Influential work on reasoning and decision-making has popularised the idea that sound reasoning requires correction of fast, intuitive thought processes by slower and more demanding deliberation. We present seven studies that question this corrective view of human thinking. We focused on the very problem that has been widely featured as the paradigmatic illustration of the corrective view, the well-known bat-and-ball problem. A two-response paradigm in which people were required to give an initial response under time pressure and cognitive load allowed (...) us to identify the presumed intuitive response that preceded the final response given after deliberation. Across our studies, we observe that correct final responses are often non-corrective in nature. Many reasoners who manage to answer the bat-and-ball problem correctly after deliberation already solved it correctly when they reasoned under conditions that minimised deliberation in the initial response phase. This suggests that sound bat-and-ball reasoners do not necessarily need to deliberate to correct their intuitions; their intuitions are often already correct. Pace the corrective view, findings suggest that in these cases, they deliberate to verify correct intuitive insights. (shrink)
Recent reasoning accounts suggest that people can process elementary logical principles intuitively. These controversial “logical intuitions” are believed to result from a learning process in which developing reasoners automatize their application. To verify this automatization hypothesis, we contrasted the reasoning performance of younger (7th grade) and older (12th grade) reasoners with a two-response paradigm. Participants initially responded with the first intuitive response that came to mind and subsequently were allowed to deliberate on classic “bias” problems (base-rate problems and syllogisms). Results (...) showed that in addition to showing less deliberate correction of an initial erroneous response, younger reasoners were specifically less likely to generate the correct response from the outset. The findings lend credence to the role of a developmental automatization process and indicate that developmental improvements in reasoning accuracy are at least partially driven by an improvement in the accuracy of our intuitions. (shrink)
In this commentary, I warn against a possible dual process misconception that might lead people to conclude that utilitarian judgments are normatively correct. I clarify how the misconception builds on (1) the association between System 2 and normativity in the dual process literature on logical/probabilistic reasoning, and (2) the classification of utilitarian judgments as resulting from System 2 processing in the dual process model of moral reasoning. I present theoretical and empirical evidence against both premises.
Dual process theories conceive human thinking as an interplay between heuristic processes that operate automatically and analytic processes that demand cognitive effort. The interaction between these two types of processes is poorly understood. De Neys and Glumicic (2008) recently found that most of the time heuristic processes are successfully monitored. This monitoring, however, would not demand as many cognitive resources as the analytic thinking that is needed to solve reasoning problems. In the present study we tested the crucial assumption about (...) the effortless nature of the monitoring process directly. Participants solved base-rate neglect problems in which heuristic and analytic processes cued a conflicting response or not. Half of the participants reasoned under a secondary task load. A surprise recall task was used as an implicit measure of whether the participants detected the conflict in the problems. Results showed that, even under load, base-rate recall performance was better for conflict problems than for no-conflict problems. Although participants made more reasoning errors under load, recall of the conflict problems was not affected by the working memory load. These findings support the claim about the successful and undemanding nature of the conflict detection process during thinking. (shrink)
Human reasoning is often conceived as an interplay between a more intuitive and deliberate thought process. In the last 50 years, influential fast-and-slow dual-process models that capitalize on this distinction have been used to account for numerous phenomena – from logical reasoning biases, over prosocial behavior, to moral decision making. The present paper clarifies that despite the popularity, critical assumptions are poorly conceived. My critique focuses on two interconnected foundational issues: the exclusivity and switch feature. The exclusivity feature refers to (...) the tendency to conceive intuition and deliberation as generating unique responses such that one type of response is assumed to be beyond the capability of the fast-intuitive processing mode. I review the empirical evidence in key fields and show that there is no solid ground for such exclusivity. The switch feature concerns the mechanism by which a reasoner can decide to shift between more intuitive and deliberate processing. I present an overview of leading switch accounts and show that they are conceptually problematic – precisely because they presuppose exclusivity. I build on these insights to sketch the groundwork for a more viable dual-process architecture and illustrate how it can set a new research agenda to advance the field in the coming years. (shrink)
Two experiments examined the contribution of working memory (WM) to the retrieval and inhibition of background knowledge about counterexamples (alternatives and disablers, Cummins, ) during conditional reasoning. Experiment 1 presented a conditional reasoning task with everyday, causal conditionals to a group of people with high and low WM spans. High spans rejected the logically invalid AC and DA inferences to a greater extent than low spans, whereas low spans accepted the logically valid MP and MT inferences less frequently than high (...) spans. In Experiment 2, an executive-attention-demanding secondary task was imposed during the reasoning task. Findings corroborate that WM resources are used for retrieval of stored counterexamples and that people with high WM spans will use WM resources to inhibit the counterexample activation when the type of counterexample conflicts with the logical validity of the reasoning problem. (shrink)
In this commentary, I highlight the relevance of Cushman's target article for the popular dual-process framework of thinking. I point to the problematic characterization of rationalization in traditional dual-process models and suggest that in line with recent advances, Cushman's rational rationalization account offers a way out of the rationalization paradox.
Oaksford & Chater (O&C) rely on a data fitting approach to show that a Bayesian model captures the core reasoning data better than its logicist rivals. The problem is that O&C's modeling has focused exclusively on response output data. I argue that this exclusive focus is biasing their conclusions. Recent studies that focused on the processes that resulted in the response selection are more positive for the role of logic.
The 34 commentaries on the target article span a broad range of interesting issues. I have organized my reply around five major themes that seemed to emerge: Remarks about the generalizability of the empirical findings, links with other models, necessary extensions, the utility of dual-process models, and more specific points. This allows me to clarify possible misconceptions and identify avenues for further advancement.
Mercier and Sperber (M&S) sketch a bleak picture of logical reasoning in classic, nonargumentative tasks. I argue that recent processing data indicate that despite people's poor performance they at least seek to adhere to traditional logical norms in these tasks. This implies that classic reasoning tasks are less artificialthan M&S's framework suggests.
The present study is part of recent attempts to specify the characteristics of the counterexample retrieval process during causal conditional reasoning. The study tried to pinpoint whether the retrieval of stored counterexamples (alternative causes and disabling conditions) for a causal conditional is completely automatic in nature or whether the search process also demands executive working memory (WM) resources. In Experiment 1, participants were presented with a counterexample generation task and a measure of WM capacity. We found a positive relation between (...) search efficiency, as measured by the number of generated counterexamples in limited time, and WM capacity. Experiment 2 examined the effects of a secondary WM load on the retrieval performance. As predicted, burdening WM with an attention-demanding secondary task decreased the retrieval efficiency. Both low and high spans were affected by the WM load but load effects were less pronounced for the most strongly associated counterexamples. Findings established that in addition to an automatic search component, the counterexample retrieval draws on WM resources. (shrink)
Barbey & Sloman (B&S) claim that frequency formats and other task manipulations induce people to substitute associative thinking for rule-based thinking about nested sets. My critique focuses on the substitution assumption. B&S demonstrate that nested sets are important to solve base-rate problems but they do not show that thinking about these nested sets relies on a different type of reasoning.