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Working memory, metacognitive uncertainty, and belief bias in syllogistic reasoning.

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>11/2000
<mark>Journal</mark>Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Series a Human Experimental Psychology
Issue number4
Number of pages22
Pages (from-to)1202-1223
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Studies of syllogistic reasoning have shown that the size of the belief bias effect varies with manipulations of logical validity and problem form.This paper presents amental models-based account,which explains these ®ndings in terms of variations in the working-memory demands of different problem types.We propose that belief bias may re¯ect the use of a heuristic that is applied when a threshold of uncertainty in one’s processing Ðattributable to working-memory overloadÐ is exceeded during reasoning. Three experiments are reported, which tested predictions deriving from this account. In Experiment 1, conclusions of neutral believability were presented for evaluation, and a predicted dissociation was observed in con®dence ratings for responses to valid and invalid arguments,with participants being more con®dent in the former. In Experiment 2, an attempt to manipulate working-memory loads indirectly by varying syllogistic ®gure failed to produce predicted effects upon the size of the belief bias effect. It is argued that the employment of a conclusion evaluation methodology minimized the effect of the ®gural manipulation in this experiment. In Experiment 3, participants’ articulatory and spatial recall capacities were calibrated as a direct test of working-memory involvement in belief bias. Predicted differences in the pattern of belief bias observed between high and low spatial recall groups supported the view that limited working memory plays a key role in belief bias.