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Fluid Ability (Gf) and Complex Problem Solving (CPS)

Academic to Career Research Center, Research & Development, Educational Testing Service, Princeton, NJ 08541, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 June 2017 / Accepted: 10 July 2017 / Published: 13 July 2017
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Complex problem solving (CPS) has emerged over the past several decades as an important construct in education and in the workforce. We examine the relationship between CPS and general fluid ability (Gf) both conceptually and empirically. A review of definitions of the two factors, prototypical tasks, and the information processing analyses of performance on those tasks suggest considerable conceptual overlap. We review three definitions of CPS: a general definition emerging from the human problem solving literature; a more specialized definition from the “German School” emphasizing performance in many-variable microworlds, with high domain-knowledge requirements; and a third definition based on performance in Minimal Complex Systems (MCS), with fewer variables and reduced knowledge requirements. We find a correlation of 0.86 between expert ratings of the importance of CPS and Gf across 691 occupations in the O*NET database. We find evidence that employers value both Gf and CPS skills, but CPS skills more highly, even after controlling for the importance of domain knowledge. We suggest that this may be due to CPS requiring not just cognitive ability but additionally skill in applying that ability in domains. We suggest that a fruitful future direction is to explore the importance of domain knowledge in CPS. View Full-Text
Keywords: complex problem solving; general fluid ability; O*NET; minimal complexity systems; abilities; domain knowledge; Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) complex problem solving; general fluid ability; O*NET; minimal complexity systems; abilities; domain knowledge; Program for International Student Assessment (PISA)

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Kyllonen, P.; Anguiano Carrasco, C.; Kell, H.J. Fluid Ability (Gf) and Complex Problem Solving (CPS). J. Intell. 2017, 5, 28.

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