Power of source as a factor in deontic inference

Thinking and Reasoning 13 (3):295 – 317 (2007)
Power has been studied in various guises in both the social cognition and the reasoning literatures. In this paper, three experiments are reported in which this factor was investigated in the domain of deontic thinking. Power of source of deontic statements was varied within several scenarios, and participants judged the degree to which they thought an injunction would be carried out. In the first experiment, permission statements were used, and it was found that, as predicted, power was positively related to degree of endorsement of deontic conclusions across scenarios. In the second experiment, these findings were generalised across three further deontic domains (threat, warning, and promise) and two different syntactic forms (conjunctive and disjunctive). In the third experiment, the hypothesis that power effects were mediated by subjective judgements of conditional probability was investigated and confirmed. It is argued that these results favour theories that give a general role to probabilistic factors, rather than those based on domain-specific schemas.
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