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A Rational Reinterpretation of Dual Process Theories




Highly influential "dual-process" accounts of human cognition postulate the coexistence of a slow accurate system with a fast error-prone system. But why would there be just two systems rather than, say, one or 93? Here, we argue that a dual-process architecture might be neither arbitrary nor irrational, but might instead reflect a rational tradeoff between the cognitive flexibility afforded by multiple systems and the time and effort required to choose between them. We investigate what the optimal set and number of cognitive systems would be depending on the structure of the environment. We find that the optimal number of systems depends on the variability of the environment and the difficulty of deciding when which system should be used. Furthermore, when having two systems is optimal, then the first system is fast but error-prone and the second system is slow but accurate. Our findings thereby provide a rational reinterpretation of dual-process theories.

Author(s): Smitha Milli and Falk Lieder and Thomas L. Griffiths
Year: 2019

Department(s): Rationality Enhancement
Bibtex Type: Article (article)
Paper Type: Journal

DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.14956.46722/1
State: Published


  title = {A Rational Reinterpretation of Dual Process Theories},
  author = {Milli, Smitha and Lieder, Falk and Griffiths, Thomas L.},
  year = {2019}