his example, the car was compared to the human body, so an understanding of the former as a system could help study human anatomy. The participant’s brain analyzes the objects of comparison and singles out similarities in both surface and structural features, thus doing the groundwork for analogical transfer solutions (Goldstein, 2019). Such skills could be improved using mental exercise with options that have no common surface characteristics.

Problem-Solving, Decisions, and Reasoning

The interviewee demonstrates the application of problem-solving and decision-making skills when choosing between two equally attractive courses of action. One of his examples refers to choosing between two perfumes if he likes both but can afford only one. Participant 1 would consider the price per ml, other products with a similar “mood” in his collection, manufacturers’ reputation, product reviews, and the feasibility of purchasing the products if he perceives them as seasonal. Using the study by Beilock and Carr, it can be assumed that the participant’s good working memory capacity creates a preference for complex problem-solving strategies, which offers an advantage in low-stress situations (Goldstein, 2019). One measure to ensure proper skill use in more pressuring situations is to take timed tests about the topic of interest.

The participant’s perspective on solving unexpected workplace issues reveals well-developed reasoning skills and reliance on deductive reasoning. As he explained, in a new situation, he would search for similarities between it and his previous experiences. Based on the general methods of work and protocols as premises, he would conclude to adapt the latter to new requirements. In deductive reasoning, coding and premise integration tasks cause increased activity in the parietal and frontal cortices, the caudate nuclei, and other subcortical structures (Wang et al., 2020). From the interviewee’s answers, moving from generalized statements to specific solutions is a preferred strategy, whereas the potential of inductive reasoning is underestimated. Therefore, mastering the art of reaching general conclusions from specific pieces of evidence and learning to overcome the availability heuristic that affects inductions and probability estimation could be recommended as an improvement opportunity.


To sum up, the way how individuals approach seemingly unimportant everyday tasks can reveal a lot about their cognitive skills and self-awareness. In the discussed case, the interviewee’s approaches to hypothetical tasks and situations demonstrate satisfactory skills in all involved domains. The largest opportunities for improvement exist in the learning domain and pertain to gaining an ability to control the learning environment and apply self-regulation skills.


Asperholm, M., Högman, N., Rafi, J., & Herlitz, A. (2019). What did you do yesterday? A meta-analysis of sex differences in episodic memory. Psychological Bulletin, 145(8), 785-821. Web.

Azevedo, R., & Gašević, D. (2019). Analyzing multimodal multichannel data about self-regulated learning with advanced learning technologies: Issues and challenges. Computers in Human Behavior, 96, 207-210. Web.

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Bender, A. D., Filmer, H. L., Naughtin, C. K., & Dux, P. E. (2017). Dynamic, continuous multitasking training leads to task-specific improvements but does not transfer across action selection tasks. NPJ Science of Learning, 2(1), 1-10. Web.

Goldstein, E. B. (2019). Cognitive psychology: Connecting mind, research, and everyday experience (5th ed.). Cengage Learning.

He, J. W., Tu, Z. H., Xiao, L., Su, T., & Tang, Y. X. (2020). Effect of restricting bedtime mobile phone use on sleep, arousal, mood, and working memory: A randomized pilot trial. PloS One, 15(2), e0228756. Web.

Smith, A. M., Hughes, G. I., Davis, F. C., & Thomas, A. K. (2019). Acute stress enhances general-knowledge semantic memory. Hormones and Behavior, 109, 38-43. Web.

Wang, L., Zhang, M., Zou, F., Wu, X., & Wang, Y. (2020). Deductive-reasoning brain networks: A coordinate-based meta-analysis of the neural signatures in deductive reasoning. Brain and Behavior, 10(12), e01853. Web.

Yamazaki, Y., Sato, D., Yamashiro, K., Tsubaki, A., Takehara, N., Uetake, Y., Nakano, S., & Maruyama, A. (2018). Inter-individual differences in working memory improvement after acute mild and moderate aerobic exercise. PloS One, 13(12), e0210053. Web.

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