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Reading: Counterfactual Reasoning: resolving inconsistency before your eyes

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Research Article

Counterfactual Reasoning: resolving inconsistency before your eyes

Authors:

Russell Revlin ,

University of California, US
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Dustin P Calvillo,

University of California, BE
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Stephanie Ballard

University of California, BE
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Abstract

Belief revision has invariably been studied with abstract relationships using paper-and-pencil tasks. The present study asks whether people employ the same procedures in revising their beliefs when they concern concrete situations rather than arbitrary, abstract ones. Students listened to a narrative and then verified that selected statements from it were true and consistent. They then needed to revise their beliefs as a result of confronting a belief-contravening assumption that they had to accept as true even though it was false of the narrative. There are two main findings. First, when the artificial beliefs were part of an integrated, narrative structure, participants treated them as they do natural semantic categories and not as arbitrary relations. Second, when reasoning about concrete situations in front of them, reasoners readily changed the properties of the objects in order to retain the belief structure of the narrative. This suggests that college students act as if they were Platonists who view the observable world as fallible reflections of the idealized world.
How to Cite: Revlin, R., Calvillo, D.P. & Ballard, S., (2005). Counterfactual Reasoning: resolving inconsistency before your eyes. Psychologica Belgica. 45(1), pp.47–56. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/pb-45-1-47
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Published on 01 Mar 2005.
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