You may know about idea of modeling human mind as having two parts. For example Daniel Kahneman used this model in his book1 and numerous articles, calling it Systems 1 and 2. Other researchers have similar concepts, although they may call it in different way. Stanovich and Evans have a good review of dual process theories2. They also have several points of reasonable criticism. For example, dual-process theorists use multiple and vague definitions. Some definitions can be found in another work of Stanovich: 3. Also proposed attributes of these two processes are not reliably aligned. It may be related to another point: there is a continuum of processing styles, not two discrete processes. They also argue that single process accounts may be offered for dual-process phenomena. And evidence for dual processing may be unconvincing and ambiguous.
Besides this criticism they also offer their definition of two processing types. For the first type they distinguish an autonomous mind; processes of this kind tend to be associative and they do not put a heavy load on processing capacity. Implicit learning and conditioning can work on this level, also rule-based actions can be practiced to the point of automaticity.
The second type of processing is slow, sequential and correlates with measures of general intelligence. In the same time the fist type correlates much less. Stanovich and Evans also distinguish a decoupling operation as a central feature of the second type. Stanovich later use this distinction and others to separate this processing in two kinds: algorithmic and reflective. Algorithmic mind accounts for individual differences in fluid intelligence, it operates on a level of different algorithms. Reflective mind accounts for differences in rational thinking dispositions, it can initiate a cognitive decoupling which starts a simulation of a situation mind needs to analyze. The decoupling itself is necessary to distinguish between a reality and a simulation.
This kind of processing can be used when algorithmic thinking is not enough, because with reflective thinking and simulation a person can make thought experiments, estimate outcomes of different scenarios and actions, and plan for the future. This model can be also used to understand how to improve one’s thinking, for example while teaching and studying critical thinking.
1. ^ : Thinking, fast and slow, D Kahneman, P Egan. 2011
2. ^ : Dual-process theories of higher cognition: Advancing the debate, JSBT Evans, KE Stanovich, Perspectives on Psychological Science 2011.
3. ^ : On the distinction between rationality and intelligence: Implications for understanding individual differences in reasoning. KE Stanovich - In K Holyoak, R Morrison (Eds.) (pp. 343-365), The Oxford handbook of thinking and reasoning, 2012.