20 January 2013 // 2013-20

Does Rationality Increase Cognitive Load?

I was reading this article on cognitive bias and irrationality (and popular psychology books like Blink, Nudge, and Sway) when the following section jumped out at me:

"But in reality – especially in the Internet era – people have access to a limitless amount of information that they could consider. As a result, we rely on rules of thumb, or heuristics, to take in information and make decisions. These mental shortcuts are necessary because they lessen the cognitive load and help us organize the world – we would be overwhelmed if we were truly rational."

(Emphasis is mine.)

Is that true? I know that humans can be irrational creatures. I know the value of rules of thumb, mental shortcuts, and heuristics. But does rationality lead to an increased cognitive load? I'm curious to see what kind of studies were done in this area.

I will have to look into this further.


The Irrationality of Irrationality: The Paradox of Popular Psychology - A guest blog post on Scientific American

Author: Erin Jo Richey
URL: http://erinjorichey.com/thumos/articles/rationality-and-cognitive-load

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