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Issue 1 Online: 31 March 2023

The Two-Factor Structure of Cognitive Flexibility: Tempo of Switching and Overcoming of Prepotent Responses

pp. 1-12
First published on 25 January 2023 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0371-9
Aleksandra Różańska, Weronika Król, Jarosław Orzechowski, Aleksandra Gruszka
Corresponding author:

Aleksandra Różańska, Jagiellonian University, Institute of Psychology, Romana Ingardena 6, 30-060 Kraków, Poland.


Różańska, A., Król, W., Orzechowski, J., & Gruszka, A. (2023). The two-factor structure of cognitive flexibility: Tempo of switching and overcoming of prepotent responses. Advances in Cognitive Psychology, 19(1), 1-12.

The current study aimed to uncover the structure of common latent processes underlying the execution of several tasks that hypothetically measure spontaneous and adaptive cognitive flexibility, providing evidence for their convergent validity. A group of healthy volunteers (N = 121) completed two sets of tasks to assess spontaneous and adaptive cognitive flexibility. Spontaneous flexibility measures included a divergent thinking test (to assess fluency and flexibility of thinking) and a verbal fluency test. Adaptive flexibility measures involved a set-switching test as a measure of switch costs and an attentional set-shifting test as a measure of learned irrelevance and perseveration). A vocabulary knowledge test provided a proxy measure of crystallized intelligence. Hierarchical cluster analysis using Ward's method revealed the existence of two separate subgroups of variables. The first group comprised fluency and flexibility of thinking, crystallized intelligence, verbal fluency, and switch costs. The second group included attentional shift variables, that is, learned irrelevance and perseveration. We consider these results meaningful and indicative of two separate factors contributing to cognitive flexibility: (a) speed of switching and (b) overcoming of prepotent responses. We discuss the implications of our results for the assessment of cognitive flexibility.

Keywords: spontaneous cognitive, flexibility, adaptive cognitive flexibility, divergent thinking; taskswitching, attentional set-shifting

Tasks financed by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education on the basis of the contract no. 801/P-DUN/2018 out of the funds designed for activities promoting science: Preparation and editing of English versions of articles, Financing foreign Editors-in-Chief, Dissemination of publications and increasing their accessibility to a broad range of readers, Creation of the XML conversion platform to improve the access to the articles (2018-2019). Advances in Cognitive Psychology is co-financed by the Ministry of Education and Science (Ministerstwo Edukacji i Nauki) under the program "Rozwój czasopism naukowych," RCN/SN/0494/2021/1.

Zadania finansowane w ramach umowy 801/P-DUN/2018 ze środków Ministra Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego przeznaczonych na działalność upowszechniającą naukę: Finansowanie zagranicznych redaktorów naczelnych; Przygotowanie i edycja anglojęzycznych publikacji; Upowszechnianie publikacji i ułatwianie dostępu do nich szerokiemu gronu odbiorców; Utworzenie nowej platformy do udostępniania artykułów. Advances in Cognitive Psychology jest współfinansowane przez Ministerstwo Edukacji i Nauki w ramach programu "Rozwój czasopism naukowych," RCN/SN/0494/2021/1.