Does the cognitive reflection test measure cognitive reflection? A mathematical modeling approach

  • Campitelli G
  • Gerrans P
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We used a mathematical modeling approach, based on a sample of 2,019 participants, to better understand what the cognitive reflection test (CRT; Frederick In Journal of Economic Perspectives, 19, 25-42, 2005) measures. This test, which is typically completed in less than 10 min, contains three problems and aims to measure the ability or disposition to resist reporting the response that first comes to mind. However, since the test contains three mathematically based problems, it is possible that the test only measures mathematical abilities, and not cognitive reflection. We found that the models that included an inhibition parameter (i.e., the probability of inhibiting an intuitive response), as well as a mathematical parameter (i.e., the probability of using an adequate mathematical procedure), fitted the data better than a model that only included a mathematical parameter. We also found that the inhibition parameter in males is best explained by both rational thinking ability and the disposition toward actively open-minded thinking, whereas in females this parameter was better explained by rational thinking only. With these findings, this study contributes to the understanding of the processes involved in solving the CRT, and will be particularly useful for researchers who are considering using this test in their research.

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  • Guillermo Campitelli

  • Paul Gerrans

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