Objective Evaluation of Demonstrative Arguments
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Many experiments suggest that participants are more critical of arguments that challenge their views or that come from untrustworthy sources. However, other results suggest that this might not be true of demonstrative arguments. A series of four experiments tested whether people are influenced by two factors when they evaluate demonstrative arguments: how confident they are in the answer being challenged by the argument, and how much they trust the source of the argument. Participants were not affected by their confidence in the answer challenged by the argument. By contrast, they were sometimes affected by their trust in the argument’s source. Analyses of reaction times and transfer problems suggest that source trustworthiness did not directly affect argument evaluation, but affected instead the number of times the participants considered the arguments. Our results thus suggest that people can evaluate demonstrative arguments objectively. In conclusion, we defend the hypothesis that people might also be able to evaluate non-demonstrative arguments objectively. These results support the predictions of the argumentative theory of reasoning.
KeywordsArgument evaluation Demonstrative arguments Prior beliefs Trust Bias
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