Iffy beliefs: Conditional thinking and belief change

Constantinos Hadjichristidis*, Simon J. Handley, Steven A. Sloman, Jonathan St B T Evans, David E. Over, Rosemary J. Stevenson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The ability to entertain possibilities and draw inferences about them is essential to human intelligence. We examine the hypothesis that conditional if-then statements trigger a mental simulation process in which people suppose the antecedent (if statement) to be true and evaluate the consequent (then statement) in that context. On the assumption that supposing an event to be true increases belief that the event has occurred or will occur, this hypothesis is consistent with the claim that evaluating a conditional will heighten belief in its antecedent more than in its consequent. Two experiments, employing conditionals of the form If animal A has property X, then animal B will have property X, in which X was a property that people could not readily relate to the animals, supported this claim. The effect was stronger following the evaluation of conditionals with dissimilar animal categories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2052-2059
Number of pages8
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes


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