In recent years there has been an upsurge of research aimed at removing the mystery from insight and creative problem solving. The present special issue reflects this expanding field. Overall the papers gathered here converge on a nuanced view of insight and creative thinking as arising from multiple processes that can yield surprising solutions through a mixture of “special” Type 1 processes and “routine” Type 2 processes.
Language and thought share a unitary cognitive activity, addressed by an interpretative function. This interpretative effort reveals the assonance between the attribution of meaning to an utterance and the discovery of a solution via restructuring in insight problem solving. We suggest a view of complex integrated analytical thinking, which assumes that thinking processes information in different ways, depending on the characteristics of the tasks the subject has to solve, so that reasoning results in a stepwise, rule-based process or in a (...) widespread activity of search where implicit parallel processes are also involved. We investigated the interrelationship between language and thought in insight problem solving, in both its positive (Experiments 1 and 3) and its negative effects (Experiment 2). Our results are discussed in the light of the debate on dual processing theories. (shrink)
Language pragmatics is applied to analyse problem statements and instructions used in a few influential experimental tasks in the psychology of reasoning. This analysis aims to determine the interpretation of the task which the participant is likely to construct. It is applied to studies of deduction (where the interpretation of quantifiers and connectives is crucial) and to studies of inclusion judgment and probabilistic judgment. It is shown that the interpretation of the problem statements or even the representation of the task (...) as a whole often turn out to differ from the experimenter's assumptions. This has serious consequences for the validity of these experimental results and therefore for the claims about human irrationality based on them. (shrink)
The disjunction effect (Tversky & Shafir, 1992) occurs when decision makers prefer option x (versus y) when knowing that event A occurs and also when knowing that event A does not occur, but they refuse x (or prefer y) when not knowing whether or not A occurs. This form of incoherence violates Savage's (1954) sure-thing principle, one of the basic axioms of the rational theory of decision making. The phenomenon was attributed to a lack of clear reasons for accepting an (...) option (x) when subjects are under uncertainty. Through a pragmatic analysis of the task and a consequent reformulation of it, we show that the effect does not depend on the presence of uncertainty, but on the introduction of non-relevant goals into the text problem, in both the well-known Gamble problem and the Hawaii problem. (shrink)
We here report the findings of our investigation into the validity of the conjunction fallacy (Tversky & Kahneman, 1983), bearing in mind the role of conversational rules. Our first experiment showed that subjects found a logically correct answer unacceptable when it implied a violation of the conversational rules. We argue that tautological questions, such as those which concern the relationship of inclusion between a class and its sub-class, violate conversational rules because they are not informative. In this sense, it is (...) not understood that the question in a Linda-type problem involves a comparison between an inclusive and included class, but presumed that a different type of comparison is intended. Tautological questions (and, consequently, also their answers) do not become a matter of discussion except under certain specific conditions. Our second experiment showed that, providing the context was adequately marked (such as in the case of a rhetorical question), the conjunction fallacy disappears. In two further experiments, the implications of our view were compared with those of the other critical approaches to the heuristic programme: the classical pragmatic view (which we call logical complementarity) and the frequentist view. (shrink)
This is an excerpt from the contentThere has been increasing interest in recent years in dual process theories of human thought. This special issue of Mind and Society reflects this interest, some criticisms of these theories, and the major topics that have been discussed and debated as a result. There is the basic topic of how the postulated dual processes should be defined in the first place. Do these processes have essential defining features that can be distinguished from less central (...) correlates? Can decoupling, metarepresentation, or working memory be used for making the essential distinction?There are questions about how these dual processes work and interact. What do dual process theories tell us about different modes of thought and insight in problem solving? One topic that could throw light on these questions is creative thinking. It deals with novelties and yet can be rule following. It can be an aspect of hypothetical thinking, but how far it is a conscious or unconscious process is still unknown. There is th. (shrink)
