Conditional reasoning and the Wason selection task: Biconditional interpretation instead of reasoning bias

Thinking and Reasoning 13 (4):484 – 505 (2007)
Abstract
Two experiments were conducted to show that the IF … THEN … rules used in the different versions of Wason's (1966) selection task are not psychologically—though they are logically—equivalent. Some of these rules are considered by the participants as strict logical conditionals, whereas others are interpreted as expressing a biconditional relationship. A deductive task was used jointly with the selection task to show that the original abstract rule is quite ambiguous in this respect, contrary to deontic rules: the typical “error” made by most people may indeed be explained by the fact that they consider the abstract rule as a biconditional. Thus, there is no proper error or bias in the selection task as it is still argued, but a differential interpretation of the rule. The need for taking into account a pragmatic component in the process of reasoning is illustrated by the experiments.
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