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Conditional reasoning with false premises facilitates the transition between familiar and abstract reasoning

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Publication details

JournalChild Development
DatePublished - 18 Mar 2011
Issue number2
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)646-60
Original languageEnglish


Abstract reasoning is critical for science and mathematics, but is very difficult. In 3 studies, the hypothesis that alternatives generation required for conditional reasoning with false premises facilitates abstract reasoning is examined. Study 1 (n = 372) found that reasoning with false premises improved abstract reasoning in 12- to 15-year-olds. Study 2 (n = 366) found a positive effect of simply generating alternatives, but only in 19-year-olds. Study 3 (n = 92) found that 9- to 11-year-olds were able to respond logically with false premises, whereas no such ability was observed in 6- to 7-year-olds. Reasoning with false premises was found to improve reasoning with semiabstract premises in the older children. These results support the idea that alternatives generation with false premises facilitates abstract reasoning.

    Research areas

  • Adolescent, Age Factors, Child, Child Development, Concept Formation, Female, Humans, Logic, Male, Neuropsychological Tests, Problem Solving, Psychology, Child, Semantics, Verbal Learning, Young Adult

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