Instruction and Belief Effects on Sentential Reasoning

  • Olimpia Matarazzo
  • Ivana Baldassarre
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 6456)


Research in humanreasoning has gathered increasing evidence that people tend to reason on the basis of contextualized representations, thus making conclusions compatible with previous knowledge and beliefs, regardless of the logical form of the arguments. This experiment aimed at investigating whether and to what extent sentential reasoning (i.e.reasoning based on compound sentences formed with connectives such as if/then, and, or) was sensitive to the phenomenon of belief effects, under different instruction sets. In a 3x2x2 mixed design (with the last variable as a within-subjects variable), connective sentence (conditional, conjunction and incompatible disjunction), instruction set (logical vs. pragmatic), and statement believability (high vs. low) were varied. Results showed that conjunctions were affected by both instruction set and statement believability, conditionals were affected only by statement believability, whereas no effect of experimental manipulation was found on incompatible disjunctions. Theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.


Sentential reasoning belief effects instruction set conditionals conjunctions incompatible disjunctions 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Gentzen, G.: Unstersuchungen über das logische Schliessen. Math. Zeitschrift 39, 176–210 (1935); Eng. Tr. Investigations into logical deduction. American Philosophical Quarterly, 1, 288-306 (1964) MathSciNetCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Braine, M.D.S.: On the relation between the natural logic of reasoning and standard logic. Psychological Review 85, 1–21 (1978)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Braine, M.D.S., Reiser, B.J., Rumain, B.: Some empirical justification for a theory of natural prepositional logic. In: Bower, G.H. (ed.) The psychology of learning and motivation: Advances in research and thinking, pp. 317–371. Academic Press, New York (1984)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Braine, M.D.S.: The natural logic approach to reasoning. In: Overton, W.F. (ed.) Reasoning, necessity, and logic: Developmental perspectives, pp. 133–157. Erlbaum, Hillsdale (1990)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Braine, M.D.S., O’Brien, D.P.: A theory of if: A lexical entry, reasoning program, and pragmatic principles. Psychological Review 98, 182–203 (1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Osherson, D.N.: Models of logical thinking. In: Falmagne, R. (ed.) Reasoning: Representation and process in children and adults, pp. 81–91. Erlbaum, Hillsdale (1975)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Rips, L.J.: Cognitive processes in propositional reasoning. Psychological Review 90, 38–71 (1983)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Rips, L.J.: The psychology of proof: Deductive reasoning and human thinking. MIT Press, Cambridge (1994)zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Johnson-Laird, P.N., Byrne, R.M.J., Schaeken, W.: Propositional reasoning by model. Psychological Review 99, 418–439 (1992)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Johnson-Laird, P.N.: Deductive reasoning. Annual Review of Psychology 50, 109–135 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Johnson-Laird, P.N., Byrne, R.M.J.: Conditionals: a theory of meaning, pragmatics, inference. Psychological Review 109, 646–678 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Byrne, R.M.J., Johnson-Laird, P.N.: “If” and the problem of conditional reasoning. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 13, 282–287 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Johnson-Laird, P.: Deductive reasoning. WIREs Cognitive Science 1, 8–17 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    O’Brien, D.P., Braine, M.D.S., Yang, Y.: Propositional reasoning by mental models? Simple to refute in principle and in practice. Psychological Review 101, 711–724 (1994)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Braine, M.D.S., O’Brien, D.P., Noveck, I.A., Samuels, M.C., Lea, R.B., Fisch, S.M., Yang, Y.: Predicting intermediate and multiple conclusions in propositional logic inference problems: further evidence for a mental logic. Journal of Experimental Psychology 124A, 263–292 (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Garcıa-Madruga, J.A., Moreno, S., Carriedo, N., Gutierrez, F., Johnson-Laird, P.N.: Are conjunctive inferences easier than disjunctive inferences? A comparison of rules and models. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 54A, 613–632 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Garcıa-Madruga, J.A., Gutierrez, F., Carriedo, N., Luzón, J.M., Vila, J.O.: Mental models in propositional reasoning and working memory’s central executive. Thinking & Reasoning 13, 370–393 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Van der Henst, J.B., Yang, Y., Johnson-Laird, P.N.: Strategies in sentential reasoning. Cognitive Science 26, 425–468 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Johnson-Laird, P.N., Hasson, U.: Counterexamples in sentential reasoning. Memory and Cognition 31, 1105–1113 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Fillenbaum, S.I.: Or: Some uses. Journal of Experimental Psychology 103, 913–921 (1974)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Evans, J.S.B.T., Newstead, S.E.: A study of disjunctive reasoning. Psychological Research 41, 373–388 (1980)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Noveck, I.A., Chierchia, G., Chevaux, F., Guelminger, R., Sylvestre, E.: Linguistic-pragmatic factors in interpreting disjunctions. Thinking & Reasoning 8, 297–326 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Newstead, S.E., Griggs, R.A., Chrostowski, J.J.: Reasoning with realistic disjunctives. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 36A, 611–627 (1984)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Paris, S.G.: Comprehension of language connectives and propositional logical relationships. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 16, 278–291 (1973)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Fillenbaum, S.I.: On coping with ordered and unordered conjunctive sentences. Journal of Experimental Psychology 87, 93–98 (1971)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Carston, R.: Thoughts and utterances. Blackwell, Oxford (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Bott, L., Frisson, S., Murphy, G.L.: Interpreting conjunctions. