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Memory & Cognition

, Volume 35, Issue 8, pp 2060–2074 | Cite as

Reasoning with conditionals: Does every counterexample count? It’s frequency that counts

  • Sonja M. Geiger
  • Klaus Oberauer
Article

Abstract

A series of experiments investigated what determines people’s degree of belief in conditionals and their readiness to draw inferences from them. Information on the frequency of exceptions to conditional rules was contrasted with information about the number of different disabling conditions causing these exceptions. Experiments 1 and 2, using conditionals with arbitrary contents, revealed a strong effect of frequency information and no effect of disabling information. Experiment 3 established that, in the absence of frequency information, the disabling condition information used in Experiments 1 and 2 affected belief in the conditionals and inference acceptance, as has been found in many previous studies (Byrne, 1989; DeNeys, Schaeken, & d’Ydewalle, 2003b). Experiment 4 extended the results of Experiments 1 and 2 to everyday conditionals. The results show that belief in a conditional, and the confidence in inferences subsequently drawn from it, both depend on the subjective conditional probability of the consequent given the antecedent. This probability is estimated from the relative frequency of exceptions regardless of what causes them.

Keywords

Frequency Information Conditional Statement Cover Story Modus Ponens Probability Judgment 
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.

Supplementary material

Geiger-MC-2007.zip (10 kb)
Supplementary material, approximately 340 KB.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sonja M. Geiger
    • 1
  • Klaus Oberauer
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of PotsdamPotsdamGermany
  2. 2.University of BristolBristolEngland

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