Deciding Analytically or Trusting your Intuition? The Advantadges and Disadvantadges of Analytic and Intuitive Thought

Abstract (Via Pompeu Fabra)

Recent research has highlighted the notion that people can make judgments and choices by means of two systems that are labeled here tacit (or intuitive) and deliberate (or analytic). Whereas most decisions typically involve both systems, this chapter examines the conditions under which each system is liable to be more effective. This aims to illuminate the age-old issue of whether and when people should trust “intuition” or “analysis.” To do this, a framework is presented to understand how the tacit and deliberate systems work in tandem. Distinctions are also made between the types of information typically used by both systems as well as the characteristics of environments that facilitate or hinder accurate learning by the tacit system. Next, several experiments that have contrasted “intuitive” and “analytic” modes on the same tasks are reviewed. Together, the theoretical framework and experimental evidence leads to specifying the trade-off that characterizes their relative effectiveness. Tacit system responses can be subject to biases. In making deliberate system responses, however, people might not be aware of the “correct rule” to deal with the task they are facing and/or make errors in executing it. Whether tacit or deliberate responses are more valid in particular circumstances requires assessing this trade-off. In this, the probability of making errors in deliberate thought is postulated to be a function of the analytical complexity of the task as perceived by the person. Thus the trade-off is one of bias (in implicit responses) versus analytical complexity (when tasks are handled in deliberate mode). Finally, it is noted that whereas much attention has been paid in the past to helping people make decisions in deliberate mode, efforts should also be directed toward improving ability to make decisions in tacit mode since the effectiveness of decisions clearly depends on both. This therefore represents an important frontier for research.

Introduction (Via Pompeu Fabra)

The purpose of this chapter is to illuminate the issue of when and where analytic or intuitive judgment is likely to be more effective. To achieve this, I first discuss some of the dual-process models of thought advanced in the literature. This, in turn, leads to my own definition of the dual models that I refer to as the tacit and deliberate systems of thought and which I use to make operational the concepts of intuition and analysis. I further present a framework for understanding how these two systems work in tandem. Critical to this framework is the notion that stimuli encountered by the organism are first filtered by a preconscious processor and that
much cognitive activity takes place outside of cognitive awareness. The tacit system is thus always involved in making judgments and choices but can be subject to control by the deliberate system. I also emphasize the importance of the state of the organism when it first meets any triggering stimulus and that the kinds of information processed by the tacit and deliberate systems differ. The former tends to operate on information that is partial (relative to the task at hand) but also holistic. The latter operates on unitary cues and also depends heavily on additional information that is absent from the stimulus that initially triggered the process of deliberate thought.

Part Conclusion (Via Pompeu Fabra)

In Hogarth (2001, Chs. 6, 7, & 8), I provide a framework and many suggestions as to how people can develop their intuitive skills. Central to these ideas is the notion that our tacit systems are constantly honing our responses to the feedback we receive in the environments in which we operate (recall the discussion above on kind and wicked learning environments). Thus selecting appropriate learning environments and monitoring the kinds of feedback that we receive must rank high on the conditions that foster the acquisition of good intuitions. In addition, I believe that people need to be more aware of how often they allow themselves to take decisions automatically as opposed to exercising greater cognitive control (as elegantly discussed by Langer, 1989).

Greater awareness of the dual nature of thought can, by itself, lead to better use of our limited cognitive resources.

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25. November 2009 by Miguel Barbosa
Categories: Curated Readings, Psychology & Sociology | Leave a comment

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