The role of training, alternative models, and logical necessity in determining confidence in syllogistic reasoning

Thinking and Reasoning 15 (1):69 – 100 (2009)
Prior research shows that reasoners' confidence is poorly calibrated (Shynkaruk & Thompson, 2006). The goal of the current experiment was to increase calibration in syllogistic reasoning by training reasoners on (a) the concept of logical necessity and (b) the idea that more than one representation of the premises may be possible. Training improved accuracy and was also effective in remedying some systematic misunderstandings about the task: those in the training condition were better at estimating their overall performance than those who were untrained. However, training was less successful in helping reasoners to discriminate which items are most likely to cause them difficulties. In addition we explored other variables that may affect confidence and accuracy, such as the number of models required to represent the problem and whether or not the presented conclusion was necessitated by the premises, possible given the premises, or impossible given the premises. These variables had systematically different relationships to confidence and accuracy. Thus, we propose that confidence in reasoning judgements is analogous to confidence in memory retrievals, in that they are inferentially derived from cues that are not diagnostic in terms of accuracy.
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