Research says there is system 1 and 2 thinking.

My question is how is system and and 2 thinking related to unconcious mind? Can we say for example system 1 thinking is unconcious mind?


2 Answers 2


Peter Carruthers argues (2014) that system 1 doesn't quite overlap with unconscious thinking:

I shall argue that there is, indeed, a real, scientifically valid, distinction between a set of intuitive, unconsciously operating reasoning systems, on the one hand, and a reflective system whose operations are partly conscious, on the other. But I shall argue that this division fails to line up with many of the other properties generally associated with Systems 1 and 2. In particular, some intuitive systems can be slow, some can be controlled, and some can approach the highest normative standards; so the moniker «quick and dirty» is certainly inappropriate when applied to intuitive reasoning as such.

And Jonathan Evans (2014), a dual-process theorist but also strong critic of UTT, writes:

It is true that the distinction between conscious and nonconscious processing has been emphasised by some social psychologists (e.g., Wilson 2002), but it is emphatically not the foundation for contemporary dual-process theories of reasoning and decision making. As a dual-process theorist, I have argued, in common with others, that the conscious/unconscious decision cannot be the basis for the dual-process distinction because it is too vague and fails to define the key central properties of dual processing (Evans & Stanovich 2013). I should also point out that in spite of defending the validity of much of the research that N&S criticise here, I have in common with them critiqued unconscious thinking theory and other strong assertions of the powers of intuition (see Evans 2010, Ch. 4). This is because dual-process theory confines powers of reflective reasoning – and with it the ability to deal with novel and difficult problems – to Type 2 processing. The case for dual process is in fact based not on the conscious/ unconscious distinction but on the claim that there are two forms of cognitive processing which have distinctive properties and which reflect the operation of distinct cognitive and neural systems. Most of these properties are merely typical correlates, and few are defining features (Evans & Stanovich 2013). I agree with Stanovich that Type 2 processing is distinguished both by its cognitive resources (central working memory, correlation with measures of cognitive capacity) and by its ability to engage in cognitive decoupling and hypothetical thinking. The apparent link of dual-process theory with consciousness comes only from the fact that some of the items attended in working memory are available to verbal report. But using broader definitions of consciousness, I have argued in detail that both Type 1 and Type 2 thinking have aspects that are conscious as well as unconscious (Evans 2010, Ch. 7). In conclusion, not only do I reject the authors’ presumption of conscious decision making, which I believe to be shakily founded on folk psychology, but I also contest their implication that the conscious/unconscious distinction is the basis for contemporary theories of dual processing in higher cognition.


Another classic distinction was given by Bargh in 1997 that helps show muddling (lack of clear overlap) between the dual-systems concept and how the unconscious is defined by psychologists:

Unconscious cognition is more likely to be one or more: outside awareness, not intended, relatively fast, and difficult to control.



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