This study examined the hypothesis that conditional reasoning involves visual short-term memory resources (Johnson-Laird, 1985). A total of 147 university students were given measures of verbal and visual short-term memory capacity and a series of concrete and abstract conditional reasoning problems. Results indicate that there is a positive correlation between verbal working memory capacity and reasoning with both concrete and abstract premises. A positive correlation was also obtained between visual working memory capacity and reasoning with concrete premises.
Mental model theory has been used to explain many differing phenomena in adult reasoning, including the extensively studied case of conditional reasoning. However, the current theory makes predictions about the development of conditional reasoning that are not consistent with data. In this article, young children's performance on conditional reasoning problems and the justifications given are analysed. A mental model account of conditional reasoning is proposed that assumes that (1) young children can reason with two models and (2) the fleshing out (...) of conditionals involves activation of information in semantic memory that uses the minor premise as a retrieval cue. (shrink)
Some studies have reported that, under some circumstances, participants sometimes reject the truth of conditional premises and give incorrect uncertain conclusions to MP and MT, despite the standard instructions to assume the truth of the premises. Instructions that emphasise the logical nature of the task, on the other hand, increase the number of valid conclusions to these two inferences. In this paper, we examine two possible explanations for the influence of instructions on the production of valid conclusions: (1) instructions trigger (...) a logical mode of thinking that is appropriate for the task to be solved, and (2) instructions affect the way that retrieved information is used when constructing a mental representation of the premises. In order to compare these two hypothesis, we used conditional causal relations having either many or few disabling conditions (i.e. cases of P and not-Q) and presented them in four different instructional conditions. When presented with the standard instructions to suppose the premises to be true, MP and MT inferences show a relatively low percentage of valid conclusions. However, when the logical nature of the task and the necessity to assume the truth of the premises are emphasised, the number of valid conclusions greatly increases. Also, if disabling conditions are made explicit or generated before the presentation of these logical instructions, the performance on MP and MT is lower than when only the logical instructions are presented. Finally, the instructions had no effect on AC and DA. From these results, we concluded that the instructions had an effect on the use of retrieved information rather than on inducing different modes of thinking. (shrink)
ABSTRACTStudies examining the interpretation that is given to if–then statementstypically use what are referred to as basic conditionals, which give contextless relations between two unrelated concrete terms. However, there is some evidence that basic conditionals require a more abstract form of representation. In order to examine this, we presented participants with truth-table tasks involving either basic conditionals or conditionals referring to imaginary categories, and standard conditional inference tasks with abstract and familiar premises. As expected, fewer typical defective conditional interpretations were (...) given to basic conditionals. In addition, partial correlations showed a unique relationship between the interpretation of basic conditionals and abstract inferential reasoning. Results suggest that people process basic conditionals as a form of abstract reasoning, and that the interpretation of conditionals... (shrink)
This study examined the hypothesis that a key process in conditional reasoning with concrete premises involves on-line retrieval of information about potential alternate antecedents. Participants were asked to solve reasoning problems with causal conditional premises (If cause P then effect Q). These premises were inserted into short contexts. The availability of potential alternatives was varied from one context to another by adding statements that explicitly invalidated one or more of these alternatives (i.e., other causes that lead to the effect Q). (...) The invalidated alternatives differed in the degree of their semantic association to the consequent term (Q). The results show that the effect of invalidating one or more potential alternatives on the two uncertain logical forms, AC and DA, was largely determined by their relative associative strength. These results strongly support a model for conditional reasoning with causal premises that supposes that a key element in responding to the uncertain logical forms is on-line retrieval of at least one potential alternative antecedent. (shrink)
A total of 152 students were asked to respond to a series of causal conditional (“If P then Q”) inferences with major premises for which there was variable access to information contradicting the premises. Half the students were given 12.5 s for each inference, the other half were given 8.5 s. The percentage of accepted inferences was significantly lower when the time was shorter for the MP and MT inferences, but no effect was observed for the AC and DA inferences. (...) Results are interpreted as supporting the idea that inhibition of retrieved information contradicting the premise is necessary to explain reasoning with the MP and MT inferences under logical instructions (Markovits & Barrouillet, 2002). (shrink)
As stressed by Perruchet & Vinter, the SOC model echoes Johnson-Laird's mental model theory. Indeed, the latter rejects rule-based processing and assumes that reasoning is achieved through the manipulation of conscious representations. However, the mental model theory as well as its modified versions resorts to the abstraction of complex schemas and some form of implicit logic that seems incompatible with the SOC approach.
Byrne's book makes a strong case for the important role of imagination as a creator of possibilities that are used to understand complex relations, while remaining rational. I suggest that imagination also serves a critical developmental role by creating possibilities that are not rational, and that act to modify the nature of the cognitive processes that are used to define rationality.