The Influence of Linguistic Form on Reasoning: The Case of Matching Bias

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A well-established phenomenon in reasoning research is matching bias : a tendency to select information that matches the lexical content of propositional statements, regardless of the logically critical presence of negations. Previous research suggested, however, that the effect might be restricted to reasoning with conditional statements. This paper reports two experiments in which participants were required to construct or identify true and false cases of propositional rules of several kinds, including universal statements, disjunctions, and negated conjunctions. Matching bias was observed across all rule types but largely restricted to problems where participants were required to falsify rather than to verify the rules. A third experiment showed a similar generalization across linguistic forms in the Wason selection task with only if conditionals substituted for universals. The results are discussed with reference to contemporary theories of propositional reasoning.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 1999

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