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Title: Mental representations underlying syllogistic reasoning
Author: Ardin, Catherine Lucie
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1993
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This thesis uses the data from two experiments to investigate the mental representations underlying syllogistic reasoning. The first takes the standard syllogisms task but adds a recall component, the second consists of an entirely new syllogistic reasoning paradigm: seeking valid individuals. The main effects found centre on the explanation for the figural effect and the status of agglomerated representations as an explanation for responses to syllogisms. Subjects who do not use an agglomerated representation show a figural effect - this throws doubt on explanations of this phenomenon based on the transitive arrangement of an agglomerated representation. Analysis reveals that subjects seem to interpret the syllogism at a linguistic level initially and derive a likely topic for the argument of the syllogism. The representation must also include information about the potential of the syllogism to 'cancel' the middle term. If the syllogism does not cancel, then this will either cause effects similar to those found for indeterminate texts or with the individuals task help subjects to determine whether syllogisms possess a valid conclusion or not. Strong order effects for positive and negative information are found in both experiments and this preference also has an effect on the reasoning data, similar to the figural effect. The information in the syllogism must therefore be reordered before a conclusion is given, to satisfy this preference. Many subjects to appear to use an agglomerated representation plus cycles of testing to solve syllogisms, but the representation they use must contain linguistic information about topic, and will be reordered to that positive information precedes negative. Agglomerated representations are probably equivalent at the level of coding common to all subjects, the differences apparent to introspection will depend on the particular instantiation chosen by the subject.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available