Are there two processes in reasoning? The dimensionality of inductive and deductive inferences

Rachel G. Stephens, John C. Dunn, Brett K. Hayes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Single-process accounts of reasoning propose that the same cognitive mechanisms underlie inductive and deductive inferences. In contrast, dual-process accounts propose that these inferences depend upon 2 qualitatively different mechanisms. To distinguish between these accounts, we derived a set of single-process and dual-process models based on an overarching signal detection framework. We then used signed difference analysis to test each model against data from an argument evaluation task, in which induction and deduction judgments are elicited for sets of valid and invalid arguments. Three data sets were analyzed: data from Singmann and Klauer (2011), a database of argument evaluation studies, and the results of an experiment designed to test model predictions. Of the large set of testable models, we found that almost all could be rejected, including all 2-dimensional models. The only testable model able to account for all 3 data sets was a model with 1 dimension of argument strength and independent decision criteria for induction and deduction judgments. We conclude that despite the popularity of dual-process accounts, current results from the argument evaluation task are best explained by a single-process account that incorporates separate decision thresholds for inductive and deductive inferences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-244
Number of pages27
JournalPsychological Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


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