, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 113–119 | Cite as

The Pros and Cons of Identifying Critical Thinking with System 2 Processing

  • Jean-François Bonnefon


The dual-process model of cognition but most especially its reflective component, system 2 processing, shows strong conceptual links with critical thinking. In fact, the salient characteristics of system 2 processing are so strikingly close to that of critical thinking, that it is tempting to claim that critical thinking is system 2 processing, no more and no less. In this article, I consider the two sides of that claim: Does critical thinking always require system 2 processing? And does system 2 processing always result in critical thinking? I argue that it is plausible and helpful to consider that critical thinking requires system 2 processing. In particular, this assumption can provide interesting insights and benchmarks for critical thinking education. On the other hand, I show that system 2 processing can result in a range of outcomes which are either contradictory with critical thinking, or of debatable social desirability—which suggests that there is more to critical thinking than mere system 2 processing, and more to system 2 processing than just critical thinking.


Critical thinking Dual-process Debiasing Rationalization Morality 



Support through the ANR-Labex IAST is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Toulouse School of Economics, University of Toulouse Capitole (CNRS, Center for Research in Management)Institute for Advanced Study in ToulouseToulouse Cedex 6France

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