Dual processes and the interplay between knowledge and structure: A new parallel processing model

Simon J. Handley*, Dries Trippas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)


How do reasoners resolve a conflict between two competing responses, one cued by beliefs and knowledge, and one based upon the problem's underlying logic and structure? The literature suggests that such conflicts are routinely resolved in favor of a belief-based heuristic (Type 1) response that is generated autonomously and by default. Given sufficient effort, time, and motivation, reasoners can and sometimes do engage in more deliberative (Type 2) processing and intervene on default responses, generating responses based upon the underlying structure of the problem. Such default interventionist accounts of reasoning biases have become increasingly popular in the reasoning and judgment domains. In this chapter we review recent evidence which suggests that reasoners show intuitive sensitivity to logical structure, which can interfere with belief or knowledge judgments. We further show that the tendency to respond on the basis of beliefs can be slow and effortful, can increase with development, and often depends upon working memory. We evaluate the implications of these findings for dual process accounts and conclude that existing dual process frameworks cannot account for the evidence. Finally, we sketch the principles of a new model which assumes that both structure and knowledge make intuitive and deliberative contributions to responses on reasoning and judgment tasks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-58
Number of pages26
JournalPsychology of Learning and Motivation - Advances in Research and Theory
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Beliefs
  • Biases
  • Dual processes
  • Heuristics
  • Intuitive logic
  • Reasoning


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