Belief bias is stronger when reasoning is more difficult

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Publication details

JournalThinking and Reasoning
DatePublished - 2014
Issue number3
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)385-403
Original languageEnglish


Three studies examine the influence of varying the difficulty of reasoning on the extent of belief bias, while minimising the possibility that the manipulation would influence the way participants approach the task. Specifically, reasoning difficulty was manipulated by making variations in problem content, while maintaining all other aspects of the problems constant. In Study 1, 191 participants were presented with consistent and conflict problems varying in two levels of difficulty. The results showed a significant influence of problem difficulty on the extent of the belief bias, such that the effect of belief was more pronounced for difficult problems. This effect was stronger in Study 2 (73 participants) where the difference in the difficulty of the problems was purposely accentuated. The results of both studies stress the importance of controlling for problem difficulty when studying belief bias. Study 3 examined one consequence of this, i.e., the classic belief vs. logic interaction could be eliminated by manipulating problem difficulty. Theoretical implications for dual-process accounts of belief bias are also discussed.

    Research areas

  • Analytic difficulty, Belief bias, Reasoning

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