Tell Us What You Really Think: A think aloud protocol analysis of the verbal cognitive reflection test


The standard interpretation of cognitive reflection tests assumes that correct responses are reflective and lured responses are unreflective. However, prior process-tracing of mathematical reflection tests has cast doubt on this interpretation. In two studies (N = 201), we deployed a validated think-aloud protocol in-person and online to test how this assumption is satisfied by the new, validated, less familiar, and less mathematical verbal Cognitive Reflection Test (vCRT). Importantly, thinking aloud did not disrupt test performance compared to a control group. Moreover, verbalized thoughts in both studies revealed that most (but not all) correct responses involved reflection and that most (but not all) lured responses lacked reflection. These data suggest that the vCRT usually satisfies the standard interpretation of the reflection tests (albeit not without exceptions) and that the vCRT can be a good measure of the construct theorized by the two-factor explication of ‘reflection’ (as deliberate and conscious).



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Nick Byrd
Stevens Institute of Technology

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