Matching bias and set sizes: A discussion of yama (2001)

Thinking and Reasoning 8 (2):153 – 163 (2002)


Yama (2001) has presented an ingenious series of experiments in which he attempts to separate two accounts in the literature of the cause of "matching bias" in conditional reasoning. One account is that the bias arises from the way in which people process negations and the other is that it is due to the larger set sizes associated with negative propositions, rather than negation per se . Yama's experiments show influences of both negation and set size, from which he concludes that both factors contribute to the matching bias that is normally observed. In this note, it is argued that this conclusion is at odds with other findings in the literature, particularly those investigating implicit negation as the cause of the bias. Introducing explicit negations has been shown to remove matching bias completely and not partially, as Yama's account must predict. A possible reconciliation is proposed in terms of subtle contextual differences introduced by Yama's experiments.

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