Switching Cognitive Gears: From Habits of Mind to Active Thinking
The phrase "switching cognitive gears" is used to call attention to the fact that cognitive functioning involves the capacity to shift between cognitive modes, from automatic processing to conscious engagement and back again. Effectiveness may be as much a function of an actor's capacity to sense when a switch is appropriate, as to process in one or another mode. In this paper the authors develop a perspective on the switch from automatic to active thinking and the conditions that provoke it. They apply the perspective to work settings and identify types of situations in which actors are expected to switch from habits of mind to active thinking. They propose further work to develop a framework for understanding the switch from active thinking to automatic.