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Dual-process theory

Dual process theory in psychology suggests that thinking operates via two distinct systems: an implicit system, which is automatic and unconscious, and an explicit system, which is controlled and conscious. Explicit attitudes and behaviors can be modified relatively quickly through persuasion or education, whereas implicit attitudes usually take longer to change and often require the establishment of new habits. These theories are central to various branches of psychology, including social, personality, cognitive, and clinical psychology. They also intersect with economics, especially in the contexts of prospect theory and behavioral economics, and are gaining prominence in sociological studies through cultural analysis.

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Dual-process models of cognition: A multifarious nomenclature (or a terminological pandemonium)

  • automatic vs. controlled (Kahneman, 2003)
  • associative vs. rule based (Sloman, 1996)
  • heuristic vs. analytic (Klaczynski, 2001)
  • personal vs. subpersonal (Frankish, 2009)
  • analogue vs. symbolic (Paivio, 1986)
  • reflexive vs. reflective (Lieberman et al., 2002)
  • heuristic vs. systematic (Chaiken, 1980)
  • peripheral vs. central (Petty & Cacioppo, 1981)
  • implicit vs. explicit (Greenwald et al., 1998)
  • automatic vs. conscious (Baumeister, 2005)
  • experiential vs. noetic (Strack & Deutsch, 2004)
  • intuitive vs. reflective (Sperber, 1997)
  • associative vs. propositional (Gawronski & Bodenhausen, 2006)
  • etc. pp.

It has been noted that “what matters is not the specific names but the fact of duality” (Baumeister, 2005, p.75).

Summary of the features attributed to each system

System 1 System 2
  • Evolutionarily old
  • Unconcious, preconcious
  • Shared with animals
  • Implicit knowledge
  • Automatic
  • Fast
  • Parallel
  • High capacity
  • Intuitive
  • Contextualized
  • Pragmatic
  • Associative
  • Independent of general intelligence
  • Evolutionarily recent
  • Concious
  • Uniquely (distinctively) human
  • Explicit knowledge
  • Controlled
  • Slow
  • Sequential
  • Low capacity
  • Reflective
  • Abstract
  • Logical
  • Rule-based
  • Linked to general intelligence

Adapted from Frankish, K. (2009). Systems and levels: Dual-system theorie and the personal-subpersonal distinction. In J. S. B. T. Evans & K. Frankish (Eds.), In two minds: Dual processes and beyond (p. 89-108). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Further References

Groves, P. M., & Thompson, R. F.. (1970). Habituation: A dual-process theory. Psychological Review

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1037/h0029810
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Wixted, J. T.. (2007). Dual-process theory and signal-detection theory of recognition memory. Psychological Review

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1037/0033-295X.114.1.152
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Greene, J. D.. (2009). Dual-process morality and the personal/impersonal distinction: A reply to McGuire, Langdon, Coltheart, and Mackenzie. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2009.01.003
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Stanovich, K. E.. (2012). Distinguishing the reflective, algorithmic, and autonomous minds: Is it time for a tri-process theory?. In In Two Minds: Dual Processes and Beyond

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199230167.003.0003
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Pelaccia, T., Tardif, J., Triby, E., & Charlin, B.. (2011). An analysis of clinical reasoning through a recent and comprehensive approach: The dual-process theory. Medical Education Online

Plain numerical DOI: 10.3402/meo.v16i0.5890
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Petty, R. E., & Wegener, D. T.. (1999). The Elaboration Likelihood Model: Current status and controversies. Dual Process Theories in Social Psychology

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1016/S0022-4405(97)00003-4
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Barrouillet, P.. (2011). Dual-process theories and cognitive development: Advances and challenges. Developmental Review

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1016/j.dr.2011.07.002
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Greene, J. D., Morelli, S. A., Lowenberg, K., Nystrom, L. E., & Cohen, J. D.. (2008). Cognitive load selectively interferes with utilitarian moral judgment. Cognition

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2007.11.004
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Slade, P. D., & Glynn Owens, R.. (1998). A dual process model of perfectionism based on reinforcement theory. Behavior Modification

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1177/01454455980223010
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Sowden, P. T., Pringle, A., & Gabora, L.. (2015). The shifting sands of creative thinking: Connections to dual-process theory. Thinking and Reasoning

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1080/13546783.2014.885464
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Smith, E. R., & DeCoster, J.. (2000). Dual-process models in social and cognitive psychology: Conceptual integration and links to underlying memory systems. Personality and Social Psychology Review

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1207/S15327957PSPR0402_01
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Pyszczynski, T., Solomon, S., & Greenberg, J.. (1999). A dual-process model of defense against conscious and unconscious death-related thoughts: An extension of terror management theory. Psychological Review

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1037/0033-295X.106.4.835
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Knowles, E. S., & Condon, C. A.. (1999). Why people say “yes”: A dual-process theory of acquiescence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.77.2.379
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Gawronski, B.. (2013). What should we expect from a dual-process theory of preference construction in choice?. Journal of Consumer Psychology

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1016/j.jcps.2013.04.007
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Sahlin, N. E., Wallin, A., & Persson, J.. (2009). Decision science: From Ramsey to dual process theories. Synthese

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1007/s11229-009-9472-5
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De Neys, W.. (2017). Dual process theory 2.0. Dual Process Theory 2.0

Plain numerical DOI: 10.4324/9781315204550
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Reyna, V. F.. (2004). How People Make Decisions That Involve Risk: A Dual-Processes Approach. Current Directions in Psychological Science

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1111/j.0963-7214.2004.00275.x
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Bago, B., & De Neys, W.. (2017). Fast logic?: Examining the time course assumption of dual process theory. Cognition

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2016.10.014
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