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  1. #1

    Default Turning off Cognitive Complexity

    I know it has been mentioned before but only in passing. (I actually thought I posted this before, but could not find it with the Google search.)

    Cognitive Complexity

    Complexity refers to the extent to which an individual or organization differentiates and integrates an event. Differentiation is the number of distinctions or separate elements (i.e., factors, variables) into which an event is analyzed. Integration refers to the connections or relationships among these elements.

    Persons who are high in cognitive complexity are able to analyze (i.e., differentiate) a situation into many constituent elements, and then explore connections and potential relationships among the elements; they are multidimensional in their thinking. Complexity theory assumes that the more an event can be differentiated and the parts considered in novel relationships, the more refined the response and successful the solution. While less complex people can be taught a complex set of detailed distinctions for a specific context, high complexity people are very flexible in creating new distinctions in new situations.
    Research on complexity shows some of the following conclusions of relevance to managers:

    * Information: Complex people tend to be more open to new information, rely on their own integrative efforts than new information, seek more novel information, search across more categories of information, and are less externally information bound. They tend to take in more information and form more well rounded impressions than less complex persons.

    * Attraction: People of high complexity are attracted to each other and to less complex people, while people of lower complexity are usually attracted only to each other based on similar content (e.g., similar attitudes).

    * Flexibility: Complex persons are more flexible in thinking, and may demonstrate more fluency of ideas in creativity.

    * Social Influence: Less complex persons are more stable in attitudes, more prone to polarize on an issue, and less affected by environmental changes. However, attitude change may be easier when incongruent information is made highly salient. In contrast, highly complex persons change attitude more easily; presumable because they consider greater variety of information resulting in more moderate attitudes.

    * Problem Solving: Complex people tend to search for more different kinds of information when faced with a decision problem. They are often less certain after a decision, especially if verification is unavailable.

    * Strategic Planning: Complex individuals are better strategic planners due to consideration of more information, from more perspectives, and greater flexibility in considering alternatives. They usually develop more inclusive long range goals, consider wider range of implications, and develop more complex develop strategies.

    * Communication: Complex persons are more effective at a communication-dependent task. They are more resistant to persuasive attacks if inoculated (e.g., have been trained in counter arguments).

    * Creativity: Flexibly complex persons are able to generate more novel, unusual, and potentially remote views and actions.

    * Leadership: Leaders are generally more complex but must be able to be flexible across situations as the environment changes. They are also high integrators in which they are able to relate complex patterns of many elements.

    Greater complexity may not be helpful or useful under certain conditions:

    * When the person is unable to "turn off" complex perceiving, processing, or responding when it becomes inappropriate.

    * When the problem requires a rapid and simple response.

    * When the environment or organizational culture is incompatible with complexity.

    * When a high degree of openness does not permit closure on a decision.
    The last set of things is, imo, a large part of the issues I have.
    Part of me hates the idea that I should turn off cognitive complexity. However, I have to admit that my thought process has become incredibly complicated and unwieldy, making it hard for me to focus on particular tasks at hand. There is a good chance that it has become more of a liability than an asset. I believe it was an asset when i was younger, and my thought processes hadn't developed so many automatic tangents and facets.

    But now, I need to "downsize." My though process has become too "bureaucratic" and has too many connections across boundaries and has little hierarchy. Every thought brings up too many other thoughts, its hard to focus on anything.

    I have a decent take on the rapid response problem, and the closure problem (by themselves). Clinical decision making, is what I call it. That is knowing the best course of action based on current analysis, and taking action when required. Unfortunately, the other issues almost always means that my analysis is not as good as it was when I was younger and more cognitively simple.

    The main question is:
    What to do "[w]hen the environment or organizational culture is incompatible with complexity[?]"

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
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    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  2. #2
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    The fact that you're asking this question is probably evidence that you're having trouble turning it off... All I can say is, "Just don't think about it." Literally. Try to distance yourself from what you know, and look at the situation for what it is, not what it reminds you of. Does that make sense?

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    I know it's rather like putting out your own eyes, or lopping off your own feet to fit the Procrustean bed.

    Everyone says, "Just block it out..." but it's not quite that simple at least in terms of the discomfort involved. You have to learn to become comfortable with purposefully wearing blinders if the situation demands them, i.e., adding arbitrary closure, and refusing to second-guess your decision or fret over it.

