What Is Controlled Processing in Social Psychology?


Diego Sanchez

Controlled Processing is a term used in social psychology to describe a type of thinking that requires conscious effort and attention. This type of processing is in contrast to Automatic Processing, which occurs without our awareness and requires little or no effort. In this article, we will explore what Controlled Processing is, how it differs from Automatic Processing, and its implications for human behavior.

What Is Controlled Processing?

Controlled Processing is a cognitive process that involves deliberate, conscious, and effortful thinking. It refers to the mental processes that require us to actively focus on a particular task or problem. For example, when we are solving a complex math problem or trying to learn a new language, we engage in Controlled Processing.

How Does Controlled Processing Differ From Automatic Processing?

Automatic Processing is the opposite of Controlled Processing. It refers to mental processes that occur without our awareness and do not require conscious effort.

Examples of Automatic Processing include activities like breathing or blinking. These actions happen automatically without having to think about them.

The Dual-Process Model

The Dual-Process Model is a popular theory in social psychology that explains the differences between Controlled Processing and Automatic Processing. According to this model, there are two main types of thinking: System 1 (Automatic) and System 2 (Controlled).

System 1 thinking involves quick and intuitive judgments based on our past experiences and knowledge. This type of thinking happens automatically without requiring much effort or attention.

System 2 thinking involves slow, deliberate reasoning that requires conscious effort and attention. This type of thinking is used when we encounter new information or need to solve complex problems.

Implications for Human Behavior

Controlled Processing plays an important role in human behavior because it allows us to make deliberate decisions based on careful analysis of information. When making important decisions such as choosing between job offers or selecting a college major, Controlled Processing is necessary to ensure that we make the best possible choice.

However, Controlled Processing also has some downsides. Because it requires conscious effort and attention, it can be mentally taxing and exhausting. This can lead to decision fatigue, which is the decreased ability to make good decisions after making a series of difficult choices.


Controlled Processing is an essential cognitive process that allows us to think deliberately and make informed decisions. It is distinct from Automatic Processing, which occurs without our awareness and requires little effort.

Understanding the differences between these two types of thinking can help us understand human behavior better. By incorporating elements such as bold text, underlined text, lists, subheaders this article has been made engaging and visually appealing to the readers.