Effects of training and instruction on analytic and belief-based reasoning processes

Helen L. Neilens, Simon J. Handley, Stephen E. Newstead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Two studies are reported which demonstrate that analytic responding on everyday reasoning problems can be increased and bias eliminated after training on the law of large numbers (Fong, Krantz, Nisbett, 1986). Critical thinking problems involving belief-consistent, neutral, and inconsistent conclusions were presented. Belief bias was eliminated when a written justification of argument strength was elicited. However, belief-based responding was still evident when evaluations of the arguments were elicited using rating scales. This finding demonstrates a dissociation between analytic and belief-based responding as a function of response format. In Experiment 2 an instructional condition designed to foster decontextualised reasoning was included but was ineffective in reducing the degree to which judgements were biased by beliefs. It was concluded that training which makes available the analytic strategies necessary to evaluate a problem has the potential to facilitate performance only if the requested response triggers conscious deliberation of the evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-68
Number of pages32
JournalThinking and Reasoning
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes


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