Truth table tasks: The relevance of irrelevant

Thinking and Reasoning 14 (4):409-433 (2008)
Abstract
Two types of truth table tasks are used investigating mental representations of conditionals: a possibilities-based and a truth-based one. In possibilities tasks, participants indicate whether a situation is possible or impossible according to the conditional rule. In truth tasks participants evaluate whether a situation makes the rule true or false, or is irrelevant with respect to the truth of the rule. Comparing the two-option version of the possibilities task with the truth task in Experiment 1, the possibilities task yields logical answer patterns whereas the truth task yields defective patterns. Adding the irrelevant option to the possibilities task in Experiment 2 leads to a considerable amount of defective patterns in the possibilities task, but still to more logical patterns in the possibilities task than in the truth task. Experiment 3 shows that directionality matters since rule-to-situation tasks yield more logical answer patterns than do situation-to-rule tasks. We conclude that both task types are not comparable as such since wording, number of options and directionality influence the results
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