Intuitive Interference in Probabilistic Reasoning

  • Reuven BabaiEmail author
  • Tali Brecher
  • Ruth Stavy
  • Dina Tirosh


One theoretical framework which addresses students’ conceptions and reasoning processes in mathematics and science education is the intuitive rules theory. According to this theory, students’ reasoning is affected by intuitive rules when they solve a wide variety of conceptually non-related mathematical and scientific tasks that share some common external features. In this paper, we explore the cognitive processes related to the intuitive rule more Amore B and discuss issues related to overcoming its interference. We focused on the context of probability using a computerized “Probability Reasoning – Reaction Time Test.” We compared the accuracy and reaction times of responses that are in line with this intuitive rule to those that are counter-intuitive among high-school students. We also studied the effect of the level of mathematics instruction on participants’ responses. The results indicate that correct responses in line with the intuitive rule are more accurate and shorter than correct, counter-intuitive ones. Regarding the level of mathematics instruction, the only significant difference was in the percentage of correct responses to the counter-intuitive condition. Students with a high level of mathematics instruction had significantly more correct responses. These findings could contribute to designing innovative ways of assisting students in overcoming the interference of the intuitive rules.

Key Words

intuition intuitive interference intuitive rules mathematics education probability reaction time science education 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reuven Babai
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tali Brecher
    • 1
  • Ruth Stavy
    • 1
  • Dina Tirosh
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Science Education, The Jaime and Joan Constantiner School of EducationTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael

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