Graphical representation fosters discovery in the 2-4-6 task.
ABSTRACT In the 2-4-6 rule discovery task, reasoners seek to discover a rule that governs the arrangement of three numbers (or triple). The to-be-discovered rule is "ascending numbers". Upon being given the triple 2-4-6 as an initial example, however, reasoners tend to formulate algebraically specific hypotheses. Traditionally, this task is conducted primarily from an internal representation of the triples and candidate hypotheses. More recently, substantial representational effects have been demonstrated wherein an external representation of the dimensions of the problem space facilitated successful rule discovery. In the two experiments reported here, an interactive graphical representation was created by concurrently plotting each triple produced by the participants. In Experiment 1, participants who performed the task with this external representation were more likely to discover the rule than were a group of control participants. Experiment 2 replicated the effect but also assessed participants' hypotheses for each triple generated. Results indicated that a graphical representation of the triples fostered the development of hypotheses that were less constrained by the implied algebraic specificity of the initial triple.
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ABSTRACT: The Wason 2-4-6 task was embedded in a practical reasoning scenario where number sequences had well defined utilities in the process of achieving a goal. Reasoners' hypothesis-testing behaviour was clearly goal-driven and was significantly influenced by whether the utilities favoured positive or negative sequences. In the version of the scenario where generating positive sequences had greater benefits than generating negative ones, participants performed poorly at the task as measured by their ability to guess the correct rule and by the nature and number of triples tested before making an announcement. In contrast, the scenario that assigned a greater utility to the production of negative sequences fostered significantly more diligent and creative hypothesis testing behaviour, and participants were significantly more likely to discover the rule. These results suggest that the poor performance observed in Wason's traditional 2-4-6 task reflects a hypothesis-testing process that by default assigns greater epistemic utility to the production of sequences that conform to the initial triple, and hence receive positive feedback. However, reasoners are not averse to producing negative sequences, and understand their implication, if their epistemic utility is made relevant in the process of achieving goals.
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ABSTRACT: Wason's standard 2-4-6 task requires discovery of a single rule and leads to around 20% solutions, whereas the dual goal (DG) version requires discovery of two rules and elevates solutions to over 60%. We report an experiment that aimed to discriminate between competing accounts of DG facilitation by manipulating the degree of complementarity between the to-be-discovered rules. Results indicated that perfect rule complementarity is not essential for task success, thereby undermining a key tenet of the goal complementarity account of DG facilitation. The triple heterogeneity account received a good degree of support since more varied triple exploration was associated with facilitatory DG conditions, in line with this account's prediction that task success is associated with the creative search of the problem space. The contrast class account (an extension of Oaksford & Chater's, 1994, iterative counterfactual model) was also corroborated in that the generation of descending triples was demonstrated to be the dominant predictor of DG success. We focus our discussion on conceptual ideas relating to the way in which iterative counterfactual testing and contrast class identification may work together to provide a powerful basis for effective hypothesis testing.Thinking and Reasoning 08/2009; 15(3):294-315. DOI:10.1080/13546780903040666 · 1.12 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Previous research has found no consistent relationship between measures of disconfirmatory evidence, alternative hypotheses, and people's success in rule-discovery tasks. The present paper explores falsification's inductive benefit under the “context of discovery” in Wason's 2‐4‐6 task by developing a new type of alternative hypothesis, which we label the “new-perspective hypothesis”. Experiment 1 found that falsification is effective only when a new-perspective hypothesis is generated, rather than a same-perspective hypothesis. The total number of alternative hypotheses was also unrelated to rule-discovery success. Experiment 2 replicated Experiment 1 but included the addition of a different name-content task as well as two levels of task difficulty. The main findings were similar to those for Experiment 1, and the new-perspective hypothesis was observed to be most important for the difficult rule-discovery task. These results help to clarify the important ways new-perspective hypotheses and disconfirmatory evidence contribute to successful rule-discovery performance.Thinking and Reasoning 05/2011; 17(2):105-136. DOI:10.1080/13546783.2011.553466 · 1.12 Impact Factor