Thinking and Reasoning (2020/2021)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Roberto Burro
Roberto Burro
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Sem. 2A dal Feb 15, 2021 al Apr 1, 2021.

Lesson timetable

Go to lesson schedule

Learning outcomes

This course will cover the main contemporary theories of human thinking and reasoning, including perceptual processes, logical and analogical reasoning, and probabilistic reasoning. In addition, it will cover classic research on problem solving and decision making, the mental model theory, as well as heuristics and biases in judgement. By the end of the course students will be able to: - understand the historical framework, in which theories and experimental researches concerning psychology of thinking and reasoning has been developed, also developing a deep comprehension of the psychological constructs in the field, - develop knowledge and comprehension of the terms relating to Decision Making and Problem Solving.


- Mind automatically vs serial mind
- System 1 vs System 2
- Interactions between system 1 and system 2
- Interactions: seeing vs knowing
- Interactions: the search for a compromise
- Cognitive effort and mental laziness
- Cognitive effort and mydriasis

- More on cognitive effort
- Optimal cognitive effort
- Cognitive effort and self-control
- The depletion of the self
- Depletion of the ego and blood glucose
- The lazy system 2
- Relationship between intelligence, control and rationality
- The associative mechanism (of system 1)
- The priming effect
- The ideomotor priming effect
- The reversed ideomotor priming effect

- Priming and stimuli
- The Lady Macbeth effect
- Cognitive fluency
- Cognitive fluidity, memory illusions and déjà vu
- Illusions of truth
- How to be persuasive
- Tension and cognitive effort
- The pleasure of cognitive fluency
- The exposure effect
- Creativity, fluency, mood and intuition
- Surprise and normality
- Communication and normality
- Causality and intention

- Jump to intuitive conclusions and mistakes
- Jump to conclusions, context and recency
- Belief bias
- Confirmation bias
- Bias "halo effect"
- WYSIATI: What You See Is All There Is
- WYSIATI and judgment and choice bias
- How are judgments formed?
- Basic evaluations (series and prototypes)
- Intensity matching
- The "mental smack"
- Heuristic substitution of questions
- 3D heuristics
- Heuristics of mood and happiness
- Heuristics of affection

- The difficult relationship between the mind and statistics
- Variability
- The law of small numbers
- The bias of certainty with respect to doubt
- Cause and case
- Cause, case and cognitive illusions
- Anchoring effect
- Anchoring effect as adjustment and as priming
- The anchor index
- Reasonableness / randomness of the anchor
- Anchoring and arbitrary rationing
- Anchoring and threats
- Estimate the frequency of a category
- Availability heuristics

- Availability heuristics, emotion and risk
- Audience vs experts
- Cascade of availability
- The risk assessment
- The evaluation of probability
- A priori probability and heuristics of representativeness
- The ambiguities of the heuristic of representativeness
- Representativeness heuristics and system 2
- Disciplining intuition to Bayesian logic
- Heuristics vs logic: less is more
- Fallacy of the conjunction
- Persuasive vs probable
- Single evaluation vs joint evaluation
- Probability, money and joint evaluation
- Probability vs frequency

- The causes beat the statistics
- Random stereotypes
- Statistical and random a priori probabilities
- Do you teach more "from general to particular" or "from particular to general"?
- Regression towards the average
- Understanding regression
- Regressive considerations
- Correct intuitive predictions
- Non-regressive intuitions
- A test for the correction of intuitive predictions

- Excessive security: the illusion of understanding
- The hindsight and past states of knowledge
- The hindsight bias and the result bias
- The recipes of success and halo effect
- The illusion of validity
- The illusion of skill
- The illusion of the gurus
- Insights against formulas
- Multiple vs unweighted regression
- Hostility (of clinicians) towards algorithms
- The man-machine moral issue
- How to make good predictions: build a simple algorithm

- Expert intuition, intuition as recognition
- Acquire competence
- Doubts about expert intuition
- Expert intuition vs algorithms
- Regularities easily or hardly discovered: the role of feedback
- Evaluate the validity of an intuition
- Internal vs external vision
- The fallacy of planning
- The optimistic bias
- Excessive security
- The positivity of optimism
- The "pre-mortem" method

- Choices and theories
- The theory of utility learned
- The position of Bernoulli
- The theory of the prospect
- Bernoulli's mistake
- Aversion to loss
- The blind spots of prospect theory

- The reference point
- Donation effect
- Negative events
- The asymmetric intensity of the motivations
- Subjective reference and aversion to loss
- Weights and probabilities
- Change the odds
- Possibility effect and certainty effect
- We are willing to pay for uncertainty
- Decision-making weights
- The 4-cell scheme
- Rare events
- Overestimation and overweight
- Vibrance of representation
- Carelessness for the denominator
- The power of the format
- Framing

- The tilt effect
- Inclination and fallacy effect of sunk costs
- The regret
- Blame
- Emotions, regret and guilt
- The importance of contrasting alternatives
- The inversions of preference
- Categories of judgment and intensity matching
- Framing effect
- Good and bad frames
- Experience and memory
- Happy ending and coincidences
- Well-being

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Kahneman Daniel Pensieri lenti e veloci Mondadori 2019 8804671955

Assessment methods and criteria

Following the health emergency due to Covid-19, the usual examination procedures are changed, in accordance with the indications of the University. Specifically: "the exam will be held orally using Zoom".

The exam taken during an official call will consist of a 30 minutes multiple choice question (30) (3 answers alternatives, only one of which is correct.) For the final judgment expressed in thirtieths, a correct answer has value equal to 1 point, an incorrect answer has a value equal to 0 points, an answer not given has a value equal to 0 points).