, Volume 13, Issue 6, pp 935-953

Development of intuitive rules: Evaluating the application of the dual-system framework to understanding children’s intuitive reasoning

Abstract

Theories of adult reasoning propose that reasoning consists of two functionally distinct systems that operate under entirely different mechanisms. This theoretical framework has been used to account for a wide range of phenomena, which now encompasses developmental research on reasoning and problem solving. We begin this review by contrasting three main dual-system theories of adult reasoning (Evans & Over, 1996; Sloman, 1996; Stanovich & West, 2000) with a well-established developmental account that also incorporates a dual-system framework (Brainerd & Reyna, 2001). We use developmental studies of the formation and application of intuitive rules in science and mathematics to evaluate the claims that these theories make. Overall, the evidence reviewed suggests that what is crucial to understanding how children reason is the saliency of the features that are presented within a task. By highlighting the importance of saliency as a way of understanding reasoning, we aim to provide clarity concerning the benefits and limitations of adopting a dual-system framework to account for evidence from developmental studies of intuitive reasoning.

Preparation of this article was supported by ESRC Grant RES-000-27-0119 and the ESRC Research Centre for Economic Learning and Social Evolution.