Sometimes rational thought seems to be bypassed in the brain for more automatic behaviour (shortcuts, instinct, intuition, heuristics):

  • In The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal she writes that high stress can cause automatic 'fight-or-flight' behaviour, which causes the prefrontal cortex for rational thinking to be bypassed. Relaxing yourself can help in reversing the process and becoming more rational again. She calls it the 'stop-and-think' response.

  • In Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman he writes that when someone feels confident that there are no threats facing him their system 2 (rational system) becomes lazy, 'cognitive ease' and starts to depend on heuristics too much.

So, apparently mental shortcuts happen both in situations of high stress (fight or flight) and in situations of confidence and relaxation (cognitive ease).

Question: To what extent is it indeed factually true that both too much relaxation and too much stress can cause mental shortcuts? Please elaborate...


closed as primarily opinion-based by Robin Kramer, Chris Rogers, mfloren, AliceD Aug 14 '17 at 20:34

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ I changed the question to address the criticism that put this question on hold. Now how can I get this question to not on hold anymore? $\endgroup$ – GambitSquared Aug 15 '17 at 10:26