Title

Suppression of Valid Inferences: Syntactic Views, Mental Models, and Relative Salience

Publication Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

1-1994

Abstract

Byrne (1989) has demonstrated that although subjects can make deductively valid inferences of the modus ponens and modus tollens forms, these valid inferences can be suppressed by presenting an appropriate additional premise 'If R then Q' with the original conditional 'If P then Q'. This suppression effect challenges the assumption of all syntactic theories of conditional reasoning that formal rules of inference such as modus ponens is part of mental logic. This paper argues that both the syntactic and the mental model accounts of the suppression effect are inadequate because they fail to give a principled account of the critical interpretive component involved in reasoning. In contrast, the relative salience model proposed in this study emphasized the centrality of the interpretative processes with the critical component being the relative salience of premises as judged by subjects on the basis of their prior knowledge activated in particular problem situations. Using 120 undergraduates and 120 policemen as subjects, predictions from the model were tested and confirmed in a suppression paradigm and evidence of convergent validity for the construct of salience were obtained. The results cannot be reconciled with either the syntactic view or the mental model view that have dominated theories of conditional reasoning.

Discipline

Social Psychology

Research Areas

Psychology

Publication

Cognition

Volume

53

Issue

3

First Page

217

Last Page

238

ISSN

0010-0277

Identifier

10.1016/0010-0277(94)90049-3

Publisher

Elsevier

Additional URL

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0010-0277(94)90049-3

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