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Front Psychol. 2014 Jul 2;5:665. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00665. eCollection 2014.

Heuristics and biases: interactions among numeracy, ability, and reflectiveness predict normative responding.

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Decision Making and Development, School of Psychological Science, University of Northern Colorado Greeley, CO, USA.


In Stanovich's (2009a, 2011) dual-process theory, analytic processing occurs in the algorithmic and reflective minds. Thinking dispositions, indexes of reflective mind functioning, are believed to regulate operations at the algorithmic level, indexed by general cognitive ability. General limitations at the algorithmic level impose constraints on, and affect the adequacy of, specific strategies and abilities (e.g., numeracy). In a study of 216 undergraduates, the hypothesis that thinking dispositions and general ability moderate the relationship between numeracy (understanding of mathematical concepts and attention to numerical information) and normative responses on probabilistic heuristics and biases (HB) problems was tested. Although all three individual difference measures predicted normative responses, the numeracy-normative response association depended on thinking dispositions and general ability. Specifically, numeracy directly affected normative responding only at relatively high levels of thinking dispositions and general ability. At low levels of thinking dispositions, neither general ability nor numeric skills related to normative responses. Discussion focuses on the consistency of these findings with the hypothesis that the implementation of specific skills is constrained by limitations at both the reflective level and the algorithmic level, methodological limitations that prohibit definitive conclusions, and alternative explanations.


analytic processing; heuristics and biases; moderator effects; normative; numeracy

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