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Rationality and the Reflective Mind 4: The Tri-Process Model and Serial Associative Cognition


Human beings are cognitive misers, which helps explain our tendency to rely on system 1 functions. Further, it explains our reliance on “serial associative cognition” when we use system 2, instead of a “full simulation.”

Serial associative cognitive involves a focal model of thinking, it “represents(s) only one state of affairs, accept(s) what is directly presented, and models what is presented as true, is a model that minimizes effort, and ignores moderating factors” (67). This is in contrast to a more exhaustive and costly thought process involving following each step and looking at each alternative before picking the optimal one and continuing. Page 68 offers a decent example of this hard to explain concept. Serial associative thinking is certainly type 2, but it involves less simulation and consideration of other alternatives.

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