New paper in T&R about the abstract representation of conditionals

Henry Markovits, Pier-Luc de Chantal, and Janie Brisson of UQAM recently published a paper in Thinking & Reasoning about the abstract mental representation of basic conditionals. Their abstract is here:

Studies examining the interpretation that is given to if–then statementstypically use what are referred to as basic conditionals, which give contextless relations between two unrelated concrete terms (If the ball is blue, then the shape is square). However, there is some evidence that basic conditionals require a more abstract form of representation. In order to examine this, we presented participants with truth-table tasks involving either basic conditionals or conditionals referring to imaginary categories (If it is a bori, then it has red wings), and standard conditional inference tasks with abstract and familiar premises. As expected, fewer typical defective conditional interpretations were given to basic conditionals. In addition, partial correlations showed a unique relationship between the interpretation of basic conditionals and abstract inferential reasoning. Results suggest that people process basic conditionals as a form of abstract reasoning, and that the interpretation of conditionals must consider the semantic context.

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