Premise Misinterpretation and Syllogistic Reasoning

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A study by Ceraso and Provitera (1971) found that elaboration of the premises used in syllogistic reasoning led to substantially improved performance. This finding is of considerable importance because of the implications it has for mental logic and mental models theories of reasoning. Three experiments are reported, which replicated and extended the original findings. It was found that elaboration led to a significant improvement in performance, but that this was confined to multiple model syllogisms, where the elaboration has the effect of reducing the number of models involved. A fourth experiment indicated that elaboration can vary within the same syllogism depending on the direction of the conclusion drawn. These findings are best explained under the assumption that reasoners build mental models when solving problems and that elaboration can reduce the number of possible models.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 1999

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