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Rationality and Context: Antidotes for Anthrax Anecdotes
Unformatted Document Text:  7 human information processing systems, a preconscious experiential system and a conscious rational system. The experiential system is informed by experience rather than by logical inference, which is the exclusive domain of the rational system. The experiential system encodes information both as memories of individual events and abstract representations based on stimulus generalizations, as well as prototypes, metaphors and narratives. The experiential system is strongly related to the experience of affect and operates in a manner that is preconscious, rapid, automatic, effortless, holistic, associative, nonverbal, and minimally demanding of cognitive resources. In contrast, the rational system operates according to one’s understanding of the rules of evidence and logical inference. It is conscious, analytical, effortful, affect free and maximally demanding of cognitive resources. Its evolutionary history is considerably shorter than that of the experiential system (Epstein, in press). According to CEST, these two independent systems operate in parallel and are interactive; one mode can dominate the other, but they usually operate in synchrony (Pacini & Epstein, 1999). Consistent with the tenets of CEST, the Rational-Experiential Inventory (REI) has been devised to index individuals’ tendencies to rely on the two information processing modes (Norris & Epstein, 2002; Pacini & Epstein, 1999). This inventory includes four sub-scales, two of which assess individuals’ self-reported rational ability and their tendency to prefer rational modes of thinking, and two of which index ability in and preference for the experiential mode. These sub-scales can be combined to form two main sub-scales that index rationality and experientiality respectively. Non-significant and near zero correlations between these two scales have been interpreted as evidence for the orthogonality of the two information processing modes (Norris & Epstein, 2002;

Authors: Berger, Charles., Johnson, Joel. and Lee, Eun-Ju.
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human information processing systems, a preconscious experiential system and a
conscious rational system. The experiential system is informed by experience rather than
by logical inference, which is the exclusive domain of the rational system. The
experiential system encodes information both as memories of individual events and
abstract representations based on stimulus generalizations, as well as prototypes,
metaphors and narratives. The experiential system is strongly related to the experience of
affect and operates in a manner that is preconscious, rapid, automatic, effortless, holistic,
associative, nonverbal, and minimally demanding of cognitive resources. In contrast, the
rational system operates according to one’s understanding of the rules of evidence and
logical inference. It is conscious, analytical, effortful, affect free and maximally
demanding of cognitive resources. Its evolutionary history is considerably shorter than
that of the experiential system (Epstein, in press). According to CEST, these two
independent systems operate in parallel and are interactive; one mode can dominate the
other, but they usually operate in synchrony (Pacini & Epstein, 1999).
Consistent with the tenets of CEST, the Rational-Experiential Inventory (REI) has
been devised to index individuals’ tendencies to rely on the two information processing
modes (Norris & Epstein, 2002; Pacini & Epstein, 1999). This inventory includes four
sub-scales, two of which assess individuals’ self-reported rational ability and their
tendency to prefer rational modes of thinking, and two of which index ability in and
preference for the experiential mode. These sub-scales can be combined to form two
main sub-scales that index rationality and experientiality respectively. Non-significant
and near zero correlations between these two scales have been interpreted as evidence for
the orthogonality of the two information processing modes (Norris & Epstein, 2002;


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