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J Exp Psychol Gen. 2007 Nov;136(4):569-76.

Overcoming intuition: metacognitive difficulty activates analytic reasoning.

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Psychology Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08540 USA.


Humans appear to reason using two processing styles: System 1 processes that are quick, intuitive, and effortless and System 2 processes that are slow, analytical, and deliberate that occasionally correct the output of System 1. Four experiments suggest that System 2 processes are activated by metacognitive experiences of difficulty or disfluency during the process of reasoning. Incidental experiences of difficulty or disfluency--receiving information in a degraded font (Experiments 1 and 4), in difficult-to-read lettering (Experiment 2), or while furrowing one's brow (Experiment 3)--reduced the impact of heuristics and defaults in judgment (Experiments 1 and 3), reduced reliance on peripheral cues in persuasion (Experiment 2), and improved syllogistic reasoning (Experiment 4). Metacognitive experiences of difficulty or disfluency appear to serve as an alarm that activates analytic forms of reasoning that assess and sometimes correct the output of more intuitive forms of reasoning.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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