Recognition of proofs in conditional reasoning

Thinking and Reasoning 11 (4):326 – 348 (2005)
Relatively little is known about those who consistently produce the valid response to Modus Tollens (MT) problems. In two studies, people who responded correctly to MT problems indicated how “convinced” they were by proofs of conditional reasoning conclusions. The first experiment showed that MT competent reasoners found accurate proofs of MT reasoning more convincing than similar “proofs” of invalid reasoning. Similarly, there was a tendency for MT competent reasoners to find an initial counterfactual supposition more convincing than did people who were less competent in MT. The second experiment showed that when individuals produced the correct MT response, and found correct MT proofs to be more convincing than “bogus” proofs, they were also less likely to find the conclusions to Denying the Antecedent, or Affirming the Consequent problems valid, compared to individuals who could not discriminate between valid and bogus MT proofs. These findings are discussed in terms of both their implications for the mental logic and mental models positions, and individual differences in System 1 and System 2 reasoning.
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