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Syllogistic reasoning in varied narrative contexts: Aspects of logical and linguistic development

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This experimental study examined the effects on syllogistic reasoning in grades 6 and 12 of certain contextual narrative variables. The experimental task consisted of 27 varied syllogistic problems based on information contained in three narrative texts—a fantasy passage, a realistic passage, and a contractual passage. Versions of these texts were constructed for each group reading level. Analysis of the data revealed several significant interactions between subject groups and treatment variables. In particular, younger subjects performed better than grade 12 subjects on problems following the fantasy narrative, while the older subjects did better with the other two passages. The results suggest that some orthodox views about concrete-versus formal-operational reasoning abilities and about the distinction between abstract and concrete materials need to be reassessed within a discourse-processing framework that is sensitive to the discourse worlds in which problems are embedded.

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The author wishes to acknowledge the support of an Isaak Walton Killam Doctoral Scholarship for this research.

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Piper, D. Syllogistic reasoning in varied narrative contexts: Aspects of logical and linguistic development. J Psycholinguist Res 14, 19–43 (1985).

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  • Young Subject
  • Treatment Variable
  • Experimental Task
  • Reading Level
  • Reasoning Ability