This book represents the first major attempt by any author to provide an integrated account of the evidence for bias in human reasoning across a wide range of disparate psychological literatures. The topics discussed involve both deductive and inductive reasoning as well as statistical judgement and inference. In addition, the author proposes a general theoretical approach to the explanations of bias and considers the practical implications for real world decision making. The theoretical stance of the book is based on a (...) distinction between preconscious heuristic processes which determine the mental representation of 'relevant' features of the problem content, and subsequent analytic reasoning processes which generate inferences and judgements. Phenomena discussed and interpreted within this framework include feature matching biases in propositional reasoning, confirmation bias, biasing and debiasing effects of knowledge on reasoning, and biases in statistical judgement normally attributed to 'availability' and 'representativeness' heuristics. In the final chapter, the practical consequences of bias for real life decision making are considered, together with various issues concerning the problem of 'debiasing'. The major approaches discussed are those involving education and training on the one hand, and the development of intelligent software and interactive decision aids on the other. (shrink)
'IF' is one of the most important and interesting words in the English language, being used to express hypothetical thought. The use of conditionals such as 'if' also distinguishes human intelligence from that of all other animals. In this volume, Jonathan Evans and David Over present a new theoretical approach to understanding hypothetical thought. The book draws on studies from the psychology of judgement and decision making, as well as philosophical logic.
In common with a number of other authors I believe that there has been a paradigm shift in the psychology of reasoning, specifically the area traditionally labelled as the study of deduction. The deduction paradigm was founded in a philosophical tradition that assumed logicality as the basis for rational thought, and provided binary propositional logic as the agreed normative framework. By contrast, many contemporary authors assume that people have degrees of uncertainty in both premises and conclusions, and reject binary logic (...) as a workable normative system. I discuss a number of questions and challenges for this new psychology of reasoning, including the following: (a) Do we need an alternative normative system, such as Bayesianism, for the new paradigm? (b) Is there any longer a clear distinction between the study of deductive and inductive reasoning, the latter having its own tradition and literature? (c) Precisely how is the integrated study of reasoning and decision making facilitated by the new paradigm? (d) What difficulties with dual-processing approaches need to be resolved, if they are to take us forward? (shrink)
This book explores the idea that much of our behaviour is controlled by automatic and intuitive mental processes, which shape and compete with our conscious thinking and decision making. Accessibly written, and assuming no prior knowledge of the field, the book will be fascinating reading for all those interested in human behaviour.
The two main psychological theories of the ordinary conditional were designed to account for inferences made from assumptions, but few premises in everyday life can be simply assumed true. Useful premises usually have a probability that is less than certainty. But what is the probability of the ordinary conditional and how is it determined? We argue that people use a two stage Ramsey test that we specify to make probability judgements about indicative conditionals in natural language, and we describe experiments (...) that support this conclusion. Our account can explain why most people give the conditional probability as the probability of the conditional, but also why some give the conjunctive probability. We discuss how our psychological work is related to the analysis of ordinary indicative conditionals in philosophical logic. (shrink)
In this paper, I show that the question of how dual process theories of reasoning and judgement account for conflict between System 1 (heuristic) and System 2 (analytic) processes needs to be explicated and addressed in future research work. I demonstrate that a simple additive probability model that describes such conflict can be mapped on to three different cognitive models. The pre-emptive conflict resolution model assumes that a decision is made at the outset as to whether a heuristic or analytic (...) process will control the response. The parallel-competitive model assumes that each system operates in parallel to deliver a putative response, resulting sometimes in conflict that then needs to be resolved. Finally, the default-interventionist model involves the cueing of default responses by the heuristic system that may or may not be altered by subsequent intervention of the analytic system. A second, independent issue also emerges from this discussion. The superior performance of higher-ability participants on reasoning tasks may be due to the fact that they engage in more analytic reasoning ( quantity hypothesis ) or alternatively to the fact that the analytic reasoning they apply is more effective ( quality hypothesis ). (shrink)
