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Thinking Strategies. Thinking Strategies. Reasoning The process by which we generate arguments, evaluate them, and reach conclusions Formal Reasoning Informal Reasoning. Formal/Logical Reasoning. The Mental procedures that yield a valid conclusion

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Thinking strategies1
Thinking Strategies

  • Reasoning

    • The process by which we generate arguments, evaluate them, and reach conclusions

      • Formal Reasoning

      • Informal Reasoning

Formal logical reasoning
Formal/Logical Reasoning

  • The Mental procedures that yield a valid conclusion

    • Algorithms are systematic methods that always reach a correct result if correctly applied.

y + z = r2

Informal reasoning
Informal Reasoning

  • People tend to use heuristics, or mental shortcuts, rather than algorithms

    • Do not always yield a correct solution

The anchoring heuristic
The Anchoring Heuristic

  • The Anchoring Heuristic, also know as focalism, refers to the human tendency to accept and rely on, the first piece of information received before making a decision.

    • That first piece of information is the anchor and sets the tone for everything that follows. 

  • Ex:

    A car dealer might suggest a price for a car and the customer will try to negotiate down from that price, even if the price suggested is more than the Blue Book Value.

The representative heuristic
The Representative Heuristic

  • The Representative Heuristic occurs when people decide whether an example belongs in a certain class on the basis of how similar it is to other items in that class

  • Ex:

    Chen attends a school where the average GPA is around a 3.0. Chen pushes himself to do well academically in addition to participating in a variety of activities, including: Chess club, Asian-American Club, Debate Club, and Latin Club. He is also the treasurer of the National Honor Society.

    What do you think is Chen’s GPA?

Representative heuristic
Representative Heuristic

  • Another Example:

    • Sarah loves to listen to New Age music and faithfully reads her horoscope each day. In her spare time, she enjoys aromatherapy and attending a local spirituality group.

    • Based on the information above, is Sarah more likely to be a teacher, or a holistic healer?

Pros and cons of representative heuristics
Pros and Cons of Representative Heuristics

  • Making judgments based upon representativeness is intended to work as a type of mental shortcut, allowing us to make decisions quickly.

    • However, it can also lead to errors.

    • When we make decisions based on representativeness, we may be likely to make more errors and more likely to overestimate the likelihood that something will occur.

      • Just because an event or object is representative does not mean that it is more likely to occur.

The availability heuristic
The Availability Heuristic

  • The Availability Heuristic involves judging the likelihood of an event or the correctness of a hypothesis based on how easily the hypothesis or examples of that event come to mind

    • How “Available” is the information to you?

  • Ex:

    After reading an article about lottery winners, you start to overestimate your own likelihood of winning the jackpot. You start spending more money than you should each week on lottery tickets.

The availability heuristic1
The Availability Heuristic

  • For example, after seeing several news reports about car thefts, you might make a judgment that vehicle theft is much more common than it really is in your area.

  • After 9/11, Americans reported higher levels of fear associated with flying.

    • Although statistically more dangerous, many chose driving over flying in the months immediately following the attack.

Mental set
Mental Set

  • A tendency to approach a problem in a particular way

  • A well-established habit of perception or thought

  • The set may or may not be helpful in solving a new problem

Functional fixedness
Functional Fixedness

  • Type of mental set

  • Inability to see an object as having a function other than its usual one

  • Have to unlock a door?

    • Use a credit card.

  • Have to tighten a screw without a screwdriver?

    • Use scissors, or a coin

Mounting candle problem
Mounting candle problem

  • Using only the objects present on the right, attach the candle to the bulletin board in such a way that the candle can be lit and will burn properly

Answer to candle problem
Answer to candle problem

  • Most people do not think of using the box for anything other than its normal use (to hold the tacks)

  • To solve the problem, you have to overcome functional fixedness

Nine dots problem
Nine dots problem

  • Without lifting your pencil or re-tracing any line, draw four straight lines that connect all nine dots

Nine dots mental set
Nine dots mental set

  • Most people will not draw lines that extend from the square formed by the nine dots

  • To solve the problem, you have to break your mental set


  • A mental set that hinders the solution of a problem

  • One needs to think beyond the mental set to solve the new problem

Decision making1
Decision Making

  • Single feature model—make a decision by focusing on only one feature

    • Do you use this model in making decisions?

      • Ever choose a date based on looks?

      • Choose a class based on how easy you heard it was?

      • Go see a movie because a friend told you it was good?

      • Choose a restaurant based on price?

Additive model
Additive Model

  • Systematically evaluate the important features of each alternative.

    • First create a list of factors that are important to you.

    • Then rate each alternative on each factor.

      • What factors do you consider when choosing a college?

Elimination by aspects

  • Rate choices based on features.

    • Evaluate each alternative one characteristic at a time, starting with the one you think is most important.

    • Eliminate those that do not meet the desired criteria

  • Over time your alternatives will be narrowed down.

  • We often use this to get our options to a few and then use the additive model to make the final decision.

Bias effects
Bias Effects

  • Confirmation bias—only search for information confirming one’s belief.

    • I dislike Miss Dryer, so anything people say against her will be information I process as fact

  • Belief bias—accept only information that conforms to beliefs

    • I strongly believe that income is the biggest factor in whether or not children complete high school. Discussion of race, ability, and access are not important.

Bias effects1
Bias Effects

  • Fallacy of positive instances—remember uncommon events that confirm our beliefs

    • One time, I saw a shark fin in the water, I will NEVER again go swimming in the ocean—it’s too dangerous!

  • Overestimation—tendency to overestimate rarity of events

    • I never see any news of murders in Jackson, so I’m sure there are hardly ever any

      • Jackson is in the top 100 most dangerous cities in the US!


  • The tendency to be more confident than correct when estimating the accuracy of one’s beliefs and judgments

    • How well do you know your info for this test?

    • How well do you drive in bad weather? In a car? In a jeep?


  • The way an issue is worded or presented can influence decisions and judgments

    • Do you think it is OK to kill unborn children?

    • Do you believe that abortion is an appropriate option for those with unwanted pregnancies?

    • Would you rather buy beef that is 70% lean, or 30% fat?

Belief perseverance
Belief Perseverance

  • The tendency for our preexisting opinions to distort our sense of whether a particular conclusion is logically valid

    • Clinging to one’s initial beliefs even after new information discredits the basis on which they were formed

Strategies for solving problems
Strategies for solving problems

1. Break mental sets – be creative! (see next slide)

2. Find useful analogy

3. Represent information efficiently

4. Find shortcuts

5. Establish sub-goals

6. Turn ill-defined problems into well-defined problems