Reasoning: How digital technologies influence decision making and judgment
Below is an editorial summary of “Reasoning”:
This report provides a working definition of reasoning, narrowing the scope of the discussion to judgment and decision making. We identify three aspects of digital technology that exert significant impacts on reasoning: user experience design, gamification, and search engines. Examples include social media platforms, gamified platforms like Robinhood, and search engines like Google and Wikipedia. Key findings include:
- The mere presence of one’s phone can have adverse effects on cognitive performance in reasoning tasks.
- Digital tools provide short-cuts that affect judgment: Images are often used as heuristics to process information and even infer truthfulness.
- Digital tools provide short-cuts that affect analysis: We rely on heuristics in order to process large volumes of information. That is, the digital media environment is designed for cognitive efficiency, thus engaging the use of prior mental models and schemas (through the use of heuristics) to enable quick judgment formation and often rushed or more impulsive decision making.
- Digital tools atrophy reasoning functions: By rewiring dopaminergic pathways, aggressive “gamification” tactics can encourage addiction and weaken judgment and decision making, thus inhibiting higher order decision making.
The significant ease with which one can acquire information has disincentivized the commitment of information to memory, and reliance on external digital information sources leads to a misattribution of the Internet’s knowledge as one’s own. Reasoning may be adversely affected if knowledge that informs mental models resides externally and is never committed to retrievable memories.download pdf