Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 17, Iss. 3, July, 2013, pp. 405-423
@2013 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


The Minimum Entropy Principle and Task Performance

Stephen J. Guastello, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
Hillary Gorin, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
Samuel Huschen, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
Natalie E. Peters, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
Megan Fabisch, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
Kirsten Poston,
Kelsey Weinberger,

Abstract: According to the minimum entropy principle, efficient cognitive performance is produced with a neurocognitive strategy that involves a minimum of degrees of freedom. Although high performance is often regarded as consistent performance as well, some variability in performance still remains which allows the person to adapt to changing goal conditions or fatigue. The present study investigated the connection between performance, entropy in performance, and four task-switching strategies. Fifty-one undergraduates performed 7 different computer-based cognitive tasks producing sets of 49 responses under instructional conditions requiring task quotas or no quotas. The temporal patterns of performance were analyzed using orbital decomposition to extract pattern types and lengths, which were then compared with regard to Shannon entropy, topological entropy, and overall performance. Task switching strategies from a previous study were available for the same participants as well. Results indicated that both topological entropy and Shannon entropy were negatively correlated with performance. Some task-switching strategies produced lower entropy in performance than others. Stepwise regression showed that the top three predictors of performance were Shannon entropy and arithmetic and spatial abilities. Additional implications for the prediction of work performance with cognitive ability measurements and the applicability of the minimum entropy principle to multidimensional performance criteria and team work are discussed.

Keywords: topological entropy, Shannon entropy, orbital decomposition, task switching, fatigue, performance