How mental systems believe.

  title={How mental systems believe.},
  author={Daniel T. Gilbert},
  journal={American Psychologist},
  • D. Gilbert
  • Published 1 February 1991
  • Psychology
  • American Psychologist
Is there a difference between believing and merely understanding an idea?Descartes thought so. He considered the acceptance and rejection of an idea to be alternative outcomes of an effortful assessment process that occurs subsequent to the automatic comprehension of that idea. This article examined Spinoza's alternative suggestion that (a) the acceptance of an idea is part of the automatic comprehension of that idea and (b) the rejection of an idea occurs subsequent to, and more effortfully… 

Figures from this paper

Thinking is Believing

Abstract The idea that people can entertain propositions without believing them is widespread, intuitive, and most probably false. The main goal of this essay is to argue against the claim that


What was noted by E. J. hanger (1978) remains true today: that much of contemporary psychological research is based on the assumption that people are consciously and systematically processing

The science of belief: A progress report.

Empirical and observational data support the existence of a Spinozan system of belief fixation, one that is automatic and independent of belief rejection, and at least two systems of belief change, which functions to guard the authors' most centrally held beliefs from potential inconsistency with newly formed beliefs.

ATTITUDES AND SOCIAL COGNITION Can't Not Believe Everything \bu Read

Can people comprehend assertions without believing them? Descartes (1644/1984) suggested that people can and should, whereas Spinoza (1677/1982) suggested that people should but cannot. Three

The Momentary Realist

Two studies demonstrate that people initially take their subjective experience of an object as an accurate reflection of the object's properties, and only subsequently, occasionally, and effortfully consider the possibility that their experience was influenced by extraneous factors even when these factors are the person's own dispositions.

Thinking Is Believing “Keep Moving and Faith Will Come”-Jean le Rond D’alembert

The idea that people can entertain propositions without believing them is widespread, intuitive, and most probably false. The main goal of this essay is to argue against the claim that people can

Forming Subjective Representations of Subjective Representations: Evidence of a Subjective Status Bias

  • G. Peeters
  • Psychology
    Genetic, social, and general psychology monographs
  • 2005
The author found that simple drawing tasks were executed differently depending on whether or not the subject of the drawing was defined as a mental content (belief, imagination, perception).

Explanation, imagination, and confidence in judgment.

A review of studies using experimental manipulations indicates that people who explain or imagine a possibility then express greater confidence in the truth of that possibility, and this effect results from the approach people take in the explanation or imagination task.

Psychology and the Use of Intuitions in Philosophy

There is widespread controversy about the use of intuitions in philosophy.  In this paper I will argue that there are legitimate concerns about this use, and that these concerns cannot be fully

A cognitive account of belief: a tentative road map

Working back from cognitive accounts of delusions, potential candidate cognitive processes that may be involved in normal belief formation are considered and a multistage account of the belief process is advanced that could provide the basis for a more comprehensive model of belief.



The development of children's knowledge about the appearance-reality distinction.

Children of 11 to 12 years, and to an even greater degree college students, give evidence of possessing a substantial body of rich, readily available, and explicit knowledge in this area of knowledge acquisition.

Considering the opposite: a corrective strategy for social judgment.

In two separate but conceptually parallel experiments, the induction of a consider-the-opposite strategy had greater corrective effect than more demand-laden alternative instructions to be as fair and unbiased as possible.

The society of mind

Belief : form, content, and function

Presenting original essays on contemporary approaches to belief, including the problem of misrepresentation and false belief, conscious versus unconscious belief, explicit versus tacit belief, and

Considerations of some problems of comprehension.

On cognitive busyness: When person perceivers meet persons perceived.

Person perception includes three sequential processes: categorization (what is the actor doing?), characterization (what trait does the action imply?), and correction (what situational constraints

The Analysis of Mind

This method combined two techniques which were then coming into use in psychology, those of correlation and of mental testing, which made possible the analysis of a concrete function such as addition.

The Transparency of Denial: Briefing in the Debriefing Paradigm

This research tested a new conceptualization of the impression perseverance effect. Here, as in earlier studies, some actor and observer subjects were given false feedback about the actor-subjects'

Perseverance of Social Theories: The Role of Explanation in the Persistence of Discredited Information

The perseverance of social theories was examined in two experiments within a debriefing paradigm. Subjects were initially given two case studies suggestive of either a positive or a negative