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Durham University



Publication details for Professor David Over

Cruz, N., Baratgin, J., Oaksford, M. & Over, D. E. (2015). Bayesian reasoning with ifs and ands and ors. Frontiers in Psychology 6: 192.

Author(s) from Durham


The Bayesian approach to the psychology of reasoning generalizes binary logic, extending the binary concept of consistency to that of coherence, and allowing the study of deductive reasoning from uncertain premises. Studies in judgment and decision making have found that people’s probability judgments can fail to be coherent. We investigated people’s coherence further for judgments about conjunctions, disjunctions and conditionals, and asked whether their coherence would increase when they were given the explicit task of drawing inferences. Participants gave confidence judgments about a list of separate statements (the statements group) or the statements grouped as explicit inferences (the inferences group). Their responses were generally coherent at above chance levels for all the inferences investigated, regardless of the presence of an explicit inference task. An exception was that they were incoherent in the context known to cause the conjunction fallacy, and remained so even when they were given an explicit inference. The participants were coherent under the assumption that they interpreted the natural language conditional as it is represented in Bayesian accounts of conditional reasoning, but they were incoherent under the assumption that they interpreted the natural language conditional as the material conditional of elementary binary logic. Our results provide further support for the descriptive adequacy of Bayesian reasoning principles in the study of deduction under uncertainty.

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