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On the generation and evaluation of inferences from single premises.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date04/2003
JournalMemory and Cognition
Journal number3
Volume31
Number of pages12
Pages467-478
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

A theory of how individuals construct mental models to draw inferences from single premises was tested in three experiments. Experiment 1 confirmed a counterintuitive prediction that it is easier to generate inferences between conditionals and disjunctions than it is to evaluate them. Experiment 2 replicated this finding, but an advantage found in the first experiment for conditional-to-disjunction over disjunction-to-conditional inferences was removed with different sentence contents. Experiment 3 showed that disjunction-to-conditional inferences were facilitated when premises expressed familiar indicative relations, whereas conditional-to-disjunction inferences were facilitated when premises expressed causal relations. The results indicate that small changes in task format can have large effects on the strategies that people use to represent and reason about different sentential connectives. We discuss the potential for theories other than mental models to account for these results. We argue that, despite the important role played by single-premise inferences in paraphrasing logical forms during inference, mental logic theories cannot account for the results reported here.

Bibliographic note

Ormerod was lead author, holding a Leverhulme Trust Study award grant to develop the work at Princeton. First experiment included in Richardson's PhD, second & third experiments designed, executed and analysed by Ormerod alone to test his theoretical model. Ormerod wrote entire manuscript. RAE_import_type : Journal article RAE_uoa_type : Psychology