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An experimental-differential investigation of cognitive complexity

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Author(s): DAMIAN P. BIRNEY | DAVID B. BOWMAN

Journal: Psychology Science Quarterly
ISSN 1866-6140

Volume: 51;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 449;
Date: 2009;
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Keywords: Complexity | relational complexity | fluid intelligence

ABSTRACT
Cognitive complexity as defined by differential and experimental traditions was explored to investigate the theoretical advantage and utility of relational complexity (RC) theory as a common framework for studying fluid cognitive functions. RC theory provides a domain general account of processing demand as a function of task complexity. In total, 142 participants completed two tasks in which RC was manipulated, and two tasks entailing manipulations of complexity derived from the differential psychology literature. A series of analyses indicated that, as expected, task manipulations influenced item difficulty. However, comparable changes in a psychometric index of complexity were not consistently observed. Active maintenance of information across multiple steps of the problem solving process, which entails strategic coordination of storage and processing that cannot be modelled under the RC framework was found to be an important component of cognitive complexity.
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