Miserliness in human cognition: the interaction of detection, override and mindware

Thinking and Reasoning 24 (4):423-444 (2018)
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ABSTRACTHumans are cognitive misers because their basic tendency is to default to processing mechanisms of low computational expense. Such a tendency leads to suboptimal outcomes in certain types of hostile environments. The theoretical inferences made from correct and incorrect responding on heuristics and biases tasks have been overly simplified, however. The framework developed here traces the complexities inherent in these tasks by identifying five processing states that are possible in most heuristics and biases tasks. The framework also identifies three possible processing defects: inadequately learned mindware; failure to detect the necessity of overriding the miserly response; and failure to sustain the override process once initiated. An important insight gained from using the framework is that degree of mindware instantiation is strongly related to the probability of successful detection and override. Thus, errors on such tasks cannot be unambiguously attributed to miserly processing – and corre...



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