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The Cost of Thinking

Prof. Ben Newell
UNSW Sydney ~ Psychology
Chris Donkin
LMU Munich ~ Psychology

Everyday speech is replete with expressions linking mental labour to economic concepts. We speak of being taxed by over-thinking, of paying attention to tasks, and investing effort. In short, we often think of thinking as costly. And yet, the clear association of effort with reward leads us, at times, to engage in activities precisely because they are effortful, and perhaps even to value effort itself. This relationship between the cost and value of effort has recently been described as a “paradox” and a “riddle”. In this talk, we will discuss novel theoretical, experimental, and computational approaches to determining the cost of thinking, in an attempt to answer the question of when and why thinking is costly, rewarding or both.

Psychosocial functions of thinking Last updated 2 years ago

This is a very interesting project. I have two comments, one pertaining to the distinctions among types of cognitive activity and another regarding the rewards thereof. There may be mileage in further distinctions among types of cognitive activity. For instance, it seems plausible that there are qualitatively different kinds of rewards in wonder...

Michael Smithson 0 comments
Cite this as:

Newell, B., & Donkin, C. (2021, February). The Cost of Thinking. Paper presented at Australasian Mathematical Psychology Conference 2021. Via