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 62, 681–706 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Barrouillet, P., Grosset, N., Lecas, J.F.: Conditional reasoning by mental models: Chronometric and developmental evidence. Cognition 75, 237–266 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Rader, A.W., Sloutsky, V.S.: Processing of logically valid and logically invalid conditional inferences in discourse comprehension. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition 28, 59–68 (2002)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Rader, A.W., Sloutsky, V.S.: Conjunctive bias in memory representations of logical connectives. Memory & Cognition 29, 838–849 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Evans, J., Evans, J.S.B.T.: Logic and human reasoning: An assessment of the deduction paradigm. Psychological Bulletin 128, 978–996 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Politzer, G.: Reasoning with conditionals. Topoi 26, 79–95 (2007)CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Schroyens, W., Schaeken, W., Kristien Dieussaert, K.: The interpretation(s) of conditionals. Experimental Psychology 55, 173–181 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Stanovich, K.E.: Who is rational? Studies of individual differences in reasoning. Erlbaum, Mahwah (1999)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Evans, J.S.B.T.: In two minds: Dual process accounts of reasoning. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 7, 454–459 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Evans, J.S.B.T.: On the resolution of conflict in dual process theories of reasoning. Thinking & Reasoning 13, 321–339 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Evans, J.S.B.T.: In two minds: Dual processes and beyond. Oxford University Press, Oxford (2008)Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Sloman, S.A.: The empirical case for two systems of reasoning. Psychological Bulletin 119, 3–22 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Sloman, S.A.: Two systems of reasoning. In: Gilovich, T., Griffin, D., Kahneman, D. (eds.) Heuristics and biases: The psychology of intuitive judgment, pp. 379–398. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Stenning, K., van Lambalgen, M.: Explaining the domain-generality of human cognition. In: Roberts, M.J. (ed.) Integrating the mind, pp. 179–209. Psychology Press, London (2007)Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Oaksford, M., Chater, N.: Précis of Bayesian rationality: The probabilistic approach to human reasoning. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 32, 69–84 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Jøsang, A.: A logic for uncertain probabilities. International Journal of Uncertainty, Fuzziness and Knowledge-Based Systems 9, 279–311 (2001)MathSciNetCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Jøsang, A.: Conditional reasoning with subjective logic. Journal of Multiple-Valued Logic and Soft Computing 15, 5–38 (2008)MathSciNetzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Oaksford, M., Chater, N.: Conditional probability and the cognitive science of conditional reasoning. Mind and Language 18, 359–379 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Oberauer, K., Wilhelm, O.: The meaning(s) of conditionals: Conditional probabilities, mental models and personal utilities. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 29, 680–693 (2003)Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Liu, I.M., Lo, K.C., Wu, J.T.: A probabilistic interpretation of “If-Then”. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 49A, 828–844 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Evans, J.S.B.T., Handley, S.J., Over, D.E.: Conditionals and conditional probability. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition 29, 321–355 (2003)Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Evans, J.S.B.T., Over, D.E.: If. Oxford University Press, Oxford (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Ramsey, F.P.: The foundations of mathematics and other logical essays. Routledge and Kegan Paul, London (1931)zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Evans, J.S.B.T., Barston, J.L., Pollard, P.: On the conflict between logic and belief in syllogistic reasoning. Memory & Cognition 11, 295–306 (1983)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Klauer, K.C., Musch, J., Naumer, B.: On belief bias in syllogistic reasoning. Psychological Review, 852–884 (2000)Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Evans, J., Evans, J.S.B.T., Handley, S.J., Neilens, H., Over, D.: The influence of cognitive ability and instructional set on causal conditional inference. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 63, 892–909 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Handley, S.J., Newstead, S.E., Trippas, D.: Logic, beliefs and instruction: A test of the default interventionist account of belief bias. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition (in press)Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Evans, J.S.B.T., Allen, J.L., Newstead, S.E., Pollard, P.: Debiasing by instruction: The case of belief bias. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology 6, 263–285 (1994)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Hertwig, R., Ortmann, A., Gigerenzer, G.: Deductive competence: A desert devoid of content and context. Current Psychology of Cognition 16, 102–107 (1997)Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Matarazzo, O., Baldassarre, I.: Probability and instruction effects in syllogistic conditional reasoning. International Journal of Social Sciences 3, 163–171 (2008)Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Malatesta, M.: An algorithm for deriving tautologies of logic of classes and relations from those of sentential calculus. Metalogicon, XIII 2, 89–123 (2000)MathSciNetzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Palladino, D.: Corso di logica. Carocci, Roma (2002)Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Peacocke, C.: Understanding logical constants: A realist’s account. Proceedings of the British Academy 73, 153–200 (1987)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olimpia Matarazzo
    • 1
  • Ivana Baldassarre
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologySecond University of NaplesItaly

Personalised recommendations