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Conditionals and inferential connections: A hypothetical inferential theory

Douven, I; Elqayam, S; Singmann, H; van Wijnbergen-Huitink, J; (2018) Conditionals and inferential connections: A hypothetical inferential theory. Cognitive Psychology , 101 pp. 50-81. 10.1016/j.cogpsych.2017.09.002. Green open access

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Abstract

Intuition suggests that for a conditional to be evaluated as true, there must be some kind ofconnection between its component clauses. In this paper, we formulate and test a new psycho-logical theory to account for this intuition. We combined previous semantic and psychologicaltheorizing to propose that the key to the intuition is a relevance-driven, satisficing-boundedinferential connection between antecedent and consequent. To test our theory, we created anovel experimental paradigm in which participants were presented with a soritical series ofobjects, notably colored patches (Experiments 1 and 4) and spheres (Experiment 2), or both(Experiment 3), and were asked to evaluate related conditionals embodying non-causal in-ferential connections (such as“If patch number 5 is blue, then so is patch number 4”). All fourexperiments displayed a unique response pattern, in which (largely determinate) responses weresensitive to parameters determining inference strength, as well as to consequent position in theseries, in a way analogous to belief bias. Experiment 3 showed that this guaranteed relevance canbe suppressed, with participants reverting to the defective conditional. Experiment 4 showed thatthis pattern can be partly explained by a measure of inference strength. This pattern supports ourtheory’s“principle of relevant inference”and“principle of bounded inference,”highlighting thedual processing characteristics of the inferential connection.

Type: Article
Title: Conditionals and inferential connections: A hypothetical inferential theory
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.cogpsych.2017.09.002
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cogpsych.2017.09.002
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/BY-NC-ND/4.0/)
Keywords: Belief bias, Conditionals, Dual processing, Inferential semantics, Relevance, Satisficing
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10107863
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