Unless Reasoning

By García-Madruga, Juan A.; Carriedo, Nuria et al. | The Spanish Journal of Psychology, July 1, 2008 | Go to article overview

Unless Reasoning


García-Madruga, Juan A., Carriedo, Nuria, Moreno-Ríos, Sergio, Gutiérrez, Francisco, Schaeken, Walter, The Spanish Journal of Psychology


We report the results of two experiments investigating conditional inferences from conditional unless assertions, such as Juan is not in León unless Nuria is in Madrid. Experiments 1 and 2 check Fillenbaum's hypothesis about the semantic similarity of unless with if not and only if assertions; both also examine inferential endorsements (Experiment 1) and endorsements and latencies (Experiment 2) of the four logically equivalent conditional formulations: if A then B, if not-B then not-A, A only if B and not- A unless B. The results of these experiments show the similarity of unless and only if, confirming that the representation of both conditionals from the outset probably include two possibilities directionally oriented from B to A; results also confirm the especial difficulty of unless assertions. The implications of the results are discussed in the context of recent psychological and linguistic theories of the meaning of unless.

Keywords: conditionals, propositional reasoning, mental models

Se presentan los resultados de dos experimentos que investigan las inferencias a partir de enunciados condicionales a menos que, tales como "Juan no está en León a menos que Nuria esté en Madrid". Los experimentos 1 y 2 comprueban la hipótesis de Fillenbaum sobre la similaridad semántica de los enunciados a menos que con si no y sólo si; ambos experimentos examinan las respuestas inferenciales (Experimento 1) y las respuestas inferenciales y las latencias (Experimento 2) de las cuatro formulaciones condicionales lógicamente equivalentes: si A entonces B, si no-B entonces no-A, A sólo si B y no-A a menos que B. Los resultados muestran la similaridad de a menos que y sólo si, confirmando que la representación de ambos condicionales probablemente incluya desde el principio dos posibilidades orientadas direccionalmente desde B a A; los resultados también confirman la dificultad especial de las afirmaciones del tipo a menos que. Las implicaciones de los resultados se comentan en el contexto de las teorías psicológicas y lingüísticas sobre el significado de a menos que.

Palabras clave: condicionales, razonamiento proposicional, modelos mentales

Our aim is to examine some linguistic and psychological hypotheses about the meaning of unless conditionals by using conditional inference tasks. First, we outline a mental model theory of conditional reasoning and consider the possibilities people keep in mind to understand if then and if not then conditionals; we suggest that they represent only one of the possibilities from the outset to understand if then and if not then. Second, we examine the possibilities they think about in understanding only if conditionals and suggest that they represent two of the possibilities from the outset to understand them. Third, we review linguistic and psychological theories and evidence regarding unless and consider the possibilities people think about to understand this connective. We report two experiments that compare unless with if then, if not then and only if.

During the last four decades a great deal of psychological research has been devoted to propositional reasoning, particularly to conditionals. The study of how people reason from conditional statements has become the main concern of research in deductive reasoning (see, Evans, Newstead, & Byrne, 1993). Four main theoretical approaches have been posited in propositional reasoning. Mental rules theories claim that the reasoning process is based on the application of formal rules of inference (e.g., Braine & O'Brien, 1998; Rips, 1994). There is also a view claiming that conditional reasoning is based on domain-specific rules of inference (e.g., Fiddick, Cosmides, & Tooby, 2000; Holyoak & Cheng, 1995). The third approach, mental model theories, maintains that reasoning processes rely on the ability to imagine possibilities (e.g., Johnson-Laird & Byrne, 1991; Johnson-Laird & Byrne, 2002; see also Evans, 1993).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Unless Reasoning
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.