The series Psychological studies

Epstein and Brodsky (1988) argued for the existence of another type of intelligence than this rational intelligence, which they named “life experienced based” intelligence. This type of intelligence is based on everyday reasoning and fields quick, automatic and intuitive reactions. The difference between this intelligence and the rational one is that it is based on people’s interpersonal experience and not on the read or studied ones. This way of reasoning help we cope with practical problems and our emotions.

According to Epstein when emotions run high the ‘life experience based’ reasoning takes over because it responds more rabidly that this of rational. The problem he outlines is that experience based which is more emotional, might misinterpret a situation or choose an inappropriate reaction, thus being irrational. We need the rational mind to keep us reasonable and the life experience based one to detect the needs and emotions underlying our actions.

Several studies have been conducted to show that humans under specific conditions and influences can act irrational, or show how people reason in certain environments. One experiment that focused on conjunction problems was Kahneman and Tverky’s (1982). They presented the following statement to nai?? ve subjects. “Linda is 31 years old single, outspoken and very bright. She majored in philosophy. As a student she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations.

” Then participants were presented 8 phrases that were starting a probable profession or habit of Linda. They had to rank the phrases by their probability using one for the most probable. 89% judged that the statement “Linda is a bank teller and is active in feminist movement” was more probable than ‘Linda is a bank teller” despite the fact that one cannot be a feminist bank teller unless one is a bank teller. In a second experiment the participants were graduate students in the decision science program of the Stanford Business School, where 85% gave the same answer.

They named this type of conjunction fallacy reasoning. Another experiment conducted by Wason (1966) examined how conditionals could influence peoples reasoning and was named the selection task. Participants were presented 4-cards from which two cards had a number on the side and two cards had a letter on the side. The claim was if a card has a vowel on one side then it has an odd number on the other side, if the cards were like D, E, 7, 4 the participants had to indicated which of these cards was to be turned in order to determine whether the claim was true.

Wason found that participants answered wrongly and illogically. Only 25% managed the answer correctly. On the other hand a replication of the selection task conducted by Griggs and Cox (1982) showed some different results, where the performance of participants improves very much. Participants were presented four cards statement and the task they had to accomplish. The statement was as follows: “in its crackdown against drunk drivers, Massachusetts law enforcement officials are revoking liquor licenses left and right.

You’re a bouncer in a Boston bar and you will loose your job unless you enforce the following: If a person is drinking beer, then he must be over 20 years old. After his statement they were presented four cards were drinking beer and drinking coke was written on the side of the first pair and 25 years old, 16 years old was written on the side of the second pair of cards. The experiment was outlining that these four cards were representing people and these were sitting at the participants bar. At one side the cards were presenting what the person is drinking and on the other side the age of the person.

The participants had to choose which cards to turn over so as to see if any of these persons was breaking the law. About 75% of college student participants got the right answer on this version of the selection task. This showed that the different conditionals influenced the reasoning of participants who showed such a high performance. Another experiment which referred in the way people combine sources of information and specifically how they use base rate information in making probabilistic judgments was conducted by Kahneman and Tvensky (1973).

Half of the participants were presented and following story: “A panel of psychologists have interviewed and administrated personality tests to 30 engineers and 70 lawyers, all successful in their respective fields. On the basis of this information, thumbnail descriptions of the 30 engineers and 70 lawyers have been written. You will find on you forms five descriptions, chosen at random from the 100 available descriptions. For each description please indicate your probability that the person described is an engineer, on a scale from 0 to 100.

The other half of the participants were presented with the same story but the base rates were reversed. The difference was that they were told that the personality tests had been administrated 70 engineers and 30 lawyers. Some descriptions were made so as to agree with the participant’s stereotypes of engineers and not with this for lawyers. Other was made all the way round and one was made to be neutral, were subjects weren’t given any information helping them to their decision. For the first two the participants were not sensitive to base rate formation and as for the base rate.

With this experiment Tversky and Kahneman (1973) showed that people respond differently when given no specific evidence and when given worthless evidence. When no specific evidence was given the prior probabilities were utilized and when worthless specific evidence was given, prior probabilities were ignored. So as it was showed from all these experiments that were conducted in the past and all this information about all the multiple ways of reasoning and information processing, we can conclude that humans are rational. Rationality is what helped out evolution throughout the centuries and plays a big role in our existence.

This is what makes humans differ from animals. But people can think and act irrational because they are acting in bad information. As we have seen people can be irrational while using syllogisms or conditionals but they can also be irrational while being influenced by a group which belongs in. If a person’s friends and relatives tend to have a particular view, he is most probable to adopt it. The desire by people to be accepted by their group determines many factors in their lives, and one of these is rationality in human behavior is the religious and all the other spiritual beliefs.

The acceptance of religious beliefs is based on blind faith and on the fear of people for the unknown which lies after death. Such fears lead them to just accept religion, without any rational thinking. Also overconfidence might lead a person to act irrationally. But as an action has its reaction, as light comes from darkness, as without the existence of good, there wouldn’t be bad, the rationality exists with its opposite irrationality. One can not exist without the presence of the other.


De Groot Adriann, (1965) Thought and choice in Chess, in the series Psychological studies, 4, Paris: Mouton & co, Evans, J. St. B and Over, D. E. Rationality and Reasoning ch1 Epstein, S & Bronsky, A (1993). You are smarter than you think: How to develop your practical intelligence for success in living. New York: Simon & Schuster Faris, Ellsworth (1937): The Nature of Human Nature. McGraw-Hill, New York. Griggs, R. and Cox, J. (1982). The elusive thematic-materials affect in Wason’s selection task. British Journal of Psychology, 73, 407-420 Jerry Fodor, (1975). The Language of Thought, Harvard University Press

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