What Dual Process Theories Of Human Cognition Propose Psychology Essay


Dual processes in many different ways had shown a complex and challenging way to draw together any coherent overviews. This was restricted to higher cognitive processes such as reasoning, memory, attention, thinking and decision making. The dual process theory phenomenon occurred in two different processes. The two processes included implicit (automatic) such as unconscious process and explicit (controlled) such as conscious process. Explicit processes which were verbalized including attitudes and action could have changed with education or persuasion. However implicit process or attitudes took more time to change with new habits being formed.

According to dual processing model, memory was either implicit, if it was part of the system 1 or explicit if part of system 2. Implicit memory was when ‘memory influenced behaviour without conscious awareness’ (Passer, Smith, Holt, Bremner, Sutherland and Vliek, 2009, p. 349). Such as, this is priming, and this was when participants were presented with priming stimuli which may be an example of a list of words including words such as kitchen. And then the participants had to then present with what seemed like an unconnected task such as completing word stems. The stimuli was presented in stage one prime recall unconsciously in stage two, such if the word stem was kit, then the participant was likely to write kitchen as oppose to kitten. Whereas explicit memory, was ‘conscious or intentional memory retrieval, as when you consciously recognise or recall something’ (Passer et al, 2009, p.349). where damage or loss of explicit memory could have resulted in amnesia. In which there was three possible types, such as the first being retrograde amnesia, which was loss of memory of events prior to the trauma, the second was anterograde amnesia, which was when memory was lost for events following the trauma, and the final type was being infantile amnesia. And this was when found difficult to recall events from early childhood. In the case of HM, which was a well known example of amnesia, the individual had suffered from many anterograde amnesia after brain surgery to help control epilepsy (Sternberg, 2006). After the operation, HM had a normal level of intelligence and the operation had no influence on his non memory cognitive capacity(Sternberg, 2006). However, it was discovered that since there was no effect on HM’s implicit memory, he therefore was able to learn mirror drawings, which was when a pattern was traced by looking in the mirror (Sternberg, 2006). By monitoring his progress, it showed that he improved later on with this task, but due to that his explicit memory was no longer intact it disallowed HM from recalling past events. Therefore the dual processes theory of cognition proposes that memory was encoded, processed and then retrieved by two separate systems. In the case of HM, it provided support for the dual process theory because it showed that there were two separate(distinct) memory processes. Which leaded to the proposition that dual processes theory may had been correct about explicit and implicit memory.

Human reasoning had been characterized as an relationship between the automatic belief based system and the demanding logic based reasoning system. Neys et al(2006) tested a claim about the nature of individual difference’s in reasoning and processing demands for both systems. The participants that were varying in working memory capacity did a reasoning task while their executive resources were held back with a secondary task. The results were consistent with the dual process claim. The executive burden had hampered correct reasoning when the believability of a conclusion was conflicted with its logical validity, however not when the beliefs had cued the correct response. Although participants who had a high working memory Span, actually performed better than those who had a lower span in cases of a conflict and all reasoners also showed a similar effects of load. The findings supported that there were two reasoning systems which had differential processing demands. However, constitute evidence was against qualitative individual differences for the human reasoning machinery.

Dual process theories of thinking had explained an individuals ”rational thinking failure” by two different human reasoning systems (Evans, 2003). Dual process theories assumed that a 1st system (the heuristic system) tended to solve a problem by relying on previous knowledge and beliefs. But the 2nd system (the analytic system) allowed reasoning according to the logical standards. The heuristic default system was assumed to operate quickly and automatically, while the operations for the analytic system were slow and greatly demanding for people’s computational resources.

Reasoning was recognized by the work of Peter Wason(1960-70) who invented many famous tasks such as the four card selection task. Deductive reasoning was one of the types of theories that had aimed to make decisions This was when deductive reasoning was carried out and an individual ‘begins with a set of premises and determine what the premises imply’ (Passer et al, 2009). This theory was supported by Wason’s four card theory. Where the participants were presented with four cards, one which has the letter A, the second with the letter D, the third card with the number 2 and fourth card with the number 7 (Passer et al, 2009). The participants were then told that ‘if there is an A on one side of the card then there is a 2 on the other side’ (Passer et al, 2009 p407). The participants then stated which card they wanted to turn over and the correct answer would have been card A and card 7, however it was found that only 10% of participants answered correctly and that the majority chose to turn over the card, letter A and the number 2. More evidence for this theory was found by belief bias, which was ‘the tendency to abandon logical rules in favour of a persons own personal beliefs’ (Passer et al, 2009 p. 408). Therefore it was concluded from the belief bias that if deductive reasoning was properly applied, thus all the information was accepted then the theory does work correctly. In addition, in the case of belief bias a individual disagrees with a piece of information and thus disagrees with the conclusion (Passer et al, 2009). A major point was that because the individual disagreed with primitives, they believed how the conclusion was not possible and illogical. A possible theory apposed to the dual processing systems theory came from a adaptive toolbox theory which suggested that the cognitive mind was organised, and this also determined the way in how the heuristics were assessed.

