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Mem Cognit. 2010 Oct;38(7):941-50. doi: 10.3758/MC.38.7.941.

Broadening the study of inductive reasoning: confirmation judgments with uncertain evidence.

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University of Trento, Trento, Italy.


Although evidence in real life is often uncertain, the psychology of inductive reasoning has, so far, been confined to certain evidence. The present study extends previous research by investigating whether people properly estimate the impact of uncertain evidence on a given hypothesis. Two experiments are reported, in which the uncertainty of evidence is explicitly (by means of numerical values) versus implicitly (by means of ambiguous pictures) manipulated. The results show that people's judgments are highly correlated with those predicted by normatively sound Bayesian measures of impact. This sensitivity to the degree of evidential uncertainty supports the centrality of inductive reasoning in cognition and opens the path to the study of this issue in more naturalistic settings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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