Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Pers Soc Psychol. 2008 Nov;95(5):1029-44. doi: 10.1037/a0013336.

Two ways to be complex and why they matter: implications for attitude strength and lying.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812, USA.


Integrative complexity broadly measures the structural complexity of statements. This breadth, although beneficial in multiple ways, can potentially hamper the development of specific theories. In response, the authors developed a model of complex thinking, focusing on 2 different ways that people can be complex within the integrative complexity system and subsequently developed measurements of each of these 2 routes: Dialectical complexity focuses on a dialectical tension between 2 or more competing perspectives, whereas elaborative complexity focuses on complexly elaborating on 1 singular perspective. The authors posit that many variables have different effects on these 2 forms of complexity and subsequently test this idea in 2 different theoretical domains. In Studies 1a, 1b, and 2, the authors demonstrate that variables related to attitude strength (e.g., domain importance, extremism, domain accessibility) decrease dialectical complexity but increase elaborative complexity. In Study 3, the authors show that counterattitudinal lying decreases dialectical complexity but increases elaborative complexity, implicating a strategic (as opposed to a cognitive strain) view of the lying-complexity relationship. The authors argue that this dual demonstration across 2 different theoretical domains helps establish the utility of the new model and measurements as well as offer the potential to reconcile apparent conflicts in the area of cognitive complexity.

(c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for American Psychological Association
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk