Deductive reasoning and mental models (2003 - 2006)

Project Leader:

Ana Cristina Quelhas


Project's Summary:

This project is within the research area of deductive reasoning, and mainly based on mental models theory (Johnson-Laird, 1983, Johnson-Laird & amp; Byrne, 1991), were the principal investigator has several works (cf. in the state of the art). Three main objectives can be described. One is to study the relationship between the working memory capacity and the performance on deductive tasks. With categorical syllogisms of different levels of difficulty (requiring a different number of mental models), it is expected a better performance on participants with a large working memory capacity. Working memory is to be measured through 3 different tasks, as the ones used by Garcia-Madruga et col. A second objective, within the domain of semantic and pragmatic modulation in reasoning, and mental models, is to try to find out witch are the initial mental models, in the different sets of models that belong to different interpretations of conditional sentences. Following a recent methodology of priming (e.g. Espino, Santamaría, & amp; Byrne, submited), used to compare factual and counterfactual conditionals, we intend to adapt this to discuss the initial models in four different conditional interpretations.Finally, we intend to go on with other studies in this domain, that should be design in light of the results in these first experiments.


Project’s aims:

1. Study the relation between reasoning and working memory. Using three tasks to evaluate working memory: reading span test, and problems with anaphors and analogies, we intend to see the correlation between these different measures, and between the capacity of working memory and performance of participants in a deductive task with categorical syllogisms.

2. Assess semantic modulation through tasks of priming, i.e., the facilitation paradigm in reading possibilities (models of states of affairs). It is expected to have different initial models, depending on different conditional sentences interpretation. Those sentences should prime some possibilities more easily (rapidly) then others.3 - develop other studies in the domain of semantic and pragmatic modulation in reasoning, depending mainly of results on the second objective.

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