The relevance effect and conditionals

Cognition 150 (C):26-36 (2016)
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More than a decade of research has found strong evidence for P(if A, then C) = P(C|A) (“the Equation”). We argue, however, that this hypothesis provides an overly simplified picture due to its inability to account for relevance. We manipulated relevance in the evaluation of the probability and acceptability of indicative conditionals and found that relevance moderates the effect of P(C|A). This corroborates the Default and Penalty Hypothesis put forward in this paper. Finally, the probability and acceptability of concessive conditionals (“Even if A, then still C”) were investigated and it was found that the Equation provides a better account of concessive conditionals than of indicatives across relevance manipulations.



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Niels Skovgaard-Olsen
University of Freiburg