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Working Memory Capacity and Thinking Disposition as Predictors of the use of Heuristic or Analytic Processing in Syllogistic Reasoning

Working Memory Capacity and Thinking Disposition as Predictors of the use of Heuristic or Analytic Processing in Syllogistic Reasoning

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Published by Charlotte Kinloch
My university dissertation:
Abstract: The notion that human beings have the capacity for two different modes of thought, an effortless, intuitive, heuristic mode and an effortful, logical, analytic mode, is a profound one which goes to the very nature of our consciousness. This study uses the belief bias effect in syllogistic reasoning to determine the relationship between two individual differences; working memory capacity and need for cognition, and the propensity to use one or the other system of thought. A correlational design was used. An opportunity sample of 115 participants took part in the study which consisted of a pencil and paper syllogistic reasoning task and a short form of the need for cognition scale (Cacioppo, Petty, & Feng Kao, 1984), and an online operation span (OSPAN) task (Krantz, 2008). It was found that both need for cognition and working memory correlated positively with the ability to avoid belief bias errors. When confined to a model the amount that each predicted the ability to avoid belief bias was additive, the model explaining 30% of the variance in belief inhibition. Findings are explained in terms of dual-processing theory; those with greater need for cognition are more inclined to use the analytic processing as they take greater enjoyment from it, those with a larger working memory capacity are as likely to use analytic or heuristic processing as those with a smaller working memory capacity but have more effective analytic and heuristic systems. As an aside to this, participants degree of certainty to items on the syllogistic reasoning task were analysed as an indication of participants ability to detect conflict between logic and belief, although a significant result was found, possible methodological issues limited the interpretation of this part of the study.
My university dissertation:
Abstract: The notion that human beings have the capacity for two different modes of thought, an effortless, intuitive, heuristic mode and an effortful, logical, analytic mode, is a profound one which goes to the very nature of our consciousness. This study uses the belief bias effect in syllogistic reasoning to determine the relationship between two individual differences; working memory capacity and need for cognition, and the propensity to use one or the other system of thought. A correlational design was used. An opportunity sample of 115 participants took part in the study which consisted of a pencil and paper syllogistic reasoning task and a short form of the need for cognition scale (Cacioppo, Petty, & Feng Kao, 1984), and an online operation span (OSPAN) task (Krantz, 2008). It was found that both need for cognition and working memory correlated positively with the ability to avoid belief bias errors. When confined to a model the amount that each predicted the ability to avoid belief bias was additive, the model explaining 30% of the variance in belief inhibition. Findings are explained in terms of dual-processing theory; those with greater need for cognition are more inclined to use the analytic processing as they take greater enjoyment from it, those with a larger working memory capacity are as likely to use analytic or heuristic processing as those with a smaller working memory capacity but have more effective analytic and heuristic systems. As an aside to this, participants degree of certainty to items on the syllogistic reasoning task were analysed as an indication of participants ability to detect conflict between logic and belief, although a significant result was found, possible methodological issues limited the interpretation of this part of the study.

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Published by: Charlotte Kinloch on Mar 26, 2009
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Working Memory Capacity and Thinking Disposition as Predictors of the use of Heuristic or Analytic Processingin Syllogistic Reasoning
 Abstract
The notion that human beings have the capacity for two different modes of thought, an effortless, intuitive, heuristic mode and aneffortful, logical, analytic mode, is a profound one which goes to the very nature of our consciousness. This study uses the belief biaseffect in syllogistic reasoning to determine the relationship between two individual differences; working memory capacity and needfor cognition, and the propensity to use one or the other system of thought. A correlational design was used. An opportunity sample of 115 participants took part in the study which consisted of a pencil and paper syllogistic reasoning task and a short form of the needfor cognition scale (Cacioppo, Petty, & Feng Kao, 1984), and an online operation span (OSPAN) task (Krantz, 2008). It was found thatboth need for cognition and working memory correlated positively with the ability to avoid belief bias errors. When confined to amodel the amount that each predicted the ability to avoid belief bias was additive, the model explaining 30% of the variance in belief inhibition. Findings are explained in terms of dual-processing theory; those with greater need for cognition are more inclined to usethe analytic processing as they take greater enjoyment from it, those with a larger working memory capacity are as likely to useanalytic or heuristic processing as those with a smaller working memory capacity but have more effective analytic and heuristicsystems. As an aside to this, participants degree of certainty to items on the syllogistic reasoning task were analysed as an indicationof participants ability to detect conflict between logic and belief, although a significant result was found, possible methodologicalissues limited the interpretation of this part of the study.
General Introduction
The idea that humans have the capacity for two qualitatively different modes of thinking is a profound one. It is perhaps the oneattribute that sets us apart from other animals. Although monikers and details vary, the concept of duality in human thought process
 
