Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

People don't just think with their guts: Logic plays a role, too

Date:
January 2, 2012
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
For decades, science has suggested that when people make decisions, they tend to ignore logic and go with the gut. But a psychological scientist has a new suggestion: Maybe thinking about logic is also intuitive.

For decades, science has suggested that when people make decisions, they tend to ignore logic and go with the gut. But Wim De Neys, a psychological scientist at the University of Toulouse in France, has a new suggestion: Maybe thinking about logic is also intuitive. He writes about this idea in the January issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Related Articles


Psychologists have partly based their conclusions about reasoning and decision-making on questions like this one:

"Bill is 34. He is intelligent, punctual but unimaginative and somewhat lifeless. In school, he was strong in mathematics but weak in social studies and humanities.

Which one of the following statements is most likely?

(a) Bill plays in a rock band for a hobby.

(b) Bill is an accountant and plays in a rock band for a hobby."

Most people will let their stereotypes about accountants rule and pick (b). But, in fact, we have no idea what Bill does for a living -- he could be a politician, a concert pianist, or a drug dealer -- so it's more likely that only one random possibility, the rock band, is true, than that both (a) and (b) would happen to be true.

This line of research has suggested that people don't use logic when making decisions about the world. But the truth is more complicated, De Neys says. When most people read a question like the one above, there's a sense that something isn't quite right. "That feeling you have, that there's something fishy about the problem -- we have a wide range of ways to measure that conflict," De Neys says. For example, he has shown with brain imaging that when people are thinking about this kind of problem, a part of their brain that deals with conflict is active. "They stick to their gut feeling and don't do the logical thing, but they do sense that what they are doing is wrong," De Neys says.

De Neys thinks this sense, that something isn't quite right with the decision you're making, comes from an intuitive sense of logic. Other scientists have found that children start thinking logically very early. In one study, 8-month-old babies were surprised if someone pulled mostly red balls out of a box that contained mostly white balls, proof that babies have an innate sense of probability before they can even talk. It makes sense, De Neys says, that this intuitive sense of logic would stick around in adults.

This research deals with the basics of how we think, but De Neys says it may help explain more complex decision-making. If you want to teach people to make better decisions, he says, "It's important to know which component of the process is faulty." For example, if you want to understand why people are smoking, and you think it's because they don't understand the logic -- that smoking kills -- you might put a lot of energy into explaining how smoking is bad for them, when the actual problem is addiction. It's a long way from a question about Bill's career to understanding something like why someone decides to get married, for example; but research like this should help," De Neys says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Perspectives on Psychological Science. Bias and conflict: A case for logical intuitions. Perspectives on Psychological Science, January 2012

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "People don't just think with their guts: Logic plays a role, too." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111229131356.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2012, January 2). People don't just think with their guts: Logic plays a role, too. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111229131356.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "People don't just think with their guts: Logic plays a role, too." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111229131356.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins