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The Complexity Construct in Political Psychology: Personological and Cognitive Approaches

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Measures of the cognitive complexity of leaders have been used to infer the flexibility, open-endedness, and information-orientation of their decision making in international and nonstate confrontations. At present, there are two major methods of assessment at a distance used in this context. One uses computer scoring to develop personality profiles of leaders the other uses a more labor- and time-intensive human scoring system to track changes in the targets thinking to predict the outcome of a particular confrontation. If computer scoring were able to make event-specific predictions, the savings in time and work would be substantial. This study compared the two systems to establish the following 1 whether the computer-scored system could replace human scoring and 2 using the example of the South Ossetia War between Georgia and Russia, which method was a better predictor of rising and falling tension. The data confirmed the relevance of integrative complexity measurement in a new context, that of an ongoing confrontation with changing levels of tension, up to and including war, between a major and a minor national power. The correlation between scores from the two methods was low at high levels of cognitive complexity, it was essentially zero. The human scoring of integrative complexity, which tracks changes in complexity over the duration of a particular event, was closely tied to the course of the confrontation. The computer scoring of cognitive complexity, which profiles complexity as a stable personality characteristic, was not. Thus, although computer scoring has significant advantages in cost and time, it does not accomplish the same goals. The data indicate that the negative trade-off between speed and accuracy is serious enough to opt for the more laborious human tasking if the goal is the prediction of international crisis outcome.

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  • Administration and Management
  • Government and Political Science
  • Psychology

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