is universal. The first formal theory was posited by William James in 1890 (James, 1890) but dual-processing theory in its current formwas first put forward by Newell and Simon (1972) who named the two systems “heuristic” and “universal” and used them in regard toproblem solving. They stated that people will use the heuristic mechanism, finding the solution to a problem from the application of past experience, whenever this is possible. If the problem faced is novel, the heuristic system fails as there is no previous experienceto relate it to, then the universal system is used whereby innovative solutions are generated.Stanovich and West (1982) built upon this theory relating it to human judgement and reasoning rather than problem solving. Theynamed the two modes of thought System 1 and System 2 processing and these terms have fairly stuck in the literature. System 1processing, related to Newell and Simon’s heuristics, is characterised by fast, intuitive judgements requiring of little cognitive effort.System 2, related to the universal system of Newell and Simon, is characterised by slow, effortful, serial processing which requires agreater degree of cognitive effort (De Neys, 2006b), it is seen as more logical and analytic than system 1. In his review of dual-processtheories, Evans (2007a) called the two systems ‘heuristic’ and ‘analytic’ for systems 1 and 2 respectively; in the interests of simplicitythis report will do the same.Although the dual process theory is successful in describing two systems of thought that appear to be different in nature, it has beencriticized for not explaining how the mechanisms underlying these systems actually work (e.g. Osman, 2004; Evans 2007a, 2007b). Tothis end, Kahnemann (2002) in his Nobel Prize lecture placed heuristic and analytic judgement along a continuum of 
accessibility 
of thought, with automatic perception on one end and hard deliberation on the other. This is in effect a view that the two processes arenot different qualitatively but differ quantitatively, only in the amount of conscious effort that is required. More recent researchhowever, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has found evidence that the two systems use distinct pathways in thebrain, indicating a qualitative rather than simply quantitative difference (Goel V. , 2007; Reverberi, Shallice, D'Agostini, Skrap, &Bonatti, 2009; Rodrigues-Moreno & Hirsch, 2009). Goel (2003) gave participants categorical syllogisms designed to either elicit belief-based response or analytical response whilst blood flow to different brain regions was visualised using fMRI. He found that that belief-
 
based syllogisms elicited activation of the left-frontal temporal region in the areas associated with long term memory, whilst theanalytical-based syllogisms elicited activation of the bilateral parietal system, areas associated with visuo-spatial reasoning. Goel’sfindings are comfortably explained by dual-process theory. When a syllogism accords with prior belief the brain uses the heuristicpathway to long term memory to determine a response. When a conflict is detected between conflict and belief this pathway isblocked and the brain uses the analytic process, which Goel surmises can be found in the Visuo-Spatial system. These forays into theanatomical and physiological basis of dual-processes may soon elucidate its underlying mechanisms.Whatever its nature, the concept of duality of thought pervades the literature and has been applied to a variety of subjects such asproblem solving (Gillard, Van Dooren, Schaeken, & Verschaffel, 2009), decision making (Dijksterhuis, Bos, Nordgren, & Von Baaren,2006) and social judgement (Petty & Brinol, 2006; Park, Levine, Westerman, & Foregger, 2007) among many others. The cognitivedual process theory has even been integrated into the psychodynamic concepts of the conscious and unconscious (Epstein, 1994). Thepresent research is interested in the dual-process paradigm in relation to deductive reasoning, syllogistic reasoning in particular. Anestablished approach to studying the dual-process theory is through exploiting the belief bias effect. Belief bias is the tendency toagree with a conclusion which concurs with one’s own beliefs even when that conclusion conflicts with deductive logic (Markovits &Nantel, 1989).In the arena of dual-processing there is a history of using this effect as an indicator of (inappropriate) use of heuristic processing e.g.(Evans, 1983; Denesraj & Epstein, 1994; Stupple & Ball, 2007; De Neys & Van Gelder, 2009). Belief-Inhibition occurs when anindividual suspends their belief and agrees with a conclusion that is logically valid even although it conflicts with their previousbeliefs; this is held as an indication of use of analytic processing.The method that is most often used to measure belief bias is syllogistic reasoning (e.g. Evans, Handley, & Harper, 2001; Roberts &Sykes, 2003). There are 4 types of syllogisms that are used; Believable-Valid and Unbelievable-Invalid (whereby logical necessity andbelievability of the conclusion concur, these are non-conflict syllogisms), Believable-Invalid and Unbelievable-Valid (whereby logical

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