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date: 21 November 2019

(p. xi) Preface

(p. xi) Preface

A few decades ago, when the science of cognition was in its infancy, the early textbooks on cognition began with perception and attention and ended with memory. So-called higher-level cognition—the mysterious, complicated realm of thinking and reasoning—was simply left out. Things changed—any good cognitive text (and there are many) devotes several chapters to topics such as categorization, various types of reasoning, judgment and decision making, and problem solving. As the new century began, we noticed that unlike fields such as perception or memory, the field of thinking and reasoning lacked a true Handbook—a book meant to be kept close “at hand” by those involved in the field, particularly those new to it. In response, we edited the Cambridge Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning (2005). Our aim was to bring together top researchers to write chapters each of which summarized the basic concepts and findings for a major topic, sketch its history, and give a sense of the directions in which research is currently heading. The Handbook provided quick overviews for experts in each topic area, and more important for experts in allied topic areas (as few researchers can keep up with the scientific literature over the full breadth of the field of thinking and reasoning). Even more crucially, this Handbook was meant to provide an entry point into the field for the next generation of researchers, by providing a text for use in classes on thinking and reasoning designed for graduate students and upper-level undergraduates.

The first Handbook achieved these aims. However, a fast-moving scientific field has a way of quickly rendering the “state of the art” the “state of yesterday.” By the time the book appeared, new developments that our book had barely touched on were already generating excitement among researchers. These new themes included advances in Bayesian modeling, which helped to understand the rational foundations of thinking and reasoning, and advances in cognitive neuroscience, which began to link higher order cognition to its neural and even genetic substrate . In addition, new topics such as moral reasoning became active. After a few years, we decided the field of thinking and reasoning was ripe for a new comprehensive overview. This is it. Our aim is to provide comprehensive and authoritative reviews of all the core topics of the field of thinking and reasoning, with many pointers for further reading. Doubtless we still have omissions, but we have included as much as could realistically fit in a single volume. Our focus is on research from cognitive psychology, cognitive science, and cognitive neuroscience, but we also include work related to developmental, social and clinical psychology, philosophy, economics, artificial intelligence, linguistics, education, law, business, (p. xii) and medicine. We hope that scholars and students in all these fields and others will find this to be a valuable collection.

We have many to thank for their help in bringing this endeavor to fruition. The editors at Oxford University Press, Catherine Carlin and more recently Joan Bossert, were instrumental in initiating and nurturing the project. We find it fitting that our new Oxford Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning should bear the imprint and indeed the name of this illustrious press, with its long history reaching back to the origins of scientific inquiry and its unparalleled list in the field of psychology. The entire staff at Oxford, especially Chad Zimmerman, provided us with close support throughout the arduous process of editing 40 chapters with 76 authors. During this period our own efforts were supported by grants from the Office of Naval Research (N000140810126), the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (FA9550-08-1-0489), and the Institute of Education Sciences (R305C080015) (KJH); and from the National Institute of Aging (T32AG020506), the Illinois Department of Public Health Alzheimer's Disease Research Fund, American Federation of Aging/Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation, and the Loyola University Chicago Deans of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School (RGM).

And then there are the authors. (It would seem a bit presumptuous to call them “our” authors!) People working on tough intellectual problems sometimes experience a moment of insight (see Chapter 24), a sense that although many laborious steps may lay ahead, the basic elements of a solution are already in place. Such fortunate people work on happily, confident that ultimate success is assured. In preparing this Handbook, we also had our moment of “insight.” It came when all these outstanding researchers had agreed to join our project. Before the first chapter was drafted, we knew the volume was going to be of the highest quality. Along the way, our distinguished authors graciously served as each other's reviewers as we passed drafts around, nurturing each other's chapters and adding in pointers from one to another. Then the authors all changed hats again and went back to work revising their own chapters in light of the feedback their peers had provided. We thank you all for making our own small labors a great pleasure.

Keith J. Holyoak

University of California, Los Angeles

December, 2011

Robert G. Morrison

Loyola University Chicago