The Smart System 1: evidence for the intuitive nature of correct responding on the bat-and-ball problem

Thinking and Reasoning 25 (3):257-299 (2019)
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Influential work on reasoning and decision-making has popularised the idea that sound reasoning requires correction of fast, intuitive thought processes by slower and more demanding deliberation. We present seven studies that question this corrective view of human thinking. We focused on the very problem that has been widely featured as the paradigmatic illustration of the corrective view, the well-known bat-and-ball problem. A two-response paradigm in which people were required to give an initial response under time pressure and cognitive load allowed us to identify the presumed intuitive response that preceded the final response given after deliberation. Across our studies, we observe that correct final responses are often non-corrective in nature. Many reasoners who manage to answer the bat-and-ball problem correctly after deliberation already solved it correctly when they reasoned under conditions that minimised deliberation in the initial response phase. This suggests that sound bat-and-ball reasoners do not necessarily need to deliberate to correct their intuitions; their intuitions are often already correct. Pace the corrective view, findings suggest that in these cases, they deliberate to verify correct intuitive insights.



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