Submission Date


Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access



Faculty Mentor

Jennifer Stevenson


Presented during the 21st Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 19, 2019 at Ursinus College.

Study design and literature review for Honors Research 2019-2020.

Project Description

This study investigates factors involved in decision-making, particularly cognitive style, moral reasoning, receptivity to pseudo-profound nonsense, 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. The effect of self-reported autistic traits and mood on reasoning and cognitive style will be the focus of data collection. Additionally, eye-tracking data may provide support for one or both models of Dual Process Theory during decision-making processes.

The purpose of this study is to investigate the Dual Process Theory as a plausible model for explaining differences in reasoning found in those who are autistic or high in autistic traits. If the predicted associations are found, enhanced cognitive reflection, utilitarian reasoning, actively open-minded thinking, and skepticism about pseudo-profound nonsense may be considered strengths which come with autistic traits. If such decision-making abilities are identified as autistic strengths, it becomes worthwhile to consider how autistic people, and those who are high in autistic traits, may be an untapped resource for conditions and occupations requiring sound, thoughtful judgment.