The study of insight problem solving could well become one of the most important topics in the contemporary debate on thought. Dealing with insight problems today requires of necessity reconsidering the concept of bounded rationality. Simon’s work has inspired us to reflect on the specific quality of the type of boundaries which, by limiting the search, allow and guarantee the act of creativity; finding the solution to insight problems is emblematic of this creativity and provides a paradigmatic case. According to (...) Simon, the solution to insight problems requires a search for an alternative space. He considered the “Notice Invariants Heuristic” to be a powerful tool for focusing this search which must always be guided by salience. Therefore, in the case of insight problems the heuristic is not a weak method of solving problems; indeed, it is the only way, an innovative and creative approach to reach the solution. In our view, the solution to these problems is not attained by abstraction, but only by a pertinent interpretation of the context (interpretative heuristic) in the light of the goal, allowing the problem solver to abandon the default representation. We therefore propose that this interpretative heuristic is inherent to all insight problem solving processes and, in more general terms, is an adaptive characteristic of the human cognitive system; this of course implies that the dual process theory will have to be challenged and discussed. (shrink)
The formulation of the conditional probability in classical tasks does not guarantee the effective transmission of the independence of the hit rate from the base rate. In these kinds of tasks, data are all available, but subjects are able to understand them in the specific meanings proper to a specialized language only if these are adequately transmitted. From this perspective, the partitive formulation should not be considered a facilitation, but rather, a way of effectively transmitting the conditional probability.Consider the following (...) two phrases:1 The death-rate among men is twice that for women.2 In the deaths registered last month there were twice as many men as women.Are these two different ways of saying the same or are these different events? In fact, they are different events. (Lindley 1985, p. 44). (shrink)
This paper explores the effect of different types of incubation task (visual, numerical and verbal) with various levels of attentional focus and cognitive effort (non-demanding, low-demanding and high-demanding) on the resolution of insight problems. The most effective was found to be the low-demanding task (regardless of its nature), which although requiring attentional focus, leaves resources available for the unconscious analytical restructuring process, obtaining a high percentage of success in solving the problem shortly after completion of the incubation task. Overall findings (...) support the hypothesis of Unconscious Analytic Thought (UAT), according to which the restructuring required in insight problem solving implies a covert thinking process that includes a relevant, analytic and goal-oriented search. The findings are discussed in the light of UAT and are compared with the main theories of insight in problem solving. (shrink)
Examining the role of implicit, unconscious thinking on reasoning, decision making, problem solving, creativity, and its neurocognitive basis, for a genuinely psychological conception of rationality. This volume contributes to a current debate within the psychology of thought that has wide implications for our ideas about creativity, decision making, and economic behavior. The essays focus on the role of implicit, unconscious thinking in creativity and problem solving, the interaction of intuition and analytic thinking, and the relationship between communicative heuristics and thought. (...) The analyses move beyond the conventional conception of mind informed by extra-psychological theoretical models toward a genuinely psychological conception of rationality—a rationality no longer limited to conscious, explicit thought, but able to exploit the intentional implicit level. The contributors consider a new conception of human rationality that must cope with the uncertainty of the real world; the implications of abandoning the normative model of classic logic and adopting a probabilistic approach instead; the argumentative and linguistic aspects of reasoning; and the role of implicit thought in reasoning, creativity, and its neurological base. Contributors Maria Bagassi, Linden J. Ball, Jean Baratgin, Aron K. Barbey, Tilmann Betsch, Eric Billaut, Jean-François Bonnefon, Pierre Bonnier, Shira Elqayam, Keith Frankish, Gerd Gigerenzer, Ken Gilhooly, Denis Hilton, Anna Lang, Stefanie Lindow, Laura Macchi, Hugo Mercier, Giuseppe Mosconi, Ian R. Newman, Mike Oaksford, David Over, Guy Politzer, Johannes Ritter, Steven A. Sloman, Edward J. N. Stupple, Ron Sun, Nicole H. Therriault, Valerie A. Thompson, Emmanuel Trouche-Raymond, Riccardo Viale. (shrink)
In recent literature there is unanimous agreement about children's pragmatic competence in drawing scalar implicatures about some , if the task is made easy enough. However, children accept infelicitous some sentences more often than adults do. In general their acceptance is assumed to be synonymous with a logical interpretation of some as a quantifier. But in our view an overlap with some as a determiner in under-informative sentences cannot be ruled out, given the ambiguity of the experimental instructions and the (...) attitude of trust by children in adults. Our study investigated this hypothesis with different experimental manipulations. We found that when the experimenter's intentions are clear (Experiment 1, all / some order effect; Experiments 2 and 4, conditions 2 and 3), under-informative sentences are usually rejected; otherwise (Experiment 1, some / all order effect; Experiments 3 and 4, control condition) they are accepted. However, analysis of verbal protocols indicated that pragmatically infelicitous sentences are accepted, with some interpreted mostly as a determiner, irrespective of the function of some as a quantifier. Acceptance is not in itself synonymous with a logical interpretation of some as a quantifier. (shrink)
