Skip to main content Accessibility help

The evolution of analytic thought?

  • Gordon Pennycook (a1) and David G. Rand (a1)


We argue that the truly unique aspect of human intelligence is not the variety of cognitive skills that are ontogenetically constructed, but rather the capacity to decide when to develop and apply said skills. Even if there is good evidence for g in nonhuman animals, we are left with major questions about how the disposition to think analytically can evolve.



Hide All
Bear, A. & Rand, D. G. (2016a) Intuition, deliberation, and the evolution of cooperation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 113:16. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1517780113.
Bear, A. & Rand, D. G. (2016b) Modeling intuition's origins. Journal of Applied Memory & Cognition 5:341–44.
Bear, A., Kagan, A. & Rand, D. G. (2016) Co -evolution of cooperation and cognition: The impact of imperfect deliberation and context-sensitive intuition. (November 1, 2016). Available at SSRN:
Browne, M., Thomson, P., Rockloff, M. & Pennycook, G. (2015) Going against the herd: Understanding the psychosocial factors underlying the “vaccination confidence gap”. PLoS One 10:e1032562.
Frederick, S. (2005) Cognitive reflection and decision making. The Journal of Economic Perspectives 19:2542.
Gervais, W. (2015) Override the controversy: Analytic thinking predicts endorsement of evolution. Cognition 142:312–21.
Gervais, W. M. & Norenzayan, A. (2012) Analytic thinking promotes religious disbelief. Science 336:493–96.
Grimm, V. & Mengel, F. (2011) Let me sleep on it: Delay reduces rejection rates in ultimatum games. Economics Letters 111:113–15.
Halali, E., Bereby-Meyer, Y. & Meiran, N. (2014) Between self-interest and reciprocity: The social bright side of self-control failure. Journal of Experiment Psychology: General 143:745–54.
Kahneman, D. (2011) Thinking, fast and slow. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Kahneman, D. & Frederick, S. (2005) A model of heuristic judgement. In: The Cambridge handbook of thinking and reasoning, ed. Holyoak, K. J. & Morrison, R. G., pp. 267–93. Cambridge University Press.
MacLean, E. L., Hare, B., Nunn, C. L., Addessi, E., Amici, F., Anderson, R. C., Aureli, F., Baker, J. M., Bania, A. E., Barnard, A. M., Boogert, N. J., Brannon, E. M., Bray, E. E., Bray, J., Brent, L. J. N., Burkart, J. M., Call, J., Cantlon, J. F., Cheke, L. G., Clayton, N. S., Delgado, M. M., DiVinventi, L. J., Fujita, K., Herrmann, E., Hiramatsu, C., Jacobs, L. F., Jordan, K. E., Laude, J. R., Leimgruber, K. L., Messer, E. J. E., Moura, A. C. de, A., Ostojic, L., Picard, A., Platt, M. L., Plotnik, J. M., Range, F., Reader, S. M., Reddy, R. B., Sandel, A. A., Santos, L. R., Schumann, K., Seed, A. M., Sewall, K. B., Shaw, R. C., Slocombe, K. E., Yanjie, S., Takimoto, A., Tan, J., Tao, R., van Schaik, C. P., Viranyi, Z., Visalberghi, E., Wade, J. C., Watanabe, A., Widness, J., Young, J. K., Zentall, T. R. & Zhao, Y. (2014) The evolution of self-control. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 111:E2140–48.
Pennycook, G., Cheyne, J. A., Barr, N., Koehler, D. J. & Fugelsang, J. A. (2014) The role of analytic thinking in moral judgements and values. Thinking & Reasoning 20:188214.
Pennycook, G., Cheyne, J. A., Barr, N., Koehler, D. J. & Fugelsang, J. A. (2015a) On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit. Judgment and Decision Making 10:549–63.
Pennycook, G., Cheyne, J. A., Koehler, D. J. & Fugelsang, J. A. (2016a) Is the cognitive reflection test a measure of both reflection and intuition? Behavior Research Methods 48:341–48.
