Thinking and decision-making

The IB say…

“Thinking involves using information and doing something with it, for example, deciding something. Thinking and decision-making are thus closely related. Thinking is based on factors such as concepts, processes, and goals. Modern research into thinking and decision-making often refers to rational (controlled) and intuitive thinking (automatic). There is an increasing understanding of how emotions may influence thinking and the decision-making process because the consequences of decisions result in the experiencing of emotions and many of our choices are guided by the experience of or anticipation of such emotions. Relevant concepts related to studying thinking and decision-making could be but are not limited to

  • framing
  • heuristics
  • loss aversion
  • appraisal.

There are two systems models of thinking:

  • system 1—intuitive, automatic, quick and requiring limited effort, influenced by biases
  • system 2—rational, goal directed, requires intentional effort and time, analyses/controls for biases.

Models of thinking and decision-making that could be studied include:

  • theory of reasoned action and theory of planned behaviour (concerned with the relationship between attitudes and behaviour when making choices)
  • the adaptive decision-maker framework including emotions and goals in the decision process
  • mindset theory arguing that thinking about one’s ability is related to decisions of investment in performance.

HLs: Digital technology and thinking and decision making

  • The influence of digital technology on thinking, decision making  and human interaction.
  • The positive and negative effects of digital technology on thinking and decision making
  • Methods used to study the interaction between digital technology and thinking and decision making

From 2020: Exam questions can include the terms: Intuitive thinking (aka System I thinking) and Rational thinking (aka System II thinking)


system 1 and 2 thinking

carmichael et al

upper lower L and R

Dijksterhuis (2004) houses

Dijksterhuis original paper: dijksterhuis2004

Wider reading on Wason:

Online version of the Stroop Test which Kahneman cites in his boo as an example of system 1 and 2 thinking in conflict:

Assessment questions

SAQ: Explain one theory or model of thinking or decision making with reference to one study. (9) – SAQ T and D 

ERQ: Evaluate research into thinking and decision-making. (22)