Rule transition on the balance scale task: a case study in belief change

Synthese 155 (2):211-236 (2007)

For various domains in proportional reasoning cognitive development is characterized as a progression through a series of increasingly complex rules. A multiplicative relationship between two task features, such as weight and distance information of blocks placed at both sides of the fulcrum of a balance scale, appears difficult to discover. During development, children change their beliefs about the balance scale several times: from a focus on the weight dimension (Rule I) to occasionally considering the distance dimension (Rule II), guessing (Rule III), and applying multiplication (Rule IV; Siegler, 1981). Because of the detailed empirical findings the balance scale task has become a benchmark task for computational models of proportional reasoning. In this article, we present a large empirical study (N = 420) of which the findings provide a challenge for computational models. The effect of feedback and the effect of individually adapted training items on rule transition were tested for children using Rule I or Rule II. Presenting adapted training items initiates belief revision for Rule I but not for Rule II. The experience of making mistakes (by providing feedback) induces a change for both Rule I and Rule II. However, a delayed posttest shows that these changes are preserved after 2 weeks only for children using Rule I. We conclude that the transition from Rule I to Rule II differs from the transition from Rule II to a more complex rule. Concerning these empirical findings, we will review performance of computational models and the implications for a future belief revision model. It is one Thing, to show a Man that he is in an Error, and another, to put him in possession of Truth. John Locke.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy of Language   Metaphysics   Epistemology   Logic   Philosophy
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-006-9142-9
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Conscious and Unconscious Strategy Discoveries: A Microgenetic Analysis.Robert S. Siegler & Elsbeth Stern - 1998 - Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 127 (4):377-397.

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