Generating alternatives: A key component in human reasoning?

Stephen E. Newstead, Valerie A. Thompson, Simon J. Handley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


According to mental models theory, a key aspect of deductive reasoning is the production of alternative models that can falsify provisional conclusions. In the present paper, the possibility is investigated that there are individual differences in the ability to produce alternative models. The results indicate that some people do not proceed beyond the first model when they reason with syllogisms but that others do. Furthermore, the ability to generate alternatives can be independently measured by asking participants to generate different representations of pairs of premises. These findings support the predictions of mental models theory and also indicate the potential importance of alternatives generation as a measure of individual differences in processing style.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-137
Number of pages9
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


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