Macquarie University
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Expertise and reasoning: dual process versus modular approaches

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posted on 2022-03-28, 15:32 authored by Zoe Purcell
Dual process theories suggest that reasoning involves autonomous (Type 1) processes and effortful (Type 2) processes. In contrast, modular theories of reasoning assert that the mind consists of a multitude of in- out- information processors (modules). The Cognitive Reflections Test (CRT) (Frederick, 2005) contains three worded maths problems for which the intuitive answer is incorrect. It has often been used to support dual process theory. This thesis contains two experiments that examine the influence of font fluency (Experiment 1) and cognitive load (Experiment 2) on the CRT, and how these effects vary between participants with different levels of mathematical expertise (math and non-math participants). Changes in font fluency had no effect on CRT performance. Performance of math participants decreased under load but remained higher than non-math participants. Cognitive load did not affect the performance of non-maths participants who performed consistently poorly compared to math participants. In both experiments, math participants outperformed non-math participants. The results suggest that expertise is a key factor in problem solving and that both dual-process and modular theories can support the present finding. However, this thesis suggests that research investigating the role of expertise in reasoning may benefit from using a modular reasoning framework.


Table of Contents

1. Introduction -- 2. General method -- 3. Experiment 1 -- 4. Experiment 2 -- 5. General discussion.


Bibliography: pages 57-62 Theoretical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Psychology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Colin Wastell


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