I argue that views of human rationality are strongly affected by the adoption of a two minds theory in which humans have an old mind which evolved early and shares many features of animal cognition, as well as new mind which evolved later and is distinctively developed in humans. Both minds have a form of instrumental rationality—striving for the attainment of goals—but by very different mechanisms. The old mind relies on a combination of evolution and experiential learning, and is therefore (...) driven entirely by repeating behaviours which succeeded in the past. The new mind, however, permits the solution of novel problems by reasoning about the future, enabling consequential decision making. I suggest that the concept of epistemic rationality—striving for true knowledge—can only usefully be applied to the new mind with its access to explicit knowledge and beliefs. I also suggest that we commonly interpret behaviour as irrational when the old mind conflicts with the new and frustrates the goals of the conscious person. (shrink)
Dual-process theories of higher cognition, distinguishing between intuitive (Type 1) and reflective (Type 2) thinking, have become increasingly popular, although also subject to recent criticism. A key question, to which a number of contributions in this special issue relate, is how to define the difference between the two kinds of processing. One issue discussed is whether they differ at Marr’s computational level of analysis. I believe they do but that ultimately the debate will decided at the implementational level where distinct (...) cognitive and neural systems need to be demonstrated. Other distinctions raised in the issue are the unique ability for metarepresentation, cognitive decoupling and hypothetical thinking at the Type 2 level, and the association of emotion and metacognitive feelings with the Type 1 level. The relation of the latter to cognitive control is also discussed. (shrink)
In this study, we examine the belief bias effect in syllogistic reasoning under both standard presentation and in a condition where participants are required to respond within 10 seconds. As predicted, the requirement for rapid responding increased the amount of belief bias observed on the task and reduced the number of logically correct decisions, both effects being substantial and statistically significant. These findings were predicted by the dual-process account of reasoning, which posits that fast heuristic processes, responsible for belief bias, (...) compete with slower analytic processes that can lead to correct logical decisions. Requiring rapid responding thus differentially inhibits the operation of analytic reasoning processes, leading to the results observed. (shrink)
The phenomenon known as matching bias consists of a tendency to see cases as relevant in logical reasoning tasks when the lexical content of a case matches that of a propositional rule, normally a conditional, which applies to that case. Matching is demonstrated by use of the negations paradigm that is by using conditionals in which the presence and absence of negative components is systematically varied. The phenomenon was first published in 1972 and the present paper reviews the history of (...) research and theorising on the problem in the subsequent 25 years. Theories of matching bias considered include those based on several broad frameworks including the heuristic-analytic theory, the mental models theory, the theory of optimal data selection, and relevance theory as well as the specific processing-negations account. The ability of these theories to account for a range of phenomena is considered, including the effects of linguistic form, realistic content, and explicit negation on the matching bias effect. Of particular importance are recent findings showing that the bias is observable on a wider range of linguistic forms than has generally been thought, and that it is almost entirely dependent on the use of implicit negation in the logical cases to which rules are applied. The reasons for the general suppression of matching when realistic content is used are, however, unclear and a need for further research is identified here. It is concluded that matching bias is a highly robust effect which is closely connected with the problem of understanding implicit negation. Most of the theories in the literature are unable to account for at least some of the major phenomena discovered in research on the bias. The accounts that fare best are those that posit local effects of negation, including the heuristic-analytic and processing negations theories. (shrink)
[About the book] This book explores the idea that we have two minds - automatic, unconscious, and fast, the other controlled, conscious, and slow. In recent years there has been great interest in so-called dual-process theories of reasoning and rationality. According to such theories, there are two distinct systems underlying human reasoning - an evolutionarily old system that is associative, automatic, unconscious, parallel, and fast, and a more recent, distinctively human system that is rule-based, controlled, conscious, serial, and slow. Within (...) the former, processes the former, processes are held to be innate and to use heuristics that evolved to solve specific adaptive problems. In the latter, processes are taken to be learned, flexible, and responsive to rational norms. Despite the attention these theories are attracting, there is still poor communication between dual-process theorists themselves, and the substantial bodies of work on dual processes in cognitive psychology and social psychology remain isolated from each other. This book brings together leading researchers on dual processes to summarize the state-of-the-art, highlight key issues, present different perspectives, explore implications, and provide a stimulus to further work. It includes new ideas about the human mind both by contemporary philosophers interested in broad theoretical questions about mental architecture and by psychologists specialising in traditionally distinct and isolated fields. For all those in the cognitive sciences, this is a book that will advance dual-process theorizing, promote interdisciplinary communication, and encourage further applications of dual-process approaches. (shrink)
