Problem Decomposability as a factor in complexity of the dimensional change card sort task
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According to cognitive complexity and control (CCC) theory complexity depends on number of levels of a hierarchy of rules. According to relational complexity (RC) theory complexity is a function of the number of related variables in the task, and the most difficult tasks are those in which there is a constraint on decomposition into simpler subtasks. One hundred and twenty, 3-6-year old children were tested on the standard dimensional change card sort (DCCS) task, or a modified version, the DecompDCCS, in which the dimensions could be decomposed into subtasks. The standard version requires two levels of a hierarchy to be processed, and is ternary relational according to RC theory, whereas the subtasks of the DecompDCCS are binary relational. The DecompDCCS was easier than the DCCS for 3-4 year-olds, but all 5-6 year-olds succeeded on both. The results indicate that decomposability into simpler subtasks, as suggested by RC theory, is a factor in difficulty of DCCS. The role of decomposability in other tasks that are persistently difficult for young children is discussed.