Many intelligent strategy choices may be accomplished through relatively low-level cognitive processes. This article describes a detailed model of how such "mindless" processes might lead to intelligent choices of strategies in one common situation: that in which people need to choose between stating a retrieved answer and using a backup strategy. Several experiments testing the model's applicability to children's single-digit multiplication are reported. These include tests of predictions about when different strategies are used and how early experience shapes later performance. Then, the sufficiency of the model to generate both performance at any one time and changes in performance over time is tested through the medium of a running computer simulation of children's multiplication. The simulation acquires a considerable amount of multiplication knowledge, and its learning and performance parallel those of children in a number of ways. Finally, several implications of the model for understanding cognitive self- regulation and cognitive development are discussed.
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