Logic, Fast and Slow: The Persistent Difficulty of the Monty Hall Problem

EvoS Journal: The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium
Volume 10, Special Issue 1, 2018

Logic, Fast and Slow: The Persistent Difficulty of the Monty Hall Problem

Kosegarten, J. & Kose, G.

Evolutionary cognitive psychology is equipped to answer questions regarding not only human reasoning but also its limitations. Given that the field argues for naturally selected reasoning capacities (either broad or modular), the causes of certain cognitive errors and biases are of important interest. Kahneman (2011) has investigated and explicated the many fallacies in human logic that can lead people to make less than optimal judgments and decisions. Evolutionary cognitive psychologists have examined both probability judgments and conditional reasoning. Taken together, it would appear that evolutionary psychology could shed light on the notion that humans think both ‘fast and slow.’ This study examined two aspects of logical problem-solving hypothesized to be necessary for deducing the optimal response to the Monty Hall problem. The authors investigated the effects of a demonstration designed to emphasize the logic of the Monty Hall problem and to facilitate perspective-change, and the authors investigated the effects of counterfactual reasoning tasks. Alone, these two conditions—the demonstration and counterfactual reasoning—did not improve performance over controls. When combined, they did significantly improve subjects’ performance. We argue that subjects’ strong tendency to respond illogically to the Monty Hall problem is an example of fast, System 1 thinking and that the combined cognitive influences of a logical demonstration and counterfactual reasoning facilitated slow, System 2 thinking. Further we argue that slow, System 2 thinking operates with two subsystems called ‘fast logic’ and ‘slow logic.’


How to cite this article:
Kosegarten, J. & Kose, G. (2019). Logic, fast and slow: The persistent difficulty of the Monty Hall problem. The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium10, Sp. Iss. (1), 24-42.