Why is logic so likeable? A single-process account of argument evaluation with logic and liking judgments

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Four experiments examined the claims that people can intuitively assess the logical validity of arguments, and that qualitatively different reasoning processes drive intuitive and explicit validity assessments. In each study participants evaluated arguments varying in validity and believability using either deductive criteria (logic task) or via an intuitive, affective response (liking task). Experiment 1 found that people are sensitive to argument validity on both tasks, with valid arguments receiving higher liking as well as higher deductive ratings than invalid arguments. However, the claim that this effect is driven by logical intuitions was challenged by the finding that sensitivity to validity in both liking and logic tasks was affected in similar ways by manipulations of concurrent memory load (Experiments 1 and 2) and variations in individual working memory capacity (Experiments 3 and 4). In both tasks better discrimination between valid and invalid arguments was found when more working memory resources were available. Formal signal detection models of reasoning were tested against the experimental data using signed difference analysis (Stephens, Dunn, & Hayes, 2018b). A single-process reasoning model which assumes that argument evaluation in both logic and liking tasks involves a single latent dimension for assessing argument strength but different response criteria for each task, was found to be consistent with the data from each experiment (as were some dual-process models). The experimental and modeling results confirm that people are sensitive to argument validity in both explicit logic and affect rating tasks, but that these results can be explained by a single underlying reasoning process. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)699-719
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of experimental psychology. Learning, memory, and cognition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


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