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ERIC Number: EJ849440
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jan
Pages: 8
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 40
ISSN: ISSN-1363-755X
Logic and Belief across the Lifespan: The Rise and Fall of Belief Inhibition during Syllogistic Reasoning
De Neys, Wim; Van Gelder, Elke
Developmental Science, v12 n1 p123-130 Jan 2009
Popular reasoning theories postulate that the ability to inhibit inappropriate beliefs lies at the heart of the human reasoning engine. Given that people's inhibitory capacities are known to rise and fall across the lifespan, we predicted that people's deductive reasoning performance would show similar curvilinear age trends. A group of children (12-year-olds), young adults (20-year-olds), and older adults (65+-year-olds) were presented with a classic syllogistic reasoning task and a decision-making questionnaire. Results indicated that on syllogisms where beliefs and logic conflicted, reasoning performance showed the expected curvilinear age trend: Reasoning performance initially increased from childhood to early adulthood but declined again in later life. On syllogisms where beliefs and logic were consistent and sound reasoning did not require belief inhibition, however, age did not affect performance. Furthermore, across the lifespan we observed that the better people were at resisting intuitive temptations in the decision-making task, the less they were biased by their beliefs on the conflict syllogisms. As with the effect of age, one's ability to override intuitions in the decision-making task did not mediate reasoning performance on the no-conflict syllogisms. Results lend credence to the postulated central role of inhibitory processing in those situations where beliefs and logic conflict.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Adult Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A