The attempts to mitigate the unprecedented health, economic, and social disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are largely dependent on establishing compliance to behavioral guidelines and rules that reduce the risk of infection. Here, by conducting an online survey that tested participants’ knowledge about the disease and measured demographic, attitudinal, and cognitive variables, we identify predictors of self-reported social distancing and hygiene behavior. To investigate the cognitive processes underlying health-prevention behavior in the pandemic, we co-opted the dual-process model of thinking (...) to measure participants’ propensities for automatic and intuitive thinking vs. controlled and reflective thinking. Self-reports of 17 precautionary behaviors, including regular hand washing, social distancing, and wearing a face mask, served as a dependent measure. The results of hierarchical regressions showed that age, risk-taking propensity, and concern about the pandemic predicted adoption of precautionary behavior. Variance in cognitive processes also predicted precautionary behavior: participants with higher scores for controlled thinking (measured with the Cognitive Reflection Test) reported less adherence to specific guidelines, as did respondents with a poor understanding of the infection and transmission mechanism of the COVID-19 virus. The predictive power of this model was comparable to an approach (Theory of Planned Behavior) based on attitudes to health behavior. Given these results, we propose the inclusion of measures of cognitive reflection and mental model variables in predictive models of compliance, and future studies of precautionary behavior to establish how cognitive variables are linked with people’s information processing and social norms. (shrink)
Two studies explore the frequently reported finding that affective forecasts are too extreme. In the first study, driving test candidates forecast the emotional consequences of failing. Test failers overestimated the duration of their disappointment. Greater previous experience of this emotional event did not lead to any greater accuracy of the forecasts, suggesting that learning about one's own emotions is difficult. Failers' self-assessed chances of passing were lower a week after the test than immediately prior to the test; this difference correlated (...) with the magnitude of individual immediate disappointments, suggesting the presence of a cognitive strategy for recovering from disappointments. A second study investigated the theory that undue focus on the differences between present and future biases affective forecasts. “Defocusing” that induced low-level construals of the future reduced the extremeness of affective forecasts but a higher-level construal did not. We conclude that a focusing effect may bias affective forecasts. (shrink)
In the literature, the nature of the relationships between memory processes and summary evaluations is still a debate. According to some theoretical approaches (e.g., “two-memory hypothesis”; Anderson, 1989) retrospective evaluations are based on the impression formed while attending to the to-be-assessed stimuli(on-line judgment) – no functional dependence between information retrieval and judgment is implied. Conversely, several theories entail that judgment must depend, at least in part, on memory processes (e.g., Dougherty, Gettys, & Ogden, 1999; Schwarz, 1998; Tversky & Kahneman, 1973). (...) The present study contributes to this debate by addressing two important issues. First, it shows how more comprehensive memory measures than those used previously (e.g., Hastie & Park, 1986) are necessary in order to detect a relationship between memory and retrospective evaluations. Secondly, it demonstrates how memory strategies influence the relationship between memory and judgment. Participants recalled lists of words, after having assessed each of them for their pleasantness. Results showed a clear association between memory and judgment, which was mediated by the individual strategies participants used to recall the items. (shrink)
Stanovich & West argue that their observed positive correlations between performance of reasoning tasks and intelligence strengthen the standing of normative rules for determining rationality. I question this argument. Violations of normative rules by cognitively humble creatures in their natural environments are more of a problem for normative rules than for the creatures.