Cognitive ability and variation in selection task performance

Thinking and Reasoning 4 (3):193 – 230 (1998)
Individual differences in performance on a variety of selection tasks were examined in three studies employing over 800 participants. Nondeontic tasks were solved disproportionately by individuals of higher cognitive ability. In contrast, responses on two deontic tasks that have shown robust performance facilitationthe Drinking-age Problem and the Sears Problem-were unrelated to cognitive ability. Performance on deontic and nondeontic tasks was consistently associated. Individuals in the correct/correct cell of the bivariate performance matrix were over-represented. That is, individuals giving the modal response on a nondeontic task (P and Q) were significantly less likely to give the modal response on a deontic task (P and not-Q) than were individuals who made the non-modal P and not-Q selection on nondeontic problems. The implications of the results are discussed within the heuristic-analytic framework of Evans (1996; Evans & Over, 1996) and the optimal data selection model of Oaksford and Chater (1994).
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