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Q J Exp Psychol (Hove). 2006 Jun;59(6):1070-100.

Automatic-heuristic and executive-analytic processing during reasoning: Chronometric and dual-task considerations.

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  • 1University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.


Human reasoning has been shown to overly rely on intuitive, heuristic processing instead of a more demanding analytic inference process. Four experiments tested the central claim of current dual-process theories that analytic operations involve time-consuming executive processing whereas the heuristic system would operate automatically. Participants solved conjunction fallacy problems and indicative and deontic selection tasks. Experiment 1 established that making correct analytic inferences demanded more processing time than did making heuristic inferences. Experiment 2 showed that burdening the executive resources with an attention-demanding secondary task decreased correct, analytic responding and boosted the rate of conjunction fallacies and indicative matching card selections. Results were replicated in Experiments 3 and 4 with a different secondary-task procedure. Involvement of executive resources for the deontic selection task was less clear. Findings validate basic processing assumptions of the dual-process framework and complete the correlational research programme of K. E. Stanovich and R. F. West (2000).

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