Goldstone, R. L., Day, S., & Son, J. Y. (2010). Comparison.  In B. Glatzeder, V. Goel, & A. von Müller (Eds.)  On thinking: Volume II, towards a theory of thinking.  Heidelberg, Germany: Springer Verlag GmbH.  (pp. 103-122).

It might not be immediately clear why the topic of comparison warrants a whole chapter in a book on human thinking. Of course, we are often required to make decisions that involve comparing two or more alternatives and assessing their relative value. Which car should I buy? Which job is more suited to my long-term goals? Would I rather have the soup or the salad? But in the grand scheme of human cognition, it might seem that such processes could be relegated to a subheading in a chapter on decision making. In fact, comparison is one of the most integral components of human thought. Along with the related construct of similarity, comparison plays a crucial role in almost everything that we do. Furthermore, comparison itself is a powerful cognitive tool—in addition to its supporting role in other mental processes, research has demonstrated that the simple act of comparing two things can produce important changes in our knowledge.

Download PDF version of this paper