On the conflict between logic and belief in syllogistic reasoning

J S Evans, J L Barston, P Pollard

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    491 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Three experiments are reported that investigate the weighting attached to logic and belief in syllogistic reasoning. Substantial belief biases were observed despite controls for possible conversions of the premises. Equally substantial effects of logic were observed despite controls for two possible response biases. A consistent interaction between belief and logic was also recorded; belief bias was more marked on invalid than on valid syllogisms. In all experiments, verbal protocols were recorded and analyzed. These protocols are interpreted in some cases as providing rationalizations for prejudiced decisions and, in other cases, as reflecting a genuine process of premise to conclusion reasoning. In the latter cases, belief bias was minimal but still present. Similarly, even subjects who focus primarily on the conclusion are influenced to an extent by the logic. Thus a conflict between logic and belief is observed throughout, but at several levels of extent
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)295-306
    Number of pages12
    JournalMemory and Cognition
    Volume11
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - May 1983

    Keywords

    • Cognition
    • Concept Formation
    • Humans
    • Logic
    • Problem Solving
    • Semantics

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