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Analytic thinking: do you feel like it?


A major challenge for Dual Process Theories of reasoning is to predict the circumstances under which intuitive answers reached on the basis of Type 1 processing are kept or discarded in favour of analytic, Type 2 processing (Thompson 2009). We propose that a key determinant of the probability that Type 2 processes intervene is the affective response that accompanies Type 1 processing. This affective response arises from the fluency with which the initial answer is produced, such that fluently produced answers give rise to a strong feeling of rightness. This feeling of rightness, in turn, determines the extent and probability with which Type 2 processes will be engaged. Because many of the intuitions produced by Type 1 processes are fluent, it is common for them to be accompanied by a strong sense of rightness. However, because fluency is poorly calibrated to objective difficulty, confidently held intuitions may form the basis of poor quality decisions.

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    For this reason, we suggest that Stanovich’s (2011) definition of Type 1 processes may be most useful. This definition relies on autonomy as the central characteristic of Type 1 processes; that is, Type 1 processing is mandatory when the relevant triggering stimuli have been encountered. The other elements described above, namely rapid execution, low cognitive load, parallel processing, are correlated with mandatory processing, but are not defining characteristics of Type 1 processing. Consequently, Type 1 processes may vary in terms of the speed with which they are produced, with concomitant variance in the strength of their FOR.


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Correspondence to Valerie Thompson.

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Thompson, V., Morsanyi, K. Analytic thinking: do you feel like it?. Mind Soc 11, 93–105 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11299-012-0100-6

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  • Fluency heuristic
  • Affect
  • Dual process theories
  • Intuition
  • Analytic thinking
  • Reasoning
  • Decision making
  • Feeling of rightness