Dual-processing accounts of reasoning, judgment, and social cognition

Annu Rev Psychol. 2008:59:255-78. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.59.103006.093629.


This article reviews a diverse set of proposals for dual processing in higher cognition within largely disconnected literatures in cognitive and social psychology. All these theories have in common the distinction between cognitive processes that are fast, automatic, and unconscious and those that are slow, deliberative, and conscious. A number of authors have recently suggested that there may be two architecturally (and evolutionarily) distinct cognitive systems underlying these dual-process accounts. However, it emerges that (a) there are multiple kinds of implicit processes described by different theorists and (b) not all of the proposed attributes of the two kinds of processing can be sensibly mapped on to two systems as currently conceived. It is suggested that while some dual-process theories are concerned with parallel competing processes involving explicit and implicit knowledge systems, others are concerned with the influence of preconscious processes that contextualize and shape deliberative reasoning and decision-making.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution
  • Cognition*
  • Consciousness / physiology
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Problem Solving*
  • Psychological Theory
  • Social Perception*