Our extraordinary capacity to reason and solve problems sets us aside from other animals, but our evolved thinking processes also leave us susceptibile 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 behaviourists 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.
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Jonathan St B. T. Evans is Emeritus Professor at the School of Psychology, Plymouth University, where he was previously Professor of Cognitive Psychology. He has spent his entire career in the study of thinking and reasoning, and was involved in setting up the journal of the same name (published by Taylor and Francis). He has authored a number of books, including Hypothetical Thinking (Psychology Press, 2007) and Thinking Twice (OUP, 2010), and two with the philosopher David Over, presenting a new theory of conditionals (Rationality and Reasoning, Psychology Press, 1996; If, OUP, 2004).