In their book, Situationism, Reischauer and Palowski make the case that any attempt to recognize and measure rationality in an effective way necessarily involves detecting different forms of understanding that make up the individual, system, or institution understanding and all have philosophical uses. While it's easy to think of other kinds of categories, such as culture, tradition, and the language, that ought to be the basis for understanding rationality, there are many other forms of meaning to consider as well. As Reischauer and Palowski argue, most important of all is the notion of rationality itself as a construct. Conventional understandings of rationality imply that both the resulting relational form and the quantitative output should be the same. Rationality as a predicate implies, however, that the relative source of logic and emotions is irrelevant, that people and systems should not simply think alike. For example, at least three types of feelings are often thought to imply or reinforce rationality: guilt, wishfulness, and ecstasy. Others, such as anger and shame, may have no bearing, and others, such as indifference, may lie somewhere in between. (Given this complexity, quantitative measures of rationality rely heavily on questions of priori, unaided rationality, information, and experience.) Nevertheless, in contemporary society we still manage to say that, beyond a point, we all approach the world the same way: with rationalness as our goal and rationality as the means by which we accomplish this goal. This simplification is not a sufficient condition for good rationality—it simply produces standards that neither reach all systems nor survive the exercise of rational reasoning.

As Reischauer and Palowski show, this mischaracterization of the sources of rationality is reflected in the way we conceive of other types of rationality and in the subsequent problem of attempting to measure them.

Paradoxically, this misidentification of rationalism, critical insight, and intuitive understanding as sources of rationality may have its origin in the fallacious associations that both Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky developed in 1994 to go with the essentially circular way they defined rationality, their theoretical emphasis on what they saw as axiomatic inductions rather than discursive explorations, and their emphasis on the negative consequences of "thinking too much" as a measure of analytic commitment.

In these perspectives, reason alone is sufficient to define rationality (or, if you prefer, intuition). Of course, rationality is not so simply defined, so self-help groups called the Rational Optimists (whose volunteers include Holocaust survivors), the Guardian Guardian Angels, or other researchers have attempted to identify different kinds of rationality based on their varied analytic approaches. Jean Piaget, one of the most famous psychologists of all time, describes rationalism thusly: "The presupposition of logic, based on mental logic as a principle of existence, is under the control of a subjective logic, the logic of thought. . . . If a logistic argument is not based on a single thought, then a rational argument is not rational." However, in practice, some crucial contexts matter even more than the novelty of the circumstances that formulate the logical argument. No-logic and circumstantial logic may be integrated into rational argument, but it is in order to achieve this formal basis for argument that the relationship between logical deduction and the reinforcement of intuitive intuition is mediated. Thus, a logical argument without an explanatory abstract can only succeed if its rationalizations are enriched with the implicit acknowledgement of intuition as a factor that must be reckoned with when it comes to answering, for example, a question about a situation or an instance.