An analytic cognitive style denotes a propensity to set aside highly salient intuitions when engaging in problem solving. We assess the hypothesis that an analytic cognitive style is associated with a history of questioning, altering, and rejecting supernatural claims, both religious and paranormal. In two studies, we examined associations of God beliefs, religious engagement, conventional religious beliefs and paranormal beliefs with performance measures of cognitive ability and analytic cognitive style. An analytic cognitive style negatively predicted both religious and paranormal beliefs (...) when controlling for cognitive ability as well as religious engagement, sex, age, political ideology, and education. Participants more willing to engage in analytic reasoning were less likely to endorse supernatural beliefs. Further, an association between analytic cognitive style and religious engagement was mediated by religious beliefs, suggesting that an analytic cognitive style negatively affects religious engagement via lower acceptance of conventional religious beliefs. Results for types of God belief indicate that the association between an analytic cognitive style and God beliefs is more nuanced than mere acceptance and rejection, but also includes adopting less conventional God beliefs, such as Pantheism or Deism. Our data are consistent with the idea that two people who share the same cognitive ability, education, political ideology, sex, age and level of religious engagement can acquire very different sets of beliefs about the world if they differ in their propensity to think analytically. (shrink)
Although widely studied in other domains, relatively little is known about the metacognitive processes that monitor and control behaviour during reasoning and decision-making. In this paper, we examined the conditions under which two fluency cues are used to monitor initial reasoning: answer fluency, or the speed with which the initial, intuitive answer is produced, and perceptual fluency, or the ease with which problems can be read. The first two experiments demonstrated that answer fluency reliably predicted Feeling of Rightness judgments to (...) conditional inferences and base rate problems, which subsequently predicted the amount of deliberate processing as measured by thinking time and answer changes; answer fluency also predicted retrospective confidence judgments. Moreover, the effect of answer fluency on reasoning was independent from the effect of perceptual fluency, establishing that these are empirically independent constructs. In five experiments with a variety of reasoning problems similar to those of Alter et al., we found no effect of perceptual fluency on FOR, retrospective confidence or accuracy; however, we did observe that participants spent more time thinking about hard to read stimuli, although this additional time did not result in answer changes. In our final two experiments, we found that perceptual disfluency increased accuracy on the CRT, but only amongst participants of high cognitive ability. As Alter et al.’s samples were gathered from prestigious universities, collectively, the data to this point suggest that perceptual fluency prompts additional processing in general, but this processing may results in higher accuracy only for the most cognitively able. (shrink)
While individual differences in the willingness and ability to engage analytic processing have long informed research in reasoning and decision making, the implications of such differences have not yet had a strong influence in other domains of psychological research. We claim that analytic thinking is not limited to problems that have a normative basis and, as an extension of this, predict that individual differences in analytic thinking will be influential in determining beliefs and values. Along with assessments of cognitive ability (...) and style, religious beliefs, and moral values, participants judged the wrongness of acts considered disgusting and conventionally immoral, but that do not violate care- or fairness-based moral principles. Differences in willingness to engage analytic thinking predicted reduced judgements of wrongness, independent of demographics, political ideology, religiosity, and moral values. Further, we show that those who were higher in cognitive ability were less likely to indicate that purity, patriotism, and respect for traditions and authority are important to their moral thinking. These findings are consistent with a “Reflectionist” view that assumes a role for analytic thought in determining substantive, deeply-held human beliefs and values. (shrink)
Individual differences in the mere willingness to think analytically has been shown to predict religious disbelief. Recently, however, it has been argued that analytic thinkers are not actually less religious; rather, the putative association may be a result of religiosity typically being measured after analytic thinking (an order effect). In light of this possibility, we report four studies in which a negative correlation between religious belief and performance on analytic thinking measures is found when religious belief is measured in a (...) separate session. We also performed a meta-analysis on all previously published studies on the topic along with our four new studies (N = 15,078, k = 31), focusing specifically on the association between performance on the Cognitive Reflection Test (the most widely used individual difference measure of analytic thinking) and religious belief. This meta-analysis revealed an overall negative correlation (r) of -.18, 95% CI [-.21, -.16]. Although this correlation is modest, self-identified atheists (N = 133) scored 18.7% higher than religiously affiliated individuals (N = 597) on a composite measure of analytic thinking administered across our four new studies (d = .72). Our results indicate that the association between analytic thinking and religious disbelief is not caused by a simple order effect. There is good evidence that atheists and agnostics are more reflective than religious believers. (shrink)
