The development of deductive reasoning: How important is complexity?

Thinking and Reasoning 10 (2):123 – 145 (2004)
Current conceptions of the nature of human reasoning make it no longer tenable to assess children's inference by reference to the norms of logical inference. Alternatively, the complexity of the mental models employed in children's inferences can be analysed. This approach is applied to transitive inference, class inclusion, categorical induction, theory of mind, oddity, categorical syllogisms, analogy, and reasoning deficits. It is argued that a coherent account of children's reasoning emerges in that there is correspondence between tasks at the same level of complexity across different domains, and that the inferences of younger children, while impressive and important, are consistently simpler than those of older children.
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