David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Thinking and Reasoning 2 (4):309 – 327 (1996)
We report two experiments on temporal reasoning with problems, such as: John has cleaned the house. John is taking a shower. John is going to read the paper. Mary always does the dishes when John cleans the house. Mary always drinks her coffee when John reads the paper. What for Mary is the relation between doing the dishes and drinking coffee? The experiments showed that problems such as this one, which require one mental model, elicited correct answers more often than did those requiring multiple models (e.g. with the second premise modified to "John has taken a shower", so that the order between the events in the first two premises is not fixed). These multiple-model problems, in turn, elicited more correct answers than did multiple-model problems with no valid answers (e.g. with the second premise modified to "John has taken a shower", and the fifth premise modified to "Mary always drinks her coffee when John takes a shower"). One-model problems were also solved more quickly than multiple-model problems, which were solved more quickly than problems with no valid answers. These results corroborated the predictions of the mental model theory of reasoning.
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