Questioning the cheater-detection hypothesis: New studies with the selection task

Thinking and Reasoning 11 (2):97 – 122 (2005)
The cheater-detection (CD) hypothesis suggests that people who otherwise perform poorly on the Wason selection task perform well when the task is couched in cheater-detection contexts. We report three studies with new selection problems that are similar to the originals but that question the CD hypothesis. The first two studies document a pattern heretofore attributed to CD mechanisms, namely good performance with “regular” rules and inferior performance with “switched” rules, all in problems that lack a cheater-detection context. The final study finds an interaction: not only is good performance elicited on non-CD problems, but poor performance is found in the context of CD problems. Performance on the selection task cannot be predicted based on the presence or absence of cheater-detection contexts, which brings into question the need to invoke a specialised cheater-detection module.
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