Ball, Linden and Quayle, Jeremy D.
Phonological and visual distinctiveness effects in syllogistic reasoning: Implications for mental models theory.
Memory & Cognition, 37
Two experiments are reported in which the representational distinctiveness of terms within categorical syllogisms was manipulated in order to examine the assumption of mental models theory that abstract, spatially based representations underpin deduction. In Experiment 1, participants evaluated conclusion validity for syllogisms containing either phonologically distinctive terms (e.g., harks, paps, and fids) or phonologically nondistinctive terms (e.g., fuds, fods, and feds). Logical performance was enhanced with the distinctive contents, suggesting that the phonological properties of syllogism terms can play an important role in deduction. In Experiment 2, participants received either the phonological materials from Experiment 1 or syllogisms involving distinctive or nondistinctive visual contents. Logical inference was again enhanced for the distinctive contents, whether phonological or visual in nature. Our findings suggest a broad involvement of multimodal information in syllogistic reasoning and question the assumed primacy of abstract, spatially organized representations in deduction, as is claimed by mental models theorists.