Cognitive complexity describes cognition along a simplicity-complexity axis. It is the subject of academic study in fields including personal construct psychology, organisational theory and human–computer interaction.
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Cognitive complexity is a psychological characteristic or psychological variable that indicates how complex or simple is the frame and perceptual skill of a person. A person who is measured high on cognitive complexity tends to perceive nuances and subtle differences which a person with a lower measure, indicating a less complex cognitive structure for the task or activity, does not.
Cognitive complexity can have various meanings:
- the number of mental structures we use, how abstract they are, and how elaborately they interact to shape our perceptions.
- "an individual-difference variable associated with a broad range of communication skills and related abilities ... [which] indexes the degree of differentiation, articulation, and integration within a cognitive system".
In computer science
In artificial intelligence
In an attempt to explain how humans perceive relevance, cognitive complexity is defined as an extension of the notion of Kolmogorov complexity. It amounts to the length of the shortest description available to the observer. Here is an example : Individuating a particular Inuit woman among one hundred people is simpler in a village in Congo rather than in an Inuit village.
Cognitive complexity is related to probability (see Simplicity theory): situations are cognitively improbable if they are simpler to describe than to generate. Human individuals attach two complexity values to events:
- description complexity (see above definition)
- generation complexity: the size of the minimum set of parameter values than the 'world' (as imagined by the observer) needs to generate the event.
To 'generate' an event such as an encounter with an Inuit woman in Congo, one must add up the complexity of each event in the causal chain that brought her there. The significant gap between both complexities (hard to produce, easy to describe) makes the encounter improbable and thus narratable.
- Cognitive dimensions of notations
- Cognitive ergonomics
- General semantics
- Language of thought
- Learning theory (education)
- Simplicity theory
- Social complexity
- Bell, R.C. (2004-02-14). "Cognitive complexity". The Internet Encyclopaedia of Personal Construct Psychology. The Psychology of Personal Constructs. Retrieved 2010-04-30.
- Villanova University. "Analyzing Organizations Through Cognitive Complexity". Retrieved 29 April 2010.
- Rauterberg, Matthias (1996). "How to Measure Cognitive Complexity in Human–Computer Interaction". In Robert Trappl(ed). Proceedings of the Thirteenth European Meeting on Cybernetics and Systems Research. Thirteenth European Meeting on Cybernetics and Systems Research II. University of Vienna, Austria. pp. 815–820. ISBN 3-85206-133-4.
- Burleson, B.R., & Caplan, S.E. (1998), "Cognitive complexity". In J.C. McCroskey, J.A. Daly, M.M. Martin, & M.J. Beatty (Eds.), Communication and personality: Trait perspectives (233–286). Creskill, NJ: Hampton Press
- Thomas, John C.; Richards, John T. (2008). "Achieving Psychological Simplicity: Methods And Measures To Reduce Cognitive Complexity". In Sears, Andrew; Jacko, Julie A. The human–computer interaction handbook: Fundamentals, Evolving Technologies and Emerging Applications (2nd ed.). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. pp. 498–507. ISBN 978-0-8058-5870-9.
- See Robert Hooijberg, Behavioral complexity and managerial effectiveness: a new perspective on managerial leadership, University of Michigan, 1992; Daniel R. Denison, Robert Hooijberg, Robert E. Quinn, Toward a theory of behavioral complexity in managerial leadership, University of Michigan, September 1993
- Bell, R.C. (2004-02-14). "Cognitive complexity". The Internet Encyclopaedia of Personal Construct Psychology. The Psychology of Personal Constructs. Retrieved 2007-02-20.
- Bryan, S. (2002). "Cognitive complexity, transformational leadership, and organizational outcomes". Dissertation in the Department of Communication Studies, Graduate Faculty of the Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College.
- Chater, N. (1999). The search for simplicity: A fundamental cognitive principle? The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 52 (A), 273-302.
- Dobosh, M.A. (2005). "The impact of cognitive complexity and self-monitoring on leadership emergence". Master's Thesis in the Department of Communication, Graduate Faculty of the University of Delaware.
- McDaniel, E., & Lawrence, C. (1990). "Levels of cognitive complexity: An approach to the measurement of thinking." New York: Springer-Verlag.
- Lee, J., Truex, D.P. (2000). "Cognitive complexity and methodical training: enhancing or suppressing creativity". Proceedings of the 33rd Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences.
- Sanders, T.J.M. "Coherence, causality and cognitive complexity in discourse".
- Streufert, S., Pogash, R.M., Piasecki, M.T. (1987). "Training for cognitive complexity". ARI Research Note 87-20, AD-A181828.
- Linville, Patricia W. Linville (1985). "Self-Complexity and Affective Extremity: Don't Put All of Your Eggs in One Cognitive Basket". Social Cognition 3: 94–120. doi:10.1521/soco.19188.8.131.52.
- David A. Snowdon; Susan J. Kemper; James A. Mortimer (1996). "Linguistic Ability in Early Life and Cognitive Function and Alzheimer's Disease in Late LifeFindings From the Nun Study". JAMA 275 (7): 528–532. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530310034029. PMID 8606473.
- A tutorial on Simplicity Theory (Simplicity, Complexity, Unexpectedness, Cognition, Probability, Information)
- COGNITIVE COMPLEXITY CLASSIFICATION OF FCATTEST ITEMS
- Cognitive Complexity/Depth of Knowledge Rating
- ANALYZING ORGANIZATIONS THROUGH COGNITIVE COMPLEXITY
- Complexity as a Personality Dimension