We tested the hypothesis that choices determined by Type 1 processes are compelling because they are fluent, and for this reason they are less subject to analytic thinking than other answers. A total of 104 participants completed a modified version of Wason's selection task wherein they made decisions about one card at a time using a two-response paradigm. In this paradigm participants gave a fast, intuitive response, rated their feeling of rightness for that response, and were then allowed free time (...) to reconsider their answers. As we predicted, answers consistent with a matching heuristic were made more quickly than other answers, were given higher FOR ratings, and received less subsequent analysis as measured by rethinking time and the probability of changing answers. These data suggest that reasoning biases may be compelling because they are fluently generated; this is turn creates a strong FOR, which acts as a signal that further analysis is not necessary. (shrink)
Johnson-Laird and Byrne present a theory of conditional inference based upon the manipulation of mental models. In the present paper, the theory is critically examined with regard to its ability to account for psychological data, principally with respect to the rate at which people draw the four basic inferences of modus ponens, denial of the antecedent, affirmation of the consequent and modus tollens. It is argued first that the theory is unclear in its definition and in particular with regard to (...) predictions of problem difficulty. Clarification and specification of principles are consequently provided here. Next, it is argued that there are a number of phenomena in the conditional reasoning literature for which the theory cannot account in its present form. Specifically, the relatively frequency of DA and AC inferences on affirmative conditionals is not as predicted by the theory, differences occur between inferences on if then and only if rules beyond the capacity of the theory to explain and there is no account of the “negative conclusion bias” observed when negated components are introduced into the rules. A number of revisions to the mental model theory of conditional reasoning are proposed in order to account for these findings. (shrink)
In two experiments we tested the hypothesis that the mechanisms that produce belief bias generalise across reasoning tasks. In formal reasoning (i.e., syllogisms) judgements of validity are influenced by actual validity, believability of the conclusions, and an interaction between the two. Although apparently analogous effects of belief and argument strength have been observed in informal reasoning, the design of those studies does not permit an analysis of the interaction effect. In the present studies we redesigned two informal reasoning tasks: the (...) Argument Evaluation Task (AET) and a Law of Large Numbers (LLN) task in order to test the similarity of the phenomena concerned. Our findings provide little support for the idea that belief bias on formal and informal reasoning is a unitary phenomenon. First, there was no correlation across individuals in the extent of belief bias shown on the three tasks. Second, evidence for belief by strength interaction was observed only on AET and under conditions not required for the comparable finding on syllogistic reasoning. Finally, we found that while conclusion believability strongly influenced assessments of arguments strength, it had a relatively weak influence on the verbal justifications offered on the two informal reasoning tasks. (shrink)
I agree with Oaksford & Chater (O&C) that human beings resemble Bayesian reasoners much more closely than ones engaging standard logic. However, I have many problems with their framework, which appears to be rooted in normative rather than ecological rationality. The authors also overstate everyday rationality and neglect to account for much relevant psychological work on reasoning.
In this paper, I discuss conditionals as illocutionary speech acts whose interpretation depends upon the whole of the social context in which they are uttered and whose purpose is to affect the opinions and actions of others. I argue for a suppositional approach to conditional statements based in what philosophers call the Ramsey test and developing the psychological theory that conditionals elicit a process of hypothetical thinking in their listeners. By reference to the experimental psychological literature on conditionals, I show (...) that in general conditionals, even ones that are basic or abstract in nature, are not treated as truth-functional or material by ordinary people. Drawing upon the suppositional nature of conditionals and the influence of pragmatic implicature, I discuss uses of conditionals as advice, inducement, persuasions and dissuasion, arguing that speakers use conditionals to try to influence the beliefs and actions of their listeners by shaping their hypothetical thought about possibilities. (shrink)
This excellent target article helps to resolve a problem for dual-process theories of higher cognition. Theorists posit two systems, one of which appears to be conscious and volitional. It seems to control some behaviours but to confabulate explanations for others. I argue that this system is only conscious in an illusory sense and that all self-explanations are confabulatory, as Carruthers suggests.
