Reasoning About Relations

Psychological Review 112 (2):468-493 (2005)
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Abstract

Inferences about spatial, temporal, and other relations are ubiquitous. This article presents a novel model-based theory of such reasoning. The theory depends on 5 principles. The structure of mental models is iconic as far as possible. The logical consequences of relations emerge from models constructed from the meanings of the relations and from knowledge. Individuals tend to construct only a single, typical model. They spontaneously develop their own strategies for relational reasoning. Regardless of strategy, the difficulty of an inference depends on the process of integration of the information from separate premises, the number of entities that have to be integrated to form a model, and the depth of the relation. The article describes computer implementations of the theory and presents experimental results corroborating its main principle

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