Psychology of communication must do everything is possible to promote an adequate perception of risk. This is particularly true when it comes to transmitting statistical and probabilistic data to an audience of non-experts, inevitably conditioning their perception of risk. Data are all available, but subjects are able to understand them in the specific meanings proper to a specialized language, only if they are adequately transmitted. And we find these phenomena in the difficulty in representing the trend of, for instance, Covid-19 (...) contagion, based on probability of contagion and mortality. In general, then, when we communicate scientific terms or data we should re-introduce the psychological aspects which characterize communication. The nudging strategies can be considered as a prototype of approach to overcome risky behaviours, which takes into account the cognitive characteristics of the human system. This strategy acts on different levels, using implicit factors, bypassing defensive attitudes and exploiting adaptive inferential processes, without overloading the cognitive system. But from a communicative point of view, nudge, as well as any other type of intervention, is not a general ‘recipe. The acceptance of the suggestion, the effectiveness of the nudging implies the congruity with the system that receives it: the “way of reasoning”, and its implicit layer has to be taken into account. The right combination of the source, the adopted message and the decisional setting could improve the efficacy of the public policies. (shrink)
This study aims at identifying the tools necessary for COVID-19 health emergency management, with particular reference to the period following the first lockdown, a crucial phase in which it was important to favor the maintenance of protective behaviors. It also aims at identifying the messages and sources that were most effective in managing communication correctly in such a crucial phase that is likely characterized by a fall in perceived health risk (due to the flattening of the epidemic curve) and a (...) simultaneous rise in perceived economic and social risks (due to the enduring calamity). Knowing what source will be most effective to convey a specific message is fundamental in enabling individuals to focus on and comply with the rules. At the same time, it is necessary to understand how the message should be presented, and the relationships between messages, sources and targets. To meet these goals, data were collected through a self-administered online questionnaire submitted to a sample of undergraduate students from a University in Lombardy–the region most affected by the pandemic in the first wave- (Study 1), and to a national sample composed of Italian citizens (Study 2). Through our first manipulation which explored the effectiveness of social norms in relation to different sources, we found that, in the national sample, the injunctive norm conveyed by the government was the most effective in promoting behavioral intentions. By contrast, among the students, results showed that for the critical group with a lower risk perception (less inclined to adopt prevention behavior) descriptive norms, which implicitly convey the risk perception of peers, were as effective as the government injunctive norm. Our second manipulation, identical in Study 1 and 2, compared four types of communication (emotional, exponential growth, both of them, or neutral). The neutral condition was the most memorable, but no condition was more effective than the others. Across all message types there was a high intention to adopt protective behaviors. The results indicate possible applicative implications of the adopted communicative tools. (shrink)
Most tasks used to demonstrate the base rate fallacy are ambiguous about the independence of the data. The removal of such ambiguities from the texts (by means of a clear reference class for the probabilities) is a necessary condition and has a considerable effect on the use of the base rate in classical probabilistic tasks. Some comments are offered on the frequentist phrasing of such and, more generally, their ecological validity.
The disjunction effect (Tversky and Shafir in Psychol Sci 3:305â309, 1992) occurs when decision makers prefer option x (versus y) when knowing that event A occurs and also when knowing that event A does not occur, but they refuse x (or prefer y) when not knowing whether or not A occurs. This form of incoherence violates Savageâs (Cognition 57:31â95, 1954) sure-thing principle, one of the basic axioms of the rational theory of decision-making. The phenomenon was attributed to a lack of (...) clear reasons for accepting an option (x) when the subjects are under uncertainty. Through a pragmatic analysis of the task and a consequent reformulation of it, we show that the effect does not depend on the presence of uncertainty, but on the introduction into the text-problem of a non-relevant goal. (shrink)