"At least one" problem with "some" formal reasoning paradigms


Journal Article


Schmidt, J.R., Thompson, V.A.




"At least one" problem with "some" formal reasoning paradigms

Journal / book / conference

Memory & Cognition


In formal reasoning, the quantifier "some" means "at least one and possibly all." In contrast, reasoners often pragmatically interpret "some" to mean "some, but not all" on both immediate-inference and Euler circle tasks. It is still unclear whether pragmatic interpretations can explain the high rates of errors normally observed on syllogistic reasoning tasks. To address this issue, we presented participants (reasoners) in the present experiments either standard quantifiers or clarified quantifiers designed to precisely articulate the quantifiers' logical interpretations. In Experiment 1, reasoners made significantly more logical responses and significantly fewer pragmatic responses on an immediate-inference task when presented with logically clarified as opposed to standard quantifiers. In Experiment 2, this finding was extended to a variant of the immediate-inference task in which reasoners were asked to deduce what followed from premises they were to assume to be false. In Experiment 3, we used a syllogistic reasoning task and observed that logically clarified premises reduced pragmatic and increased logical responses relative to standard ones, providing strong evidence that pragmatic responses can explain some aspects of the errors made in the syllogistic reasoning task. These findings suggest that standard quantifiers should be replaced with logically clarified quantifiers in teaching and in future research






working-memory belief bias individual-differences perspective quantifiers strategies syllogisms frequency deduction necessity

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