• Reuven BabaiEmail author
  • Rachel Rosanne Eidelman
  • Ruth Stavy


Many students encounter difficulties in science and mathematics. Earlier research suggested that although intuitions are often needed to gain new ideas and concepts and to solve problems in science and mathematics, some of students’ difficulties could stem from the interference of intuitive reasoning. The literature suggests that overcoming intuitive interference is associated with the activation of inhibitory control mechanisms. The goal of the current study was to find out whether indeed the reasoning processes associated with overcoming intuitive interference are different from the ones related to answering correctly in line with the intuition. To do so, we focused on the comparison-of-perimeters of geometrical shapes task that triggers intuitive responses and applied the prime–probe paradigm. High school students were presented with pairs of congruent and incongruent trials of different combinations. The findings showed that previous trial congruity affects response times of the probe. When congruent trials followed incongruent prime, an increase in response time was observed as compared with congruent trials that followed congruent ones, and vice versa. In addition, when congruent trials followed incongruent-equal prime, not only did response time increase but accuracy significantly dropped as well. The current study supports the suggestion that inhibitory control mechanisms play a key role in overcoming intuitive interference, even in adolescence, and points to the importance of enhancing students’ inhibitory control mechanisms.


comparison-of-perimeters executive functions inhibitory control mechanisms intuitive interference intuitive reasoning 


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Copyright information

© National Science Council, Taiwan 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reuven Babai
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rachel Rosanne Eidelman
    • 1
  • Ruth Stavy
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Science Education, The Constantiner School of EducationTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael

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