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The suppression of q card selections: Evidence for deductive inference in Wason's Selection Task

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The results of three experiments investigating the role of deductive inference in Wason's selection task are reported. In Experiment 1, participants received either a standard one-rule problem or a task containing a second rule, which specified an alternative antecedent. Both groups of participants were asked to select those cards that they considered were necessary to test whether the rule common to both problems was true or false. The results showed a significant suppression of q card selections in the two-rule condition. In addition there was weak evidence for both decreased p selection and increased not-q selection. In Experiment 2 we again manipulated number of rules and found suppression of q card selections only. Finally, in Experiment 3 we compared one- and two-rule conditions with a two-rule condition where the second rule specified two alternative antecedents in the form of a disjunction. The q card selections were suppressed in both of the two-rule conditions but there was no effect of whether the second rule contained one or two alternative antecedents. We argue that our results support the claimthat people make inferences about the unseen side of the cards when engaging with the indicative selection task.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Durham, Durham, U.K. 2: University of Plymouth, Plymouth, U.K.

Publication date: November 1, 2000


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