Intuitive and Deliberate Judgments Are Based on Common Principles

Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
Psychological Review (Impact Factor: 7.97). 07/2011; 118(1):97-109. DOI: 10.1037/a0020762
Source: PubMed


A popular distinction in cognitive and social psychology has been between intuitive and deliberate judgments. This juxtaposition has aligned in dual-process theories of reasoning associative, unconscious, effortless, heuristic, and suboptimal processes (assumed to foster intuitive judgments) versus rule-based, conscious, effortful, analytic, and rational processes (assumed to characterize deliberate judgments). In contrast, we provide convergent arguments and evidence for a unified theoretical approach to both intuitive and deliberative judgments. Both are rule-based, and in fact, the very same rules can underlie both intuitive and deliberate judgments. The important open question is that of rule selection, and we propose a 2-step process in which the task itself and the individual's memory constrain the set of applicable rules, whereas the individual's processing potential and the (perceived) ecological rationality of the rule for the task guide the final selection from that set. Deliberate judgments are not generally more accurate than intuitive judgments; in both cases, accuracy depends on the match between rule and environment: the rules' ecological rationality. Heuristics that are less effortful and in which parts of the information are ignored can be more accurate than cognitive strategies that have more information and computation. The proposed framework adumbrates a unified approach that specifies the critical dimensions on which judgmental situations may vary and the environmental conditions under which rules can be expected to be successful.

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