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Thinking intuitively: the rich (and at times illogical) world of concepts

Hampton, J. A. (2012). Thinking intuitively: the rich (and at times illogical) world of concepts. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21(6), pp. 398-402. doi: 10.1177/0963721412457364


Intuitive knowledge of the world involves knowing what kinds of things have which properties. We express it in generalities such as “ducks lay eggs”. It contrasts with extensional knowledge about actual individuals in the world, which we express in quantified statements such as “All US Presidents are male”. Reasoning based on this intuitive knowledge, while highly fluent and plausible may in fact lead us into logical fallacy. Several lines of research point to our conceptual memory as the source of this logical failure. We represent concepts with prototypical properties, judging likelihood and argument strength on the basis of similarity between ideas. Evidence that our minds represent the world in this intuitive way can be seen in a range of phenomena, including how people interpret logical connectives applied to everyday concepts, studies of creativity and emergence in conceptual combination, and demonstrations of the logically inconsistent beliefs that people express in their everyday language.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: concepts, intension, reasoning, logic
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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