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Article

Working Memory, Fluid Reasoning, and Complex Problem Solving: Different Results Explained by the Brunswik Symmetry

1
Department of Psychology, University of Zurich, Binzmuehlestrasse 14/7, CH-8050 Zurich, Switzerland
2
Zurich Center for Neuroeconomics, Department of Economics, University of Zurich, Bluemlisalpstrasse 10, CH-8006 Zurich, Switzerland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 September 2020 / Revised: 18 December 2020 / Accepted: 10 January 2021 / Published: 21 January 2021
In order to investigate the nature of complex problem solving (CPS) within the nomological network of cognitive abilities, few studies have simultantiously considered working memory and intelligence, and results are inconsistent. The Brunswik symmetry principle was recently discussed as a possible explanation for the inconsistent findings because the operationalizations differed greatly between the studies. Following this assumption, 16 different combinations of operationalizations of working memory and fluid reasoning were examined in the present study (N = 152). Based on structural equation modeling with single-indicator latent variables (i.e., corrected for measurement error), it was found that working memory incrementally explained CPS variance above and beyond fluid reasoning in only 2 of 16 conditions. However, according to the Brunswik symmetry principle, both conditions can be interpreted as an asymmetrical (unfair) comparison, in which working memory was artificially favored over fluid reasoning. We conclude that there is little evidence that working memory plays a unique role in solving complex problems independent of fluid reasoning. Furthermore, the impact of the Brunswik symmetry principle was clearly demonstrated as the explained variance in CPS varied between 4 and 31%, depending on which operationalizations of working memory and fluid reasoning were considered. We argue that future studies investigating the interplay of cognitive abilities will benefit if the Brunswik principle is taken into account. View Full-Text
Keywords: Brunswik symmetry; bandwidth-fidelity dilemma; working memory; reasoning; complex problem solving; intelligence; measurement; structural equation modeling Brunswik symmetry; bandwidth-fidelity dilemma; working memory; reasoning; complex problem solving; intelligence; measurement; structural equation modeling
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MDPI and ACS Style

Kretzschmar, A.; Nebe, S. Working Memory, Fluid Reasoning, and Complex Problem Solving: Different Results Explained by the Brunswik Symmetry. J. Intell. 2021, 9, 5. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jintelligence9010005

AMA Style

Kretzschmar A, Nebe S. Working Memory, Fluid Reasoning, and Complex Problem Solving: Different Results Explained by the Brunswik Symmetry. Journal of Intelligence. 2021; 9(1):5. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jintelligence9010005

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kretzschmar, André, and Stephan Nebe. 2021. "Working Memory, Fluid Reasoning, and Complex Problem Solving: Different Results Explained by the Brunswik Symmetry" Journal of Intelligence 9, no. 1: 5. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jintelligence9010005

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