Thursday, March 27, 2008

What is complex thinking?

"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."

From here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Cross-cultural study of cooperation and freeloaders

Here's a neat study that investigates how cultural background impacts social behavior. It looks at some of the same themes as my "Rise of Cooperation" toy you can download from the toolbar.

For the sake of readability (and controversy), I'm going to label a society that is democratic with a strong rule of law "advanced", while a less-democratic society with a perceived weak government is "primitive".

In advanced societies, the average person cooperated with strangers for the greater good. When a freeloader is revealed, the average person was willing to give up a small amount of their own resources to ensure that the freeloader was punished.

In primitive societies, the average person was willing to free-load; if punished, the freeloader would "revenge punish" whoever chose to punish them previously.

After repeated plays, the net accumulation of resources was much higher in the advanced societies as freeloading was reined-in.