November 24, 2004

Cognitive complexity is correlated with native-immigrant group differences

This paper found that group differences between natives and immigrants in the Netherlands were correlated with cognitive complexity of the tasks performed: bigger differences for more cognitively complex tasks.

Personality and Individual Differences (Article in Press)

Immigrant-majority group differences on work-related measures: the case for cognitive complexity

Jan te Nijenhuis et al.


Comparisons on work-related measures of immigrants and majority group members in general result in less positive outcomes for immigrants. These findings are usually thought to be caused by various cultural factors. We hypothesized that the more cognitively complex the measures, the larger group differences become. The research sample consisted of 78 immigrant and 78 ethnic Dutch trainee truck drivers. For 23 work-related measures the correlation between standardized group differences and measures of cognitive complexity was r = .664 (p = .000). This strongly suggests that besides cultural factors individual differences in the ability to deal with cognitive complexity is an important factor in explaining group differences.


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