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Conditional reasoning

Refers to reasoning with "if"

ex.: (P) If "it is raining", (Q) then " Nancy gets wet"


Propositional logic

Refers to a proposition or statement that is a sentence which is either true or false

--> doesnt admit any uncertainty about the truth


Modus tollens

(Conditional reasoning)

Is a rule of logic which states that if A = (should be) B, but B is false, then A is false


Why do people often make mistakes in conditional reasoning ?

1. Great influence by contextual info that is irrelevant to logical info

2. Background knowledge

3. Number of available counterexamples will make one less willing to accept conditional inferences

4. Low WM capacity


There are 2 processing systems individuals will use to solve conditional reasoning Problems.

S1 being rapid + automatic vs S2 being slower + demanding

What are the 4 major processing strategies identified (Bonnefant et. al) ?

1. Pragmatic (1)

2. Semantic (1)

--> using background knowledge

3. Inhibitory (2)

--> inhibiting pragmatic + semantic strategy performance

4. Generative (2)

--> combining inhibitory strategy with analytic processing


Wason selection task

1. Is a task where 4 cards are lying on the table

2. Each card has a letter on one side and a number on the other

3. A rule applies

4. Task is to select only those cards that would need to be turned over to decide whether or not the rule is correct


Matching bias

Refers to the tendency for participants to select cards matching the items named in the rule regardless of whether the matched items are correct




Indicative rule

Suggests that if there is a P, then there is a Q

--> concerned with the conformation of the rule


Deontic rule

Suggests that if there is a P, then you MUST do Q

--> concerned with the detection of rule violation

--> should be used on Wason selection task


Social contract theory

Is the view that people have rules maximizing their ability to achieve their goals in social situations 

ex.: One will be able to travel by train (b), when one has bought a ticket (c) = social contract

--> explains why deontic rules lead to superior performance


What kind of role does "cheating" play in the social contract theory ?

Cheating means we have fulfilled our side of the bargain but failed to have received the agreed benefit


Why do a lot of people produce incorrect answers when doing the Wasons selection task ?

1. Use of simple strategies


2. Not understanding fully what the task involves

--> should use deontic rules



1. Consists of 2 premises/statements, which are followed by a conclusion

2. The validity of the conclusion always depends on the premises


ex.:All children are obedient, all girl guides are children, therefore all girl guides are obedient


Why do people often make errors in syllogistic reasoning ?

Due to the existence of certain biases, but most importantly belief bias

--> meanings of words + expressions in formal logic differ significantly from meanings in everyday life


Belief bias

A tendency to accept invalid conclusions if they are believable + rejection valid conclusions when they are unbelievable


Mental model theory

States that people use information of a statement/premises to construct a mental model

--> successful thinking results from the use of appropriate mental models


Principle of truth

 We construct mental models that represent explicitly only what is true, and not what is false


--> thereby minimize the load on WM


What is peoples ability to construct mental models constraint by ?

By the limited capacity of WM


Limitations on the Mental model theory ?

1. People find deductive reasoning difficult, therefore engage in less effortful forms of processing than assumed

2. Processes involved in forming mental models are underspecified

3. Ignores individual differences


Heuristic-Analytic theory of reasoning (Evans)

(Dual Systems model)

1. If someone is presented with a reasoning problem heuristic processes (intuitive) construct a mental model by using background knowledge etc

--> autonomous, fast, no WM required


2. Analytical processes may or may not intervene to revise or replace model

--> deliberative, slower, WM required


Human reasoning (according to the dual systems model) is based on the use of 3 principles.

Which ones are those ?

1. Singularity principle

--> a single mental model is considered

2. Relevance principle

--> most relevant mental model based on prior knowledge + context is considered

3. Satisficing principle

--> current mental model is evaluated by analytic processes


When will belief bias be stronger, considering the dual systems model ?

1. When only heuristic processes are used

2. Time is strictly limited so it is difficult to use analytic processes


Secularization hypothesis

Suggests that over the course of history, with more widespread access to formal education and technology a focus on natural explanations will increasingly compete with and displace supernatural explanations

--> consistent with finding that children gradually abandon a belief in supernatural causation as they grow


Natural explanations

Refer to explanations that appeal to observable + empirically verifiable phenomena of the physical world


Supernatural explanations

Refer to explanations that appeal to phenomena that violate, operate outside of, or are distinct from the natural world


Explanatory coexistence

Refer to domains of human experience in which both natural + supernatural explanations are frequently generated to interpret the same events

--> human origins, death, illness


Which properties do the 3 domains share, that make them suitable to explanatory accounts, that incorporate both natural + supernatural reasoning ?


e.g.: human origins, death, illness

Each phenomenon


1. can be attributed to unobservable causal agents

2. is associated with strong emotions

3. is embedded in specific cultural scripts that coexist alongside current scientific understanding

--> BUT: they may vary across diverse cultural contexts


Why is it important to do cross-cultural research on explanatory coexistence ?

1. Current research is unique to western culture

2. It could shed light on the universality + cultural specify of the domains


Which explanatory frameworks do individuals use when using both natural + supernatural explanations?

1. Synthetic thinking

2. Target - dependent thinking

3. Integrated thinking


Synthetic thinking

Refers to a loose integration of natural + supernatural frameworks without in-depth consideration of how they might interact