Submission Date


Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access




Jennifer Stevenson

Committee Member

Lauren Makuch

Committee Member

Catherine Chambliss

Department Chair

Brent Mattingly

Project Description

This study investigates factors involved in decision-making, particularly cognitive style, moral reasoning, receptivity to pseudo-profound bullshit, autistic traits, and mood. The Dual Process Theory of reasoning proposes there are two distinct cognitive styles underlying reasoning; the default quick, intuitive system requires less effort and is prone to errors and biases, which are identified and corrected by a second system of slower, reflective, deliberative, and effortful thought (referred to as cognitive reflection). However, other researchers suggest some reflective individuals, especially those who are autistic or high in autistic traits, are predisposed to initially applying reflective thought in various decision-making contexts without needing to detect and correct an initial intuitive response. Contrary to my hypothesis, I did not find evidence of autistic traits having a discernible influence on cognitive reflection. However, actively open-minded thinking associated with cognitive reflection and its cognitively miserly converse, exemplified in this study by the Utilitarian Moral Reasoning scale concerning religiosity and unusually high perception of profundity in mundane statements, illustrated the pattern of enhanced utilitarian reasoning and reduced receptivity to pseudo-profound bullshit previously associated with cognitive reflection. Further data analysis will reveal the direction of such relationships and possible mediators and predictors in those relationships. Future studies with an autistic comparison group are recommended.