    When the environment or organization is incompatible with complexity, either you learn to live with it and wear the blinders (to fit in and function more smoothly) or you find a new job or new living location or new relationship(s). This is based more on your personal priorities... which for complex people can of course be difficult to figure out.

    I don't know. You're right, when you're younger, your complexity is limited automatically by lack of development in certain areas. When you're an adult, complexity is no longer limited. What I found is that I struggled (and still do!) with the need for boundaries... and at a certain point, when the stress of not making a decision becomes too great, you just learn after awhile that some decisions don't need precision. It's easier / less stressful to just make a decision and implement it and not think more about it.

    There's also a growing sense of confidence in one's ability to compensate for a less-than-perfect decision. If I wear blinders and make a decision and it ends up being wrong or not quite what I hoped, I have the ability to react that that and change things as I go.

    Strategic thinkers are efficiency experts: They try to figure out everything ahead of time, and spit out the "best answer." So that no adjustment needs to be made after the decision is made. This is unrealistic, although still very useful of course. What is needed is a shift from strategic thinking into tactical thinking... once the best-fit course is set, you start moving rather than agonizing over the gray spots, and you trust that when each problem crops up that you could not compensate for in the strategy, you have the resources and wisdom and perseverance to deal with it... somehow... even if you're not yet sure how.
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  4. #4
    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    I know it has been mentioned before but only in passing. (I actually thought I posted this before, but could not find it with the Google search.)

    Cognitive Complexity



    The last set of things is, imo, a large part of the issues I have.
    Part of me hates the idea that I should turn off cognitive complexity. However, I have to admit that my thought process has become incredibly complicated and unwieldy, making it hard for me to focus on particular tasks at hand. There is a good chance that it has become more of a liability than an asset. I believe it was an asset when i was younger, and my thought processes hadn't developed so many automatic tangents and facets.

    But now, I need to "downsize." My though process has become too "bureaucratic" and has too many connections across boundaries and has little hierarchy. Every thought brings up too many other thoughts, its hard to focus on anything.

    I have a decent take on the rapid response problem, and the closure problem (by themselves). Clinical decision making, is what I call it. That is knowing the best course of action based on current analysis, and taking action when required. Unfortunately, the other issues almost always means that my analysis is not as good as it was when I was younger and more cognitively simple.

    The main question is:
    What to do "[w]hen the environment or organizational culture is incompatible with complexity[?]"
    This seems like a description of the various xNxP personality types. Your highlighted "weaknesses" are common among NP's. Basically the way to counter these weaknesses is to understand when a complex analysis is truly unnecessary. You can speed your response time in these situations, and focus your complex analysis on all of the other things that require it.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member ThatsWhatHeSaid's Avatar
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    Meditation is exactly about this, and I do it for the same reasons. During meditation, you learn to slow down your thinking and analytical mind. You start, as far as I an tell, by building your concentration and focusing your thoughts onto one source (like your breathe or a mantra) to prevent your mind from wandering off all the time. You eventually let your awareness take over, noticing thoughts as they arise in the background of your breathe, and surroundings and letting them go. You probably already have some activities that help you let go of your thinking (art, cooking, cleaning, chilling with friends). Meditation is about developing that way of non-thinking. In the school of Buddhism that I'm interested in (Kwan Um) the basic idea is that suffering (which you're complaining about) is caused by thinking. Before thinking, or "primary point," (whatever the shit that means) is the goal of meditation and is the source of freedom.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatsWhatHeSaid View Post
    Meditation is exactly about this, and I do it for the same reasons. During meditation, you learn to slow down your thinking and analytical mind. You start, as far as I an tell, by building your concentration and focusing your thoughts onto one source (like your breathe or a mantra) to prevent your mind from wandering off all the time. You eventually let your awareness take over, noticing thoughts as they arise in the background of your breathe, and surroundings and letting them go. You probably already have some activities that help you let go of your thinking (art, cooking, cleaning, chilling with friends). Meditation is about developing that way of non-thinking. In the school of Buddhism that I'm interested in (Kwan Um) the basic idea is that suffering (which you're complaining about) is caused by thinking. Before thinking, or "primary point," (whatever the shit that means) is the goal of meditation and is the source of freedom.
    I was actually just thinking about the thread that Jennifer start a long time ago:

    Buddhist "Mindfulness" -- Compatible with Ti?

