Does reasoning occur on the selection task? A comparison of relevance-based theories

Thinking and Reasoning 4 (4):353 – 376 (1998)
Does reasoning occur on the Wason selection task, or are card selections determined purely on the basis of heuristic processes? To answer this question two relevance-based theories of reasoning are compared: (1) the theory of Evans (1984, 1989; Evans & Over, 1996), which takes the heuristic viewpoint, and (2) the theory of Sperber, Cara, and Girotto (1995), which takes the reasoning viewpoint. In three experiments, the effect of removing matching cards from the selection task array is examined. It is argued that the Sperber et al. theory makes clearer predictions about the results of these manipulations, which are confirmed, and that the Evans theory can only accommodate them if it allows the operation of reasoning processes. The results are also discussed in relation to Roth's (1979) account of the selection task, mental models theory, and information gain theory.
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