, Volume 146, Issue 1–2, pp 93–109 | Cite as

Coherence and Nonmonotonicity in Human Reasoning

  • Niki Pfeifer
  • Gernot D. Kleiter


Nonmonotonic reasoning is often claimed to mimic human common sense reasoning. Only a few studies, though, have investigated this claim empirically. We report four experiments which investigate three rules of SYSTEMP, 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 SYSTEMP. We found a relatively good agreement of human reasoning and principles of nonmonotonic reasoning. Contrary to the results reported in the ‘heuristics and biases’ tradition, the subjects committed relatively few upper bound violations (conjunction fallacies).


Lower Probability Common Sense Logical Equivalence Actual Inference Human Reasoning 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Braine, M.D.S.O’Brien, D.P. eds. 1998Mental LogicErlbaumMahwah, NJGoogle Scholar
  2. Coletti, G., Scozzafava, R. 2002Probabilistic Logic in a Coherent SettingKluwerDordrechtGoogle Scholar
  3. DaSilva Neves, R., Bonnefon, J.-F., Raufaste, E. 2002‘An Empirical Test of Patterns for Nonmonotonic Inference’Annals of Mathematics and Artificial Intelligence34107130Google Scholar
  4. Ford, M., Billington, D. 2000‘Strategies in Human Nonmonotonic Reasoning’Computational Intelligence16446468CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Gilio, A. 2002‘Probabilistic Reasoning under Coherence in System P’Annals of Mathematics and Artificial Intelligence34534CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hertwig, R., Gigerenzer, G. 1999‘The “Conjunction Fallacy” Revisited: How Intelligent Inferences Look Like Reasoning Errors’Journal of Behavioral Decision Making12275305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Kraus, S., Lehmann, D., Magidor, M. 1990‘Nonmonotonic Reasoning, Preferential Models and Cumulative Logics’Artificial Intelligence44167207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Lifschitz, V. 1989‘Benchmark Problems for Formal Nonmonotonic Reasoning, Version 2.00’Reinfrank, M.Kleer, J.Ginsberg, M. eds. Nonmonotonic ReasoningSpringerBerlin202219Google Scholar
  9. Mellers, B., Hertwig, R., Kahneman, D. 2001‘Do Frequency Representations Eliminate Conjunction Effects? An Exercise in Adversarial Collaboration’Psychological Science12269275Google Scholar
  10. Pelletier, F.J., Elio, R. 2003‘Logic and Computation: Human Performance in Default Reasoning’Gärdenfors, P.Wolenski, J.Kijania-Placet, K. eds. In the scope of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science, Vol. IKluwerDordrecht137154Google Scholar
  11. Pfeifer N. (2002). ‘Poychological Investigations on Human Nonmonotonic Reasoning with a Focus on System P and the Conjunction Fallacy’. Master’s thesis Institut für Psychologie, Universtät Salzburg nikipfeifer@yahoo.deGoogle Scholar
  12. Rips, L.J. 1994The Psychology of Proof: Deductive Reasoning in Human ThinkingMIT PressCambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  13. Schurz, G. 1997‘Probabilistic Default Reasoning Based on Relevance and Irrelevance Assumptions’Gabbay, D.e.a. eds. Qualitative and Quantitative Practical Reasoning, No. 1244 in LNAISpringerBerlin536553Google Scholar
  14. Schurz G. (2001). ‘Nichtmonotones Schließen: Ergebnisse einer empirischen Untersuchung’, Technical report, Institut für Philosophie, SFB F012 Forschungsmitteilungen, p. 17Google Scholar
  15. Tversky, A., Kahneman, D. 1983‘Extensional versus Intuitive Reasoning: The Conjunction Fallacy in Probability Judgment’Psychological Review90293315Google Scholar
  16. Vogel, C. 1996‘Human Reasoning with Negative Defaults’Gabbay, D.Ohlbach, H.J. eds. Practical Reasoning, Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence, 1085SpringerBerlin606621Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of SalzburgSalzburgAustria

Personalised recommendations