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Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Prof Jens Beckmann

Yu, Calvin, Beckmann, Jens F. & Birney, Damian P. (2019). Cognitive flexibility as a meta-competency / Flexibilidad cognitiva como meta-competencia. Estudios de Psicología 40(3): 563-584.

Author(s) from Durham


There exists a large body of research that has studied cognitive flexibility as an executive function assessed through shifting and set-switching tasks. This approach has been criticized as overly narrow and reductionist, thereby undermining the relevance of cognitive flexibility beyond tightly controlled cognitive tasks. In light of such limitations, we review the extant literature and reflect on the understanding of cognitive flexibility as (1) an cognitive approach to novelty processing and (2) as a conative disposition towards novelty. We present a theoretical model of cognitive flexibility as a meta-competency reflected in adaptive performance which emerges as a strategic response to novelty in dynamic environments. This meta-competency draws on a confluence of cognitive and conative variables that are actively and adaptively harnessed by an individual under specific circumstances.