Abstract for: The Dual-Process Theory and Understanding of Stocks and Flows

Recent evidence suggests that using the System 2 mode of thinking can improve people’s performance in stock-flow (SF) tasks. In this paper, we further investigate the effects by implementing several different interventions in two studies. First, we replicate a previous finding that answering analytical questions before the SF task about doubles the likelihood of answering the stock questions correctly. We also investigate effects of three other interventions that can potentially prime participants to use their System 2. Specifically, the first group is asked to justify their response to the SF task; the second group is warned about the difficulty of the SF task; and the third group is offered information about cognitive biases and the role of the analytic mode of thinking. We find that the second group showed a statistically significant improvement in their performance. We claim that there are simple interventions which can modestly improve people’s response in SF tasks.