Stupple, Edward J. N. and Ball, Linden J. (2007) Figural Effects in a Syllogistic Evaluation Paradigm: An Inspection-Time Analysis. Experimental Psychology, 54 (2). pp. 120-127. ISSN 1618-3169
Robust biases have been found in syllogistic reasoning that relate to the figure of premises and to the directionality of terms in given conclusions. Mental models theorists (e.g., Johnson-Laird & Byrne, 1991) have explained figural bias by assuming that reasoners can more readily form integrated models of premises when their middle terms are contiguous than when they are not. Biases associated with the direction of conclusion terms have been interpreted as reflecting a natural mode of reading off conclusions from models according to a “first-in, first-out principle”. We report an experiment investigating the impact of systematic figural and conclusion-direction manipulations on the processing effort directed at syllogistic components, as indexed through a novel inspection-time method. The study yielded reliable support for mentalmodels predictions concerning the nature and locus of figural and directionality effects in syllogistic reasoning. We argue that other accounts of syllogistic reasoning seem less able to accommodate the full breadth of inspection-time findings observed.
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