The heuristic-analytic theory of reasoning (Evans 1989) had the emphasis of

the heuristic processes which was responsible for biases to a pragmatic and preconscious level in that proceeded any attempt for analytic processing. This theory was a narrower in scope than typical dual process theories and also strongly focused on the explanation for biases in reasoning and judgment tasks. The thought was that heuristic processes focused attention up on task features that had appeared relevant for introducing relevant previous knowledge in the process. Because analytic processing could had only been applied to these selective representations, some biases would were observed when either logically relevant information was excluded or if logical irrelevant information had been included by heuristic processing.

In conclusion, the dual process theory had been applied to the

study of syllogistic reasoning, such as the Wason selection task and conditional inference. Experimental evidence had consistently shown that responses were partially consistent with logic and also influenced by systematic biases like matching bias and belief bias. Also, cognitive models had generally depicted these as influences in a within participant conflict. To support the dual process, it accounted that there were several different forms of evidence such as the observation with more logical and less belief based reasoning which was under strong deductive reasoning instructions. Also accounted the association of better logical accuracy with higher ability participants when problems were not able to also be solved by

an practical route. Finally, the findings of the working memory load and instructions to respond rapidly increased levels of typical type biases as well as reducing logical accuracy.

The normative theory for decision making was Subjective Expected Utility(SEU) and this was the decision theory for the presence of fear. Utility had also made the desirable outcome which helped maintain a goal in theory. There was a trade off utility, in a mean of gambling, for a certain outcome against its probability.

Through Tversky and Frederick(1984)’s prospect theory, which was a descriptive theory on what people actually do, who had showed people regularly violate the SEU. Principles of the prospect theory was to share with the SEU treatment or decision with gambling and combining utility with probability. Although, the utility was subjective, and not lenient towards the objective value. There was an reference point where the losses and gains was relative. For the formula of value equals gain/loss, it had showed no final utility of an particular outcome. Throughout the prospect theory which was on a graph, the value was to define the reference point with the curve in for concave for gains or convex for losses. This function was steeper for losses than gains, therefore there was a loss aversion.

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Kahneman and Frederick (2002), suggested through the heuristics to conclude decisions systematically and rationally through heuristics of availability and representativeness. Because making a decision was not easy, these heuristics was suggested to make it easier. The availability heuristic or biases, was based on information that was found easily from the long term memory. This was based on assumptions on event’s with high probability of frequency occurring from the past. More frequent the events were, usually it more easily remembered. The representativeness heuristic suggested by Tversky and Kahneman(1973), who found that people stereotyped ideas, because people “judge the likelihood of something by intuitively compared with preconceived ideas for characteristics of an event”. Through dual processing for decision making, Kahneman and Frederick(2002) produced the theory of probability which linked to the generic system theory. From heuristic judgements, biases were actually associated with the analytic reasoning which may had intervene judgements and improve them, linked to system 2. A general finding could be found while biases for probability judgement linking to representativeness and availability heuristics. It competed to have found a tendency to provide a normative correct answer.

The adaptive toolbox approach criticised the dual processing of decision making through Gigerenzer. Gigerenzer studied the rationality and heuristics for decision making. He had claimed that evolution favoured specific rather than general cognitive mechanisms. Also, the adaptive toolbox was fast and computationally cheap, which was adapted to a particular environment. Gigerenzer also criticised the work of Kahneman and Tversky, who claimed that heuristics did not provide information on human thinking like a riddle along irrational cognitive basis, than a rational adaptive tool with formal logic.

During analytical thinking, logical responses was likely to occur when heuristic processes provided necessary cues. There were validity effects to the analytic process due to the belief bias, where beliefs affected the attribute of the heuristic process. From the normative decision theory, where an rational decision maker would had made the decisions to maximise expected value such as content sensitive heuristic process prompt to that decision. In addition, reasoning showed logical/non logical influences for content and context regarded as biases. However, in dual process theories, normative responses to make decisions were made because of analytic processing or suitable pragmatic cues.

Through dual processing in decision making, Kahneman and Frederick(2002) shaped the theory of probability linked to a generic system theory. From the heuristic judgements, biases were actually associated with analytic reasoning which may intervene judgements and improve them, which was linked to system 2. General findings could be found as biases in probability judgement related to representativeness heuristics.

Overall, it was said that dual process theories for human cognition propose was that there was two main types of systems that carried out many cognitive processes. Looking at the theories for different domains such as decision making and reasoning, it can be said that previous evidence supported the theories. However, it was argued that there was also evidence and theories which challenged the dual processes theory, such as the adaptive toolbox theory.



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