Bridging the gap between psychological and neural models of judgment : applying a dual-process framework to neural systems of social and emotional judgment



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Psychological models of judgment and decision-making that focus on dual processes distinguish between two modes of judgment. One mode of judgment uses incomplete, probabilistic associations that lead to good-enough judgments for most situations. A second mode of judgment uses more complete information and applies deterministic decision rules to reason through a decision. The two modes operate in parallel but they can also interact and may be viewed as ends of a continuum. Although some psychology researchers have hypothesized that the two modes of information processing are carried out by distinct neural systems, neural research has not fully tested the distinctions that psychological research has drawn between the two modes. Three studies aim to address the gap between psychological and neural models of judgment and decision-making. Study 1 addresses the lack of neural research comparing judgments based on probabilistic information (characteristic of the first mode of judgment in dual-process models) with judgments based on deterministic rules (characteristic of the second mode of judgment in dual-process models). Specifically, Study 1 compares basic probabilistic judgments and deterministic rule-based judgments to identify neural regions that are preferentially associated with one mode of judgment. Study 2 moves toward a more ecologically valid investigation of neural systems associated with judgments based on probabilistic associations. That is, Study 2 examines a probabilistic cue that is used in real-world judgments: affect. Study 3 examines neural regions associated with the interaction of the two modes of judgment in the underexplored domain of social evaluation. Modes of judgment may interact when the second mode of judgment uses new information to adjust a judgment previously driven by the first mode of judgment, as when a hiring manager uses information about a job candidate to adjust a first impression initially based on appearance. Study 3 examines the neural systems involved when people use newly available information to adjust a previously made affectively-driven judgment. Findings in the three studies contribute to scientific understanding of how neural regions support judgment, but do not definitively identify separable neural systems for dual-process modes of judgment.