Age and gender differences in preferences for rational and experiential thinking

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    Cognitive-Experiential Self Theory assumes that reasoning conforms to a parallel dual processing model (comprising rational and experiential systems), through which we make sense of the world. The Rational Experiential Inventory was developed to measure an individual's preference for rational (need for cognition) and experiential (faith in intuition) thinking, with individual differences proposed to influence the respective dominance of each. While small but consistent gender effects have been found previously, age effects have rarely been reported or investigated across the lifespan. We examine both age and gender differences in Rational Experiential Inventory scores, using combined data from five studies involving adult participants (n= 520, 61.9% male) with a mean age of 41.45. years (SD= 11.73, range 20-74. years). Results suggest a convergence of the rational and experiential systems in adulthood, although the timing may be different for women and men. In later adulthood, the relationship appears to diverge again.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)907-911
    Number of pages5
    JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


    • Age
    • Cognitive-Experiential Self Theory
    • Gender
    • Individual differences
    • Parallel dual processing models
    • Rational Experiential Inventory
    • Reasoning
    • Thinking dispositions


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