Inference with Mental Models

Phil N. Johnson-Laird

in The Oxford Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199734689
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Inference with Mental Models

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
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This chapter outlines the theory of mental models. The theory accounts for the deductive reasoning of individuals untrained in logic, and the chapter marshals corroboratory evidence. It goes on to describe how the theory applies to reasoning about probabilities based on the alternative possibilities in which an event occurs (“extensional” reasoning). It also outlines the theory's application to inductions, including those that depend on the intuitive system of reasoning (System 1) and those that depend on deliberation (System 2). Inductions include the automatic use of knowledge to modulate the interpretation of assertions. Models appear to underlie both the detection of inconsistencies among propositions and abductions that create explanations, including those that resolve inconsistencies. The model theory is supposed to apply to all thinking about propositions, and the chapter concludes with some of the main gaps in its account.

Keywords: abduction; causation; deduction; induction; inconsistency; mental models; reasoning

Article.  14718 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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