    For me, the thinking itself doesn't cause pain. The pain comes from the pressure to deliver results from this thinking.

    I have tried mediation based on breath (Art of Living). It is relaxing at the moment. But like I said, the thoughts themselves don't cause me any pain. Just the pressure to make them yeild results. Otherwise, I am just day dreaming (not painful at all till someone wants me to stop and get to work).
    Meditation really gives me the same feeling as day-dreaming. Again, that is fine till someone wants me to stop and get to work.

    If only they taught a meditation technique that could be used while getting work done (I suppose that is "flow?").

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  7. #7
    Senior Member ThatsWhatHeSaid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    For me, the thinking itself doesn't cause pain. The pain comes from the pressure to deliver results from this thinking.
    Hm. That makes sense. The only thing is that if thinking is clouding your perception of reality, it's a problem regardless of how it feels. Also, are you sure that the daydreaming or thinking that doesn't have pressure REALLY has no pressure? I sometimes daydream when I'm bored or trying to understand something, improve it, or escape it. So, it all has a goal. When I'm really goal-less, I just listen and enjoy.

    I have tried mediation based on breath (Art of Living). It is relaxing at the moment. But like I said, the thoughts themselves don't cause me any pain. Just the pressure to make them yeild results. Otherwise, I am just day dreaming (not painful at all till someone wants me to stop and get to work).
    Meditation really gives me the same feeling as day-dreaming. Again, that is fine till someone wants me to stop and get to work.
    When I daydream, my thoughts are usually flowing from one place to the next. It's an Ne parade. Meditation is different. I know you said you get the same "feeling" which is why I'm asking if it's the same experiencec altogether, or just feeling.

    If only they taught a meditation technique that could be used while getting work done (I suppose that is "flow?").
    My teacher who I've met with twice so far, but is...absurdly cool, says that when you need your mind to do your work, but your effort in 100% with no distractions. Otherwise, keep a "don't know" mind.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatsWhatHeSaid View Post
    Hm. That makes sense. The only thing is that if thinking is clouding your perception of reality, it's a problem regardless of how it feels. Also, are you sure that the daydreaming or thinking that doesn't have pressure REALLY has no pressure? I sometimes daydream when I'm bored or trying to understand something, improve it, or escape it. So, it all has a goal. When I'm really goal-less, I just listen and enjoy.
    It may be that my thinking clouds my perception of reality. But it often clears it up as well. Even/especially the thinking/dreaming that has no purpose.

    Quote Originally Posted by ThatsWhatHeSaid View Post
    When I daydream, my thoughts are usually flowing from one place to the next. It's an Ne parade. Meditation is different. I know you said you get the same "feeling" which is why I'm asking if it's the same experiencec altogether, or just feeling.
    I suppose dreaming/thinking are not the right words. Maybe "wonderment" or "things falling into place." I don't know. It is hard to put into words.

    It may be a Ti paradise for me. But it has been so long that I have just allowed myself to sit and think like that, that it's hard for me to remember.

    Usually, my goof-off time is either very short lived, or a sort of "binge." I miss the more peaceful, non-directed contemplation I used to do as a kid.

    Now, I am either trying to solve a problem, or "binging," on thinking that is different from what I am taking a "break" from.

    Quote Originally Posted by ThatsWhatHeSaid View Post
    My teacher who I've met with twice so far, but is...absurdly cool, says that when you need your mind to do your work, but your effort in 100% with no distractions. Otherwise, keep a "don't know" mind.
    A "don't know" mind? Almost all my work requires using my mind.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  9. #9
    Senior Member Jive A Turkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    The main question is:
    What to do "[w]hen the environment or organizational culture is incompatible with complexity[?]"
    It sounds contradictory but I think the ability to embrace simplicity can be another layer of complexity. That's what the article started to get at. For example, if you hold spontaneity in high regard, use it to turn your attitude on a dime and make rapid decisions. Consider it part of your growth. You can simultaneously keep it simple and remain true to your intrinsic complexity.

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