Recent evidence suggests that people are highly efficient at detecting conflicting outputs produced by competing intuitive and analytic reasoning processes. Specifically, De Neys and Glumicic demonstrated that participants reason longer about problems that are characterized by conflict between stereotypical personality descriptions and base-rate probabilities of group membership. However, this finding comes from problems involving probabilities much more extreme than those used in traditional studies of base-rate neglect. To test the degree to which these findings depend on such extreme probabilities, we (...) varied base-rate probabilities over five experiments and compared participants’ response time for conflict problems with non-conflict problems. Longer response times for stereotypical responses to conflict versus non-conflict problems were found only in the presence of extreme probabilities. Our results suggest that humans may not be consistently efficient at detecting conflicts during reasoning. (shrink)
A divide exists in the creativity literature as to whether relatively more or less executive processing is beneficial to creative thinking. To explore this issue, we employ an individual differences perspective informed by dual-process theories in which it is assumed that people vary in the extent to which they rely on autonomous or controlled processing . We find that those more willing and/or able to engage Type 2 processing are more likely to successfully make creative connections in tasks requiring the (...) unification of disparate elements and the novelty of generated items, but not in some other indices of creativity, namely, cognitive flexibility and fluency. Implications for the role of executive processing in creative thinking are discussed in the context of DPTs. We situate the ability to make remote connections alongside other advanced higher order thinking capabilities that are unique to humans. (shrink)
Belief bias is the tendency for prior beliefs to influence people's deductive reasoning in two ways: through the application of a simple belief-heuristic and through the application of more effortful reasoning for unbelievable conclusions. Previous research indicates that cognitive ability is the primary determinant of the effect of beliefs on accuracy. In the current study, we show that the mere tendency to engage analytic reasoning is responsible for the effect of cognitive ability on motivated reasoning. The implications of this finding (...) for our understanding of the impact of individual differences on belief bias are discussed. (shrink)
Most research on aboriginal mind and mental health has sought to apply or confirm preexisting European-derived theories among aboriginal people. Culture has been underappreciate. An understanding of uniquely aboriginal models for mind and mental health might lead to more effective and robust interventions. To address this issue, a core group of elders from five separate regions of North America was developed to help determine how aboriginal people conceived of mind, self, and identity before European contact. The process utilized for this (...) study is iterative and involves discussions of teachings, traditional stories, and elder's comments on conclusions drawn. The elders endorsed a relational theory of mind in which mind exists between people as a product of the stories told and created within and by that relationship. Mind is distinguished from consciousness which is without language and exists within the individual as awareness. Language immediately results in an "out there" orientation in which two or more individuals generate stories about their experiences. The community is the basic unit of study for mind and mental health, and mental "illness" is not distinguished from physical "illness," but rather all are seen as a continuum of suffering and pain. What emerged from this research is that North American theories of mind are more closely related to Daoist and Shinto theories than to the logical positivism which drives most of North America's conventional psychology and psychiatry. Within European traditions, however, the philosophy of Mikhail Bakhtin with his emphasis on a dialogical self coupled with system theory comes closest to resembling North American aboriginal theories. This model explains why ceremony and ritual, community interventions, talking circles, and family therapy are more compatible with aboriginal thought than conventional North American biomedicine and psychology. (shrink)
In this reply, we provide an analysis of Alter et al. response to our earlier paper. In that paper, we reported difficulty in replicating Alter, Oppenheimer, Epley, and Eyre’s main finding, namely that a sense of disfluency produced by making stimuli difficult to perceive, increased accuracy on a variety of reasoning tasks. Alter, Oppenheimer, and Epley argue that we misunderstood the meaning of accuracy on these tasks, a claim that we reject. We argue and provide evidence that the tasks were (...) not too difficult for our populations and point out that in many cases performance on our tasks was well above chance or on a par with Alter et al.’s participants. Finally, we reiterate our claim that the distinction between answer fluency and perceptual fluency is genuine, and argue that Thompson et al. provided evidence that these are distinct factors that have different downstream effects on cognitive processes. (shrink)
De Neys proposes that deliberation is triggered and sustained by uncertainty. I argue that there are cases where deliberation occurs with low uncertainty – such as when problems are excessively complicated and the reasoner decides against engaging in deliberation – and that there are likely multiple factors that lead to (or undermine) deliberation. Nonetheless, De Neys is correct to surface these issues.
Scientists should, above all else, value the truth. To do this effectively, scientists should separate their identities from the data they produce. It will be easier to make replications mainstream if scientists are rewarded based on their stance toward the truth – such as when a scientist reacts positively to a failure to replicate – as opposed to a particular finding.