The probabilistic approach to human reasoning

Trends in Cognitive Sciences 5 (8):349-357 (2001)
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A recent development in the cognitive science of reasoning has been the emergence of a probabilistic approach to the behaviour observed on ostensibly logical tasks. According to this approach the errors and biases documented on these tasks occur because people import their everyday uncertain reasoning strategies into the laboratory. Consequently participants' apparently irrational behaviour is the result of comparing it with an inappropriate logical standard. In this article, we contrast the probabilistic approach with other approaches to explaining rationality, and then show how it has been applied to three main areas of logical reasoning: conditional inference, Wason's selection task and syllogistic reasoning.



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