• Two types of reasoning:
    • Deductive reasoning – reasoning from a general principle to a specific case
      • Basis of formal mathematics and logic
      • Viewed as stronger and more valid reasoning because conclusion cannot be false if premises are true
      • Syllogism: If all humans are mortal (first premise), and Socrates is a human (second premise), then Socrates must be mortal (conclusion)
    • Inductive reasoning – reasoning from specific facts to develop a general principle
      • Leads to likelihood rather than certainty
      • New observations may disprove conclusion
  • Stumbling Blocks in Reasoning
    • Distraction by irrelevant information – people take into account irrelevant information that leads them astray
    • Failure to apply deductive rules – people think of problem solving methods as to be used only in certain situations and cannot apply to new problems
    • Belief bias – tendency to abandon logical rules in favour of personal beliefs
      • Students claimed conclusion was not correct to following syllogism: All things that are smoked are good for one’s health, cigarettes are smoked, therefore cigarettes are good for one’s health

Problem Solving

  • Four stages of problem solving:
    • Understanding, or framing, the problem – problem must be framed optimally to have chance of generating an effective solution
    • Generating potential solutions – must determine which procedures and explanations will be considered, and which solutions are consistent with evidencb
    • or procedures that automatically generate correct solutions
    • Heuristics – general problem solving strategies that are applied to certain classes of situations
      • Means end analysis – identify differences between present situation and one’s desired state/goal and make changes to reduce differences
      • Subgoal analysis – people can attack a large problem by formulating subgoals or intermediate steps toward a solution
  • Uncertainty, heuristics, and decision making
    • Representativeness heuristic – rule of thumb in estimating probability that an object or event belongs to a certain category based on extent to which it represents a prototype of the category
      • Tversky and Kahneman note that people confused representativeness with probability
    • Availability heuristic – rule of thumb used to make likelihood judgments based on how easily examples of that category of events come to mind or are available in memory
      • Example: people were less likely to book flights following September 11th, since the memory of the event is readily accessible
  • Confirmation bias – people tend to look for evidence that will confirm what they currently believe rather than look for evidence that could disconfirm their beliefs
  • Sternberg and Davidson found that correct solutions to insight problems involve:
    • Selective encoding – choosing what information matters
    • Selective combination – choosing what’s important within chosen information
    • Selective comparison – out of chosen information, how does it apply to the problem
author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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