Pennycook, G., Cheyne, J. A., Seli, P., Koehler, D. J. & Fugelsang, J. A. (2012) Analytic cognitive style predicts religious and paranormal belief. Cognition 123:335–46.
Pennycook, G., Fugelsang, J. A. & Koehler, D. J. (2015b) Everyday consequences of analytic thinking. Current Directions in Psychological Science 24:425–43.
Pennycook, G., Ross, R., Koehler, D. J. & Fugelsang, J. A. (2016b) Atheists and agnostics are more reflective than religious believers: Four empirical studies and a meta-analysis. PLoS One 11:e0153039.
Rand, D. G. (2016) Cooperation, fast and slow: Meta-analytic evidence for a theory of social heuristics and self-interested deliberation. Psychological Science 27:1192–206. doi: 10.1177/0956797616654455.
Rand, D. G., Brescoll, V. L., Everett, J. A. C., Capraro, V. & Barcelo, H. (2016) Social heuristics and social roles: Altruism is intuitive for women but not for men. Journal of Experiment Psychology: General 145:389–96.
Rand, D. G., Greene, J. D. & Nowak, M. A. (2012) Spontaneous giving and calculated greed. Nature 498:427–30.
Rand, D. G., Peysakhovich, A., Kraft-Todd, G. T., Newman, G. E., Wurzbacher, O., Nowak, M. A. & Greene, J. D. (2014) Social heuristics shape intuitive cooperation. Nature Communications 5:3677. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4677.
Rosati, A. G. & Santos, L. R. (2016) Spontaneous metacognition in Rhesus monkeys. Psychological Science 27:1181–91. doi: 10.1177/0956797616653737.
Royzman, E. B., Landy, J. F. & Goodwin, G. P. (2014) Are good reasoners more incest-friendly? Trait cognitive reflection predicts selective moralization in a sample of American adults. Judgment and Decision Making 9:176–90.
Shenhav, A., Rand, D. G. & Greene, J. D. (2012) Divine intuition: Cognitive style influences belief in God. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 141:423–28.
Shtulman, A. & McCallum, K. (2014) Cognitive reflection predicts science understanding. In: Proceedings of the 36th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, Quebec, ON, July 2014, pp. 2937–42. Erlbaum.
Stanovich, K. E. (2009a) Is it time for a tri-process theory? Distinguishing the reflective and algorithmic mind. In: In two minds: Dual processes and beyond, ed. Evans, J. St. B. T. & Frankish, K., pp. 5588. Oxford University Press.
Stanovich, K. E. (2009b) What intelligence tests miss: The psychology of rational thought. Yale University Press.
Stanovich, K. E. (2011) Rationality and the reflective mind. Oxford University Press.
Stanovich, K. E. & West, R. F. (1998) Individual differences in rational thought. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 127:161–88.
Stanovich, K. E. & West, R. F. (2000) Individual differences in reasoning: Implications for the rationality debate? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 23:645726.
Sutter, M., Kocher, M. & Strauß, S. (2003) Bargaining under time pressure in an experimental ultimatum game. Economics Letters 81:341–47.
Swami, V., Voracek, M., Stieger, S., Tran, U. S. & Furnham, A. (2014) Analytic thinking reduces belief in conspiracy theories. Cognition 133:572–85.
Tomlin, D. A., Rand, D. G., Ludvig, E. A. & Cohen, J. D. (2015) The evolution and devolution of cognitive control: The costs of deliberation in a competitive world. Scientific Reports 5:11002. doi: 10.1038/srep11002.
Toupo, D. F. P., Strogatz, S. H., Cohen, J. D. & Rand, D. G. (2015) Evolutionary game dynamics of controlled and automatic decision-making. Chaos 25:073120. Available at:

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

The evolution of analytic thought?

  • Gordon Pennycook (a1) and David G. Rand (a1)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.