A dual processing approach to complex problem solving
This paper reflects on Dietrich Dörner's observation that participants in complex dynamic control tasks exhibit a "tendency to economize", that is, they tend to minimize cognitive effort. I interpret this observation in terms of a dual processing approach and explore if the reluctance to adopt Type 2 processing could be rooted in biological energy saving. There is evidence that the energy available for the cortex at any point in time is quite limited. Therefore, effortful thinking comes at the cost of neglecting other cortical functions. The proposed dual processing approach to complex problem solving is explored in an experiment where we varied cognitive load by means of a secondary task in order to make Type 1 or Type 2 processing more likely. Results show that cognitive load had no effect on target achievement. Even in the single task condition, many participants prefer Type 1 processing, confirming Dörner's observation.
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