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Psychology 3325 Lecture Notes - Wason Selection Task, Inductive Reasoning, Deductive Reasoning

Course Code
Psychology 3325
John Usher

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Deductive Reasoning
Inferring specific instances from general principles
o Categorical Syllogism
An argument describing the relations between categories of things
Premise 1: All A are B All VWs are reliable.
Premise 2: C is an A The Beetle is a VW.
Conclusion: C is B The Beetle is reliable.
o Conditional Syllogism
An argument describing the conditional relations between events
Premise 1: If P then Q If it is a VW, then it is reliable.
Premise 2: P is true The Beetle is a VW.
Conclusion: Q is true The Beetle is reliable.
Errors in Deductive Reasoning
Social Contract Theory (Tooby & Cosmides)
o Evolutionary selection pressures have equipped us with a “cheater detection
mechanism”—an innate set of inferential rules that help us to detect the
violation of social contracts
o Evidence: Wason Selection Task performance improves when the task is framed
in terms of contract violation
Inductive Reasoning
Inferring general principles from specific instances
o General Induction: known instances *all* instances
o Specific Induction: some instances other instances
o Hypothesisa proposition that can be evaluated or tested by gathering
evidence to support or refute it
o No inductive process can ever be certain: we cannot know all the instances that
may exist, any one of which may disprove the generalization
Errors in Inductive Reasoning
Confirmation Bias
o The disinclination to seek evidence that would indicate whether a hypothesis is
o E.g., the Wason 246 Task
Participant’s goal: Discover the rule
“Even numbers increasing by two:” e.g., 8–1012
“Any set of numbers increasing by two:” e.g., 7–911
Participants then switch from confirm to disconfirm, and soon discover
the surprisingly simple rule: “Numbers of increasing magnitude”
Analogical Reasoning
A special kind of inductive reasoning; the process of applying knowledge from domain
(“the source”) to another domain (“the target”).
“Can the solution for one problem be used to solve (i.e., be mapped onto)
Source Target
Problem -- Biological Virus Computer Virus
Solution -- Vaccine ?
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