Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Think Slow: Some Benefits of Cognitive Reflection

Here's a simple question:

A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?
________________

What answer did you give? In a study at Princeton, those answering 10 cents were significantly less patient than people answering 5 cents (yes, the answer is 5 cents - do it with x's).

From the Journal of Economic Perspectives comes this interesting reflection on the CRT or Cognitive Reflection Test. Highly reflective individuals tend to be more patient (they are more likely to opt for delay gratification choices involving money or massages, pay less than a median person for express shipping, etc.) and they are more likely to be men.



In general, higher CRT also correlated with other measures of achievement like the SAT and ACT, and long-term benefits in financial decision making. An interesting point to consider is how reflective and intuitive thinking (ala Blink) may be oppositional. There are many situations in which "instantaeous" or intuitive thinking would beat out slow, but we'll leave that for a future post.

For more informative articles on reflective thinking and teaching, check out the links below.

CRT: Cognitive Reflection and Decision Making
Reflective Thought, Critical Thinking. ERIC Digest
Teaching Reflective Skills in an Engineering Course
Reflective Teaching, Reflective Learning, book chapter
Eide Neurolearning Blog: The Examined Life: Cultivating Self-Reflection and the Return of Socratic Thinking
Eide Neurolearning Blog: Direct and Reflected Self-Reflection

3 comments:

  1. Excellent articles and links to other post that has been good for my own thinking.

    It is also interesting to look at self-reflection or the capacity to do so as an essential task that clients learn as part of undergoing psychotherapy. I see this particularly in working with clients suffering borderline personality disorder now call affect regulation (or disregulation) disorder. These clients have little or know capacity for self-reflection. They respond to their environment in very black and white terms almost as if they have no frontal cortex but only an over active amygdala in place. The process of psychotherapy forces them to self reflect, an hour or two a week over two to three years, once this self reflective capacity has been learnt then they can much more readily take on problem solving skills for their life.

    I think a difference needs to be drawn between the capacity to self reflect and taking time to fully analyse a problem. Self reflection in terms of ones own abilities, capacities and behaviours involves more than just problem analysis but also the ability to acknowledge aspects of the self one may not be totally comfortable with.

    The CRT paper is an interesting one however one thing it neglects is the role of personality in risk taking. There is a good amount of research around showing that risk taking across a number of domains is related to a number of aspects of the big five personality factors (+E, +O, -C and impulsiveness on N). these are further set of factors that need to be researched in regard to self reflection. I am unsure about the idea of equating lack of self reflection with risk directly as this may be confounding some sperate concepts.

    I certainly endorse the return to promoting Socratic thinking in teaching. I watch my tow sons go to school and being forced to cram facts into their head that they could find in two seconds with a good Google search strategy. Google is like calculators were fifteen years ago. Now everybody teaches children to use them and they are accepted. School seem mired at present with teaching facts not processes. My 11 year old son seems to have far more knowledge of both computers and search techniques than any teacher in the school and it is little different at the University I teach in.

    Chris Allan
    Psychology and the Singularity
    http://gandalwaven.typepad.com/psychology_and_the_singul/

    ReplyDelete
  2. Excellent articles and links to other post that has been good for my own thinking.

    It is also interesting to look at self-reflection or the capacity to do so as an essential task that clients learn as part of undergoing psychotherapy. I see this particularly in working with clients suffering borderline personality disorder now call affect regulation (or disregulation) disorder. These clients have little or know capacity for self-reflection. They respond to their environment in very black and white terms almost as if they have no frontal cortex but only an over active amygdala in place. The process of psychotherapy forces them to self reflect, an hour or two a week over two to three years, once this self reflective capacity has been learnt then they can much more readily take on problem solving skills for their life.

    I think a difference needs to be drawn between the capacity to self reflect and taking time to fully analyse a problem. Self reflection in terms of ones own abilities, capacities and behaviours involves more than just problem analysis but also the ability to acknowledge aspects of the self one may not be totally comfortable with.

    The CRT paper is an interesting one however one thing it neglects is the role of personality in risk taking. There is a good amount of research around showing that risk taking across a number of domains is related to a number of aspects of the big five personality factors (+E, +O, -C and impulsiveness on N). these are further set of factors that need to be researched in regard to self reflection. I am unsure about the idea of equating lack of self reflection with risk directly as this may be confounding some sperate concepts.

    I certainly endorse the return to promoting Socratic thinking in teaching. I watch my tow sons go to school and being forced to cram facts into their head that they could find in two seconds with a good Google search strategy. Google is like calculators were fifteen years ago. Now everybody teaches children to use them and they are accepted. School seem mired at present with teaching facts not processes. My 11 year old son seems to have far more knowledge of both computers and search techniques than any teacher in the school and it is little different at the University I teach in.

    Chris Allan
    Psychology and the Singularity
    http://gandalwaven.typepad.com/psychology_and_the_singul/

    ReplyDelete
  3. Chris,

    Thanks for your thoughtful remarks. Your comments on self-reflection are well-taken. There are many aspects of self-reflection that go beyond problem analysis. Certainly a good understanding of one's preferences, biases, and weaknesses provides a powerful advantage for solving problems.

    We agree that personality traits impact a great deal on risk taking, and that risk-taking is not a single entity.

    It almost seems that with all the ongoing crises in the school, it's unrealistic to think that conventional classes will provide the depth or quality of thinking that will be the most beneficial in future intellectual or creative work.

    When we look back on biographical accounts of very accomplished or inventive people, they generally had parents or other close family members who really provided important role models or intellectual sparring partners in the young lives.

    ReplyDelete