DOES THE SOCIAL CONTENT OF THE PROBLEM INFLUENCE CONDITIONAL REASONING? AN EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH USING THREE CARD SELECTION TASKS
DIANA PAULA DUDĂU
University of Bucharest,
Department of Psychology
This study aimed to investigate the possible differences regarding the accuracy of modus ponens and modus tollens inference rules depending on the content of the given conditional problem.
As a main hypothesis, I presumed that the overall conditional reasoning and the modus tollens argument would be correctly applied in a higher proportion when the content of the problem referred to a concrete social situation, rather than when it was expressed in an abstract form.
The 111 participants – persons (Mage = 26.86; SD = 10.21) with various occupations – were equally assigned to three independent groups defined by a different version of a card selection problem similar to the one proposed by Wason in 1966 (as cited in Goldstein, 2008).
Overall, the obtained results sustained the general hypothesis according to which the participants’ answers would be affected by the content of the reasoning problem. Modus tollens was selected more frequently when the coditional statement reflected a social context rather than when it had an abstract formulation. Contrary to my expectations, there were not found statistically significant differences between the three groups, regarding the percentage of the participants who had a correct overall reasoning. Some other important findings were also thoroughly discussed.
Keywords: conditional reasoning, modus ponens, modus tollens, denying the antecedent, affirming the consequent.
FULL TEXT: download PDF...