Unconscious vs. Conscious Thought in Causal Decision Making


Recently, Unconscious Thought Theory (UTT, Dijksterhuis & Nordgren, 2006) claimed that unconscious processing of in-formation yields better decisions. Related studies showed that deliberate reasoning resulted in worse choices than uncon-scious reasoning. Causal reasoning is often considered to be a form of deliberate, rule-based reasoning (Sloman, 1996) and causal decision making is assumed to involve inferring the potential consequences of different actions from mental causal models (Sloman & Hagmayer, 2006). Therefore, better choices would be expected after deliberation. Two experiments investigated causal decision making using the UTT paradigm. It turned out that more effective actions were chosen, when participants were asked to deliberate rather than to turn their attention to another task or to decide immediately. These results add to other findings indicating that the superiority of unconscious thought may be limited to specific decision making situations.

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