The Abstract Selection Task: Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis
The thesis of the original research on the abstract selection task was that the task required reasoning and that individuals varied in their ability to reason effectively. On this view, the reasons individuals gave reflected their analysis and hence could be used to infer psychological process. The antithesis proposed, on the contrary, that individuals were not reasoning at all and that card selection reflected preconscious processes of relevance. On this proposal, reasons were merely rationalisations for actions already chosen and could not therefore be used to infer anything about the psychological processes preceding action. Despite its undoubted successes this chapter questions some aspects of the latter proposal and some of the evidence adduced in support of it. It moots a synthesis in which card selection is the result of an internal process of argumentation. In essence, it proposes that selections reflect a competition between alternative courses ofaction. The actions chosen are the ones that make most sense to the individual. Such a view connects individual cognition to the social context in which cognitive processes operate.