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Do people reason on the Wason selection task?: A new look at the data of Ball et al. (2003)

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2010
<mark>Journal</mark>The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number3
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)434-441
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Despite the popularity of the Wason selection task in the psychology of reasoning, doubt remains as to whether card choices actually reflect a process of reasoning. One view is that while participants reason about the cards and their hidden sidesas indicated by protocol analysisthis reasoning merely confabulates explanations for cards that were preconsciously cued. This hypothesis has apparently been supported by studies that show that participants predominantly inspect cards which they end up selecting. In this paper, we reanalyse the data of one such study, which used eye-movement tracking to record card inspection times (Ball, Lucas, Miles, Gale, 2003). We show that while cards favoured by matching bias are inspected for roughly equal lengths of times, their selection rates are strongly affected by their logical status. These findings strongly support a two-stage account in which attention is necessary but not sufficient for card selections. Hence, reasoning does indeed affect participants' choices on this task.