In Lab News
The truth of conditionals
On 11, Sep 2018 | In Lab News | By Sunny
Geoff Goodwin and Phil Johnson-Laird describe new work on resolving a long-standing controversy about “conditional” assertions. You can read the paper here.
Here’s the abstract:
Given a basic conditional of the form, If A then C, individuals usually list three cases as possible: A and C, not-A and not-C, not-A and C. This result corroborates the theory of mental models. By contrast, individuals often judge that the conditional is true only in the case of A and C, and that cases of not-A are irrelevant to its truth or falsity. This result corroborates other theories of conditionals. To resolve the discrepancy, we devised two new tasks: the “collective” truth task, in which participants judged whether sets of assertions about a specific individual, such as: If A then C, not-A, C, could all be true at the same time; and one in which participants judged the truth of conditional predictions about specific future events. The results consistently matched the three possibilities, thereby corroborating the model theory. They also showed a massive violation of the probability calculus in estimates of the probabilities of the four cases in the partition of conditionals (A and C, A and not-C, not-A and C, and not-A and not-C), which summed to over 200%.