Chapter

How We can Improve our Reasoning

Philip N. Johnson-Laird

in How We Reason

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199551330
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191701580 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199551330.003.0020
How We can Improve our Reasoning

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This chapter addresses how one can enhance their reasoning skills. Methods aiming to improve reasoning are as numerous as diets, and perhaps no more effective. The best hope is to ask: Does any robust evidence show that the regimen works? If not, we're not bound to commit it to flames, but one should think twice before investing in it. Reasoning can be improved by requiring a more capacious working memory and perhaps faster mental processes. It also needs to improve the understanding of premises, the ability to think of all the possibilities compatible with them, the power to formulate conclusions capturing what is common to these possibilities, and the skill in finding counterexamples to conclusions. Above all, it is important to have more imagination in envisaging what is possible. The experimental studies show that the model method, though it takes only a few minutes to teach, has robust effects on both the accuracy and speed of reasoning.

Keywords: reasoning; working memory; skill; possibility; thinking; imagination

Chapter.  4949 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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