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Cognitive Complexity and Cognitive Flexibility

William A. Scott
Sociometry
Vol. 25, No. 4 (Dec., 1962), pp. 405-414
DOI: 10.2307/2785779
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2785779
Page Count: 10
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Cognitive Complexity and Cognitive Flexibility
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Abstract

Cognitive complexity is defined as the number of independent dimensions-worth of concepts the individual brings to bear in describing a particular domain of phenomena; it is assessed with a measure of information-yield based on an object-sorting task. Cognitive flexibility is defined as the readiness with which the person's concept system changes selectively in response to appropriate environmental stimuli; it is assessed by inviting the subject to expand the groups he has created on the original sorting task. In general, the greater a subject's cognitive complexity, (a) the greater is the likelihood that he will expand the groups, and (b) the greater is his tendency to gain information (i.e., dimensional complexity) by the expansion. The measure of dimensional complexity was found to be fairly stable over two different lists of objects; moreover, it was found to correlate with independent measures of knowledge about the object-domain.

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