ERIC Number: EJ796521
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jul
Reference Count: 0
When Can We Say "If"?
Evans, Jonathan St. B. T.; Neilens, Helen; Handley, Simon J.; Over, David E.
Cognition, v108 n1 p100-116 Jul 2008
In this study, we focus on the conditions which permit people to assert a conditional statement of the form "if p then q" with conversational relevance. In a broadly decision-theoretic approach, also drawing on hypothetical thinking theory [Evans, J. St. B. T. (2007). "Hypothetical thinking: Dual processes in reasoning and judgement". Hove, UK: Psychology Press.], we predicted that conditional tips and promises would appear more useful and persuasive and be more likely to encourage an action p when (a) the conditional link from p to q was stronger, (b) the cost of the action p was lower and (c) the benefit of the consequence q was higher. Similarly, we predicted that conditional warnings and threats would be seen as more useful and persuasive and more likely to discourage an action p when (a) the conditional link from p to q was stronger, (b) the benefit of the action p was lower and (c) the cost of the consequence q was higher. All predictions were strongly confirmed, suggesting that such conditionals may best be asserted when they are of high relevance to the goals of the listener. (Contains 7 tables.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
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