People can reason about the preferences of other agents, and predict their behavior based on these preferences. Surprisingly, the psychology of reasoning has long neglected this fact, and focused instead on disinterested inferences, of which preferences are neither an input nor an output. This exclusive focus is untenable, though, as there is mounting evidence that reasoners take into account the preferences of others, at the expense of logic when logic and preferences point to different conclusions. This article summarizes the most (...) recent account of how reasoners predict the behavior and attitude of other agents based on conditional rules describing actions and their consequences, and reports new experimental data about which assumptions reasoners retract when their predictions based on preferences turn out to be false. (shrink)
This commentary questions Elqayam & Evans' (E&E's) claims that thinking tasks are doomed to have multiple normative readings and that only applied research allows normative evaluations. In fact, some tasks have just one undisputed normative reading, and not only pathological gamblers but also normal individuals sometimes need normative guidance. To conclude, normative evaluations are inevitable in the investigation of human thinking.
Four studies show that observers and readers imagine different alternatives to reality. When participants read a story about a protagonist who chose the more difficult of two tasks and failed, their counterfactual thoughts focused on the easier, unchosen task. But when they observed the performance of an individual who chose and failed the more difficult task, participants' counterfactual thoughts focused on alternative ways to solve the chosen task, as did the thoughts of individuals who acted out the event. We conclude (...) that these role effects may occur because participants' attention is engaged when they experience or observe an event more than when they read about it. (shrink)
We have found that moral considerations interact with belief ascription in determining intentionality judgment. We attribute this finding to a differential availability of plausible counterfactual alternatives that undo the negative side-effect of an action. We conclude that Knobe's thesis does not account for processes by which counterfactuals are generated and how these processes affect moral evaluations.
Do moral appraisals shape judgments of intentionality? A traditional view is that individuals first evaluate whether an action has been carried out intentionally. Then they use this evaluation as input for their moral judgments. Recent studies, however, have shown that individuals’ moral appraisals can also influence their intentionality attributions. They attribute intentionality to the negative side effect of a given action, but not to the positive side effect of the same action. In three experiments, we show that this asymmetry is (...) a robust effect that critically depends on the agent’s beliefs. The asymmetry is reduced when agents are described as not knowing that their action can bring about side effects, and is eliminated when they are deemed to hold a false belief about the consequences of their actions. These results suggest that both evaluative and epistemic considerations are used in intentionality attribution. (shrink)
This paper replies to Politzer’s ( 2007 ) criticisms of the mental model theory of conditionals. It argues that the theory provides a correct account of negation of conditionals, that it does not provide a truth-functional account of their meaning, though it predicts that certain interpretations of conditionals yield acceptable versions of the ‘paradoxes’ of material implication, and that it postulates three main strategies for estimating the probabilities of conditionals.
According to Kanazawa (Psychol Rev 111:512â523, 2004), general intelligence, which he considers as a synonym of abstract thinking, evolved specifically to allow our ancestors to deal with evolutionary novel problems while conferring no advantage in solving evolutionary familiar ones. We present a study whereby the results contradict Kanazawaâs hypothesis by demonstrating that performance on an evolutionary novel problem (an abstract reasoning task) predicts performance on an evolutionary familiar problem (a social reasoning task).
I discuss an aspect of individual differences which has not been considered adequately in the target article, despite its potential role in the rationality debate. Besides having different intellectual abilities, different individuals may produce different erroneous responses to the same problem. In deductive reasoning, different response patterns contradict deterministic views of deductive inferences. In decision-making, variations in nonoptimal choice may explain successful collective actions.