Cognitive complexity is the psychological characteristic or variable that shows how complex or simple the frame and perceptual skill of a person are. It is the extent to which a person differentiates and integrates an event. A person who measures highly on cognitive complexity tends to observe gradations and subtle differences while persons with a less complex cognitive structure for the task does not.
Cognitive complexity can also refer to the number of mental structures an individual uses, how abstract they are and how they interact to shape his discernment or an individual difference variable linked with a wide range of communication skills and associated abilities.
Individuals with high cognitive complexity have the capacity to analyze a situation to discern various constituent elements and explore connections and possible relationships among the elements. These individuals think in a multidimensional way. The assumption of the complexity theory is that the more an event can be differentiated and parts considered in novel relationships, the more sophisticated the response and successful the solution. Whereas less complex individuals can be trained to understand a complicated set of detailed differentiations for a specific context, highly complex individuals are highly flexible in creating distinctions in new situations.
Individuals with high cognitive complexity are open to new information, attracted to other individuals of high complexity, highly flexibility, socially influential, problem solvers, strategic planners, highly creative, effective communicators and generally good leaders.