The transitive task revisited: Investigating key hallmarks from the start to the end of training

Thinking and Reasoning 12 (1):91 – 123 (2006)
Abstract
Transitive inference (TI) plays a part in many aspects of reasoning, and is usually assessed using variants on a particular task dubbed the “IP-paradigm”. Advocates of this paradigm assume it ensures that subjects must use deduction to solve the inferential questions. The present task with 63 adults strengthened this claim by removing all possible perceptual cues and limiting as far as possible all cues from the training procedure itself. Response speed and accuracy were measured as premises were learned. Findings show that when over-training and non-logical cues are avoided, adults nevertheless reach high levels of overall performance. However, key indexes of Lexical Marking, Relative-End-Anchoring, and Symbolic Distance are largely absent or in the opposite direction to the generally accepted view at the start of training, and are present only for response time (RT) at the end of training. The widely accepted strategy of retrieval from an integrated mental representation does emerge; but only after an initial associative process and a deductive process. Regarding three comparisons critical for demonstrating deductive TI, the inference was more demanding than its antecedents both in terms of accuracy and RT, and both after initial and final training. Existing theories of TI account for some of these findings, but what is required is a theory accommodating them all.
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