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Working Memory Capacity and Thinking Disposition as Predictors of the use of Heuristic or Analytic Processing in Syllogistic Reasoning

Working Memory Capacity and Thinking Disposition as Predictors of the use of Heuristic or Analytic Processing in Syllogistic Reasoning

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Published by Charlotte Kinloch
My university dissertation:
Abstract: The notion that human beings have the capacity for two different modes of thought, an effortless, intuitive, heuristic mode and an effortful, logical, analytic mode, is a profound one which goes to the very nature of our consciousness. This study uses the belief bias effect in syllogistic reasoning to determine the relationship between two individual differences; working memory capacity and need for cognition, and the propensity to use one or the other system of thought. A correlational design was used. An opportunity sample of 115 participants took part in the study which consisted of a pencil and paper syllogistic reasoning task and a short form of the need for cognition scale (Cacioppo, Petty, & Feng Kao, 1984), and an online operation span (OSPAN) task (Krantz, 2008). It was found that both need for cognition and working memory correlated positively with the ability to avoid belief bias errors. When confined to a model the amount that each predicted the ability to avoid belief bias was additive, the model explaining 30% of the variance in belief inhibition. Findings are explained in terms of dual-processing theory; those with greater need for cognition are more inclined to use the analytic processing as they take greater enjoyment from it, those with a larger working memory capacity are as likely to use analytic or heuristic processing as those with a smaller working memory capacity but have more effective analytic and heuristic systems. As an aside to this, participants degree of certainty to items on the syllogistic reasoning task were analysed as an indication of participants ability to detect conflict between logic and belief, although a significant result was found, possible methodological issues limited the interpretation of this part of the study.
My university dissertation:
Abstract: The notion that human beings have the capacity for two different modes of thought, an effortless, intuitive, heuristic mode and an effortful, logical, analytic mode, is a profound one which goes to the very nature of our consciousness. This study uses the belief bias effect in syllogistic reasoning to determine the relationship between two individual differences; working memory capacity and need for cognition, and the propensity to use one or the other system of thought. A correlational design was used. An opportunity sample of 115 participants took part in the study which consisted of a pencil and paper syllogistic reasoning task and a short form of the need for cognition scale (Cacioppo, Petty, & Feng Kao, 1984), and an online operation span (OSPAN) task (Krantz, 2008). It was found that both need for cognition and working memory correlated positively with the ability to avoid belief bias errors. When confined to a model the amount that each predicted the ability to avoid belief bias was additive, the model explaining 30% of the variance in belief inhibition. Findings are explained in terms of dual-processing theory; those with greater need for cognition are more inclined to use the analytic processing as they take greater enjoyment from it, those with a larger working memory capacity are as likely to use analytic or heuristic processing as those with a smaller working memory capacity but have more effective analytic and heuristic systems. As an aside to this, participants degree of certainty to items on the syllogistic reasoning task were analysed as an indication of participants ability to detect conflict between logic and belief, although a significant result was found, possible methodological issues limited the interpretation of this part of the study.

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: Charlotte Kinloch on Mar 26, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/17/2011

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Table 4 shows the descriptive statistics for participants who completed all parts of the study.

Table 4: Descriptive Statistics for Belief-Inhibition and WMC for Participants Completing all Parts of the Study

Number

Mean

Std.
Deviation

Belief-Inhibition Score

83

.64

.23

Non-Conflict Score

83

.86

.14

Working

Memory

Capacity

83

.57

.23

Sequential linear regression was done with working memory as the dependant variable, non-conflict score was added first to the
model then belief-inhibition score was added second. A partial correlation was also done controlling for non-conflict score. The
results of these analyses can be found in table 5 below

Table 5: Correlations among Belief-Inhibition and Non-conflict Syllogisms and Working Memory Capacity

Belief-Inhibition
Score

Non-Conflict Score

Working Memory
Capacity

Belief-Inhibition Score

-

.07

.39**

Non-Conflict Score

.07

-

.35*

Working Memory
Capacity

.37**

.33*

-

*Significant at the 0.001% level ** Significant at the .0005% level ¹Numbers above the diagonal are zero order 2

Numbers below the diagonal are partial

correlations

A moderate positive correlation was found between Belief-Inhibition and Working Memory Capacity (r = .39) which was highly
significant (p = < .0005, one tailed), a moderate positive correlation remained after non-conflict score was controlled for (r = .37, p =
> .0005) adjusted r2

= .14, so 14% of the variation in Belief-Inhibition can be explained by Working Memory Capacity. A significant,
moderate positive correlation was also found between working memory capacity and non-conflict score (r = .35, p = > .001, partial r =
.33, p = > .001). The adjusted r2

= .12 so 12% of the variance in general ability at syllogistic reasoning can be explained by working

memory.

So to summarise, both belief-inhibition and general ability at syllogistic reasoning correlated moderately with working memory
capacity. As before, it was found in this smaller sample that general ability at syllogistic reasoning did not correlate significantly with
ability to inhibit belief in syllogistic reasoning.

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