We report the results of three experiments designed to assess the role of suppositions in human reasoning. Theories of reasoning based on formal rules propose that the ability to make suppositions is central to deductive reasoning. Our first experiment compared two types of problem that could be solved by a suppositional strategy. Our results showed no difference in difficulty between problems requiring affirmative or negative suppositions and very low logical solution rates throughout. Further analysis of the error data showed a (...) pattern of responses, which suggested that participants reason from a superficial representation of the premises in these arguments and this drives their choice of conclusion. Our second experiment employed a different set of suppositional problems but with extremely similar proofs in terms of the rules applied and number of inferential steps required. As predicted by our interpretation of reasoning strategies employed in Experiment 1, logical performance was very much higher on these problems. Our third experiment showed that problems that could be solved by constructing an initial representation of the premises were easier than problems in which this representation was not sufficient. This effect was independent of the suppositional structure of the problems. We discuss the implications of this research for theories of reasoning based on mental models and inference rules. (shrink)
Dienes' & Perner's proposals are discussed in relation to the distinction between explicit and implicit systems of thinking. Evans and Over (1996) propose that explicit processing resources are required for hypothetical thinking, in which mental models of possible world states are constructed. Such thinking requires representations in which the individuals' propositional attitudes including relevant beliefs and goals are made fully explicit.
In this paper we argue that it is often adaptive to use one's background beliefs when interpreting information that, from a normative point of view, is incomplete. In both of the experiments reported here participants were presented with an item possessing two features and were asked to judge, in the light of some evidence concerning the features, to which of two categories it was more likely that the item belonged. It was found that when participants received evidence relevant to just (...) one of these hypothesised categories they used their background beliefs to interpret this information. In Experiment 2, on the other hand, participants behaved in a broadly Bayesian manner when the evidence they received constituted a completed likelihood ratio. We discuss the circumstances under which participants, when making their judgements, consider the alternative hypothesis. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of our results for an understanding of hypothesis testing, belief revision, and categorisation. (shrink)
Carruthers’proposals would seem to implicate language in what is known as System 2 thinking (explicit) rather than System 1 thinking (implicit) in contemporary dual process theories of thinking and reasoning. We provide outline description of these theories and show that while Carruthers’characterization of non-verbal processes as domain-specific identifies one critical feature of System 1 thinking, he appears to overlook the fact that much cognition of this type results from domain-general learning processes. We also review cognitive psychological evidence that shows that (...) language and the explicit representations it supports are heavily involved in supporting System 1 thinking, but falls short of supporting his claim that it is the medium in which domain-general thinking occurs. (shrink)
The aim of the present research was to develop a difficulty model for logical reasoning problems involving complex ordered arrays used in the Graduate Record Examination. The approach used involved breaking down the problems into their basic cognitive elements such as the complexity of the rules used, the number of mental models required to represent the problem, and question type. Weightings for these different elements were derived from two experimental studies and from the reasoning literature. Based on these weights, difficulty (...) models were developed which were then tested against new data. The models had excellent predictive validity and showed the relative influence of rule based factors and factors relating to the number of underlying models. Different difficulty models were needed for different question types, suggesting that people used a variety of approaches and, at a wider level, that both mental models and mental rules may be used in reasoning. (shrink)
We agree that current evolutionary accounts of base-rate neglect are unparsimonious, but we dispute the authors' account of the effect in terms of parallel associative and rule-based processes. We also question their assumption that cueing of nested set relations facilitates performance due to recruitment of explicit reasoning processes. In our account, such reasoning is always involved, but usually unsuccessful.
Yama (2001) has presented an ingenious series of experiments in which he attempts to separate two accounts in the literature of the cause of "matching bias" in conditional reasoning. One account is that the bias arises from the way in which people process negations and the other is that it is due to the larger set sizes associated with negative propositions, rather than negation per se . Yama's experiments show influences of both negation and set size, from which he concludes (...) that both factors contribute to the matching bias that is normally observed. In this note, it is argued that this conclusion is at odds with other findings in the literature, particularly those investigating implicit negation as the cause of the bias. Introducing explicit negations has been shown to remove matching bias completely and not partially, as Yama's account must predict. A possible reconciliation is proposed in terms of subtle contextual differences introduced by Yama's experiments. (shrink)