Our extraordinary capacity to reason and solve problems sets us aside from other animals, but our evolved thinking processes also leave us susceptible to bias and error. The study of thinking and reasoning goes back to Aristotle, and was one of the first topics to be studied when psychology separated from philosophy.
In this Very Short Introduction Jonathan Evans explores cognitive psychological approaches to understanding the nature of thinking and reasoning, problem solving, and decision making. He shows how our problem solving capabilities are hugely dependent on also having the imagination to ask the right questions, and the ability to see things from a completely new perspective. Beginning by considering the approaches of the behaviorists and the Gestalt psychologists, he moves on to modern explorations of thinking, including hypothetical thinking, conditionals, deduction, rationality, and intuition. Covering the role of past learning, IQ, and cognitive biases, Evans also discusses the idea that there may be two different ways of thinking, arising from our evolutionary history.
ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
This new addition to the "very short introduction" series a highly readable and thought provoking read ... This text is ideal reading for those studying psychology, problem solving, philosophy, cognitive bias, research design, evidence based practice, and anyone curious about why we think, reason and make choices. * Kate Jack, Nursing Times *
No one in our field but Jonathan Evans could pack so much information and erudition into such a small space. Only Evans could have spanned the areas of reasoning and decision making and tied them together through his deep knowledge of dual-process theory and hypothetical thinking. * Advance praise from Keith E. Stanovich, Emeritus Professor of Applied Psychology and Human Development, University of Toronto *
Jonathan Evans, a leading cognitive psychologist, has written an account of studies of thinking and reasoning, condensing a vast range of topics into an amazingly succinct synopsis. * Advance praise from Philip Johnson-Laird, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Princeton University *
1: Introduction and history
2: Problem solving
3: Thinking hypothetically
4: Decision making
6: Are we rational?
7: From dual processes to two minds