Analogy and Relational Reasoning

Keith J. Holyoak

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

 Analogy and Relational Reasoning

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
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Analogy is an inductive mechanism based on structured comparisons of mental representations. It is an important special case of role-based relational reasoning, in which inferences are generated on the basis of patterns of relational roles. Analogical reasoning is a complex process involving retrieval of structured knowledge from long-term memory, representing and manipulating role-filler bindings in working memory, identifying elements that play corresponding roles, generating new inferences, and learning abstract schemas. For empirical analogies, analogical inference is guided by causal knowledge about how the source analog operates. Simpler types of relation-based transfer can be produced by relational priming. Human analogical reasoning is heavily dependent on working memory and other executive functions supported by the prefrontal cortex, with the frontopolar subregion being selectively activated when multiple relations must be integrated to solve a problem.

Keywords: analogy; role-based relational reasoning; iq; metaphor; induction; neuroimaging; frontal cortex; symbolic connectionism; mapping; retrieval; inference; schemas; system 1; system 2; causal models; relational priming; cognitive development

Article.  18509 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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