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Exogenous cortisol causes a shift from deliberative to intuitive thinking

Margittai, Zsofia and Nave, Gideon and Strombach, Tina and van Wingerden, Marijn and Schwabe, Lars and Kalenscher, Tobias (2016) Exogenous cortisol causes a shift from deliberative to intuitive thinking. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 64 . pp. 131-135. ISSN 0306-4530. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2015.11.018.

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People often rely on intuitive judgments at the expense of deliberate reasoning, but what determines the dominance of intuition over deliberation is not well understood. Here, we employed a psychopharmacological approach to unravel the role of two major endocrine stress mediators, cortisol and noradrenaline, in cognitive reasoning. Healthy participants received placebo, cortisol (hydrocortisone) and/or yohimbine, a drug that increases noradrenergic stimulation, before performing the cognitive reflection test (CRT). We found that cortisol impaired performance in the CRT by biasing responses toward intuitive, but incorrect answers. Elevated stimulation of the noradrenergic system, however, had no effect. We interpret our results in the context of the dual systems theory of judgment and decision making. We propose that cortisol causes a shift from deliberate, reflective cognition toward automatic, reflexive information processing.

Item Type:Article
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Nave, Gideon0000-0001-6251-5630
Additional Information:© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.
Subject Keywords:Cortisol; CRT; Stress; Cognitive reflection; Intuitive; Deliberate; Decision biases
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20151221-112221085
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Official Citation:Zsofia Margittai, Gideon Nave, Tina Strombach, Marijn van Wingerden, Lars Schwabe, Tobias Kalenscher, Exogenous cortisol causes a shift from deliberative to intuitive thinking, Psychoneuroendocrinology, Volume 64, February 2016, Pages 131-135, ISSN 0306-4530, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:63104
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:22 Dec 2015 19:24
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 23:11

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