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Mem Cognit. 1989 Mar;17(2):221-32.

Sensible reasoning in two tasks: rule discovery and hypothesis evaluation.


The hypothesis testing skills of undergraduates were measured in two tasks: the 2-4-6 rule discovery task in which students generate and assess hypotheses, and a hypothesis evaluation task, which requires only the assessment of hypotheses. The results of Experiments 1 and 2 show that the students consistently employed a disconfirmation strategy when assessing hypotheses, but employed a counterfactual inference strategy when they also were required to generate the hypotheses. The results of Experiment 3 suggest that the selection of the hypothesis testing strategy reflected a balance between the logical requirements of the task and the desirability of possible outcomes. Taken together, the findings support a more consistent picture of human rationality across tasks, and suggest alternatives to accounts of confirmation bias.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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