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Research Paper

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This study examined the effect of response format on the conclusions drawn in a categorical reasoning task. In Experiment 1, participants were required to respond in either a multiple-choice format or were required to produce their own conclusion (without any choices presented). In the multiple-choice task, people responded with a wider variety of conclusions, more No Valid Conclusion responses, and had a smaller forward bias. In terms of theoretical predictions, Mental Model Theory was better supported in the multiple-choice condition and more conclusions corresponded with initial models in the production task while more conclusions corresponded with alternative models in the multiple-choice condition. The predictions made by the Probabilistic Heuristic Model were not affected by the conditions; however more min conclusions were found in the production task than the multiple-choice condition, and there was an increase in the p-entailment heuristic for the production task. Experiment 2, which included a persistent reminder about No Valid Conclusions in the production task, showed that No Valid Conclusions increased greatly for the production task and there was no longer a difference in forward bias. Also, neither theory showed any cross condition differences now.


Categorical syllogisms; Cognition; Conclusions; Heuristic; Heuristics; Mental models; Multiple-choice examinations ; Production task; Reasoning; Response format; Syllogism; Task analysis; Thesis


Cognitive Psychology


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