Experiments on nonmonotonic reasoning. The coherence of human probability judgments

Nonmonotonic reasoning is often claimed to mimic human common sense reasoning. Only a few studies, though, investigated this claim empirically. In the present paper four psychological experiments are reported, that investigate three rules of system p, namely the and, the left logical equivalence, and the or rule. The actual inferences of the subjects are compared with the coherent normative upper and lower probability bounds derived from a non-infinitesimal probability semantics of system p. We found a relatively good agreement of human reasoning and principles of nonmonotonic reasoning according to the coherence interpretation of system p. Contrary to the results reported in the “heuristics and biases” tradition, the subjects committed relatively few upper bound violations (conjunction fallacies). More lower than upper bound violations were observed. When the premises were presented in terms of intervals higher mean lower bounds were observed as when the premises were presented in terms of point percentages.
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