Mental model theory versus the inference rule approach in relational reasoning

Thinking and Reasoning 8 (3):193 – 203 (2002)
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Researchers currently working on relational reasoning typically argue that mental model theory (MMT) is a better account than the inference rule approach (IRA). They predict and observe that determinate (or one-model) problems are easier than indeterminate (or two-model) problems, whereas according to them, IRA should lead to the opposite prediction. However, the predictions attributed to IRA are based on a mistaken argument. The IRA is generally presented in such a way that inference rules only deal with determinate relations and not with indeterminate ones. However, (a) there is no reason to presuppose that a rule-based procedure could not deal with indeterminate relations, and (b) applying a rule-based procedure to indeterminate relations should result in greater difficulty. Hence, none of the recent articles devoted to relational reasoning currently presents a conclusive case for discarding IRA by using the well-known determinate vs indeterminate problems comparison.



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