Script: The Basics of Psychology for Christian Ministry
Homework Assignments

2.3 Dual-Process Theory and Levels of Consciousness

The general idea that the human mind consists of two separate tracks to process information has been presented in different forms over the past several decades:

  • Jonathan Evans (2003) distinguished between Type-I processing, which is fast and efficient, and Type-II processing, a more deliberate and much slower way of thinking and evaluating information. 
  • Brainerd and Reyna (2002) focused on the influence of memory limitations on thinking. According to their fuzzy-trace theory people often rely on simplified gist representations of facts in their memories rather than accessing the full, comprehensive account, which would involve collecting, verifying, and careful processing of information.
  • Allan Paivio developed the dual-coding model of information processing. Based on this theory there are two complementary systems which both rely on different brain areas. The non-verbal, visual system functions more efficiently than the verbal system. Learning works best when information is processed both, visually and verbally.  
  • In their elaboration likelihood model of persuasion Richard E. Petty and John Cacioppo (1986) proposed that the first (or central) route of persuasion is activated when a person is highly motivated and has the ability to actively create an argument through careful thinking. The second (or peripheral route) is in place when someone is not motivated or able to reflect more deeply but uses shortcuts to come to a decision. 
  • Commonly used in organizational management settings is Herbert Simon’s model of bounded rationality. Due to constraints in time, motivation, and resources, people in search of a solution will often stop searching for the best possible outcome once they have found a reasonably satisfying solution. He called this satisfying versus optimizing.

The idea of a dual system or process in mental functioning has been supported by findings from neurological research indicating that there are different, parallel levels of processing the same information in the brain – a conscious level, which is accessible to verbal thinking and reasoning, and an unconscious level which involves an automatic and much faster process. The unconscious processing precedes and usually primes conscious thinking.