Reducing cognitive complexity in a hypothetico-deductive reasoning task

Thinking and Reasoning 6 (3):253 – 265 (2000)
The confusion/non-consequential thinking explanation proposed by Newstead, Girotto, and Legrenzi (1995) for poor performance on Wason's THOG problem (a hypothetico-deductive reasoning task) was examined in three experiments with 300 participants. In general, as the cognitive complexity of the problem and the possibility of non-consequential thinking were reduced, correct performance increased. Significant but weak facilitation (33-40% correct) was found in Experiment 1 for THOG classification instructions that did not include the indeterminate response option. Substantial facilitation (up to 75% correct) was obtained in Experiment 2 with O'Brien et al.'s (1990) one-other-THOG classification instruction. In Experiment 3, a revised version of O'Brien et al.'s pre-test problem format also led to substantial facilitation, even with the use of the standard three-choice THOG classification instruction. These findings are discussed in terms of Newstead et al.'s theoretical proposal and possible attentional factors.
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