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Why You Need Cognitive Ability to Solve Complex Problems

Lead consultant at Test Partnership, Ben Schwencke, explains why you need cognitive ability to solve complex problems.

1:48 The power of cognitive ability in the workplace. Why do employees need it?
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Cognitive Ability and Complex Problem-solving.

Now, cognitive ability predicts performance in the workplace for two reasons.

One, it underpins a person's propensity to learn.

And two, it very much underpins a person's ability to solve complex problems.

Now, why would that be the case?

I believe there are at least three reasons why cognitive abilities strongly underpins complex problem-solving ability.

Firstly, people with higher cognitive ability are better able to work with information of all kinds: verbal, written, spoken, numerical; the more information you absorb, simply the better position you will be in to solve complex problems because you will understand the nature of the problem better.

Number two, you're better able to process it.

Once you've stored that information people with higher cognitive ability can manipulate it in their minds, a little bit more effectively, particularly using working memory.

And thirdly, cognitive ability strongly underpins the number of solutions you will be able to present for problems.

So people of lower cognitive ability probably will only be able to handle simpler solutions, and as a result, they will present fewer of them.

Whereas people with higher cognitive ability will present simple and complex problems representing a wider range of solutions at least some of which are more likely to be effective.

So in summary, cognitive ability influences the amount of information a person can retain and thus use for problem solving.

It influences your ability to process that information and influences the number of possible solutions that you can present to solve the problem.