Logic feels so good-I like it! evidence for intuitive detection of logicality in syllogistic reasoning

Kinga Morsanyi*, Simon J. Handley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)


When people evaluate syllogisms, their judgments of validity are often biased by the believability of the conclusions of the problems. Thus, it has been suggested that syllogistic reasoning performance is based on an interplay between a conscious and effortful evaluation of logicality and an intuitive appreciation of the believability of the conclusions (e.g., Evans, Newstead, Allen, & Pollard, 1994). However, logic effects in syllogistic reasoning emerge even when participants are unlikely to carry out a full logical analysis of the problems (e.g., Shynkaruk & Thompson, 2006). There is also evidence that people can implicitly detect the conflict between their beliefs and the validity of the problems, even if they are unable to consciously produce a logical response (e.g., De Neys, Moyens, & Vansteenwegen, 2010). In 4 experiments we demonstrate that people intuitively detect the logicality of syllogisms, and this effect emerges independently of participants' conscious mindset and their cognitive capacity. This logic effect is also unrelated to the superficial structure of the problems. Additionally, we provide evidence that the logicality of the syllogisms is detected through slight changes in participants' affective states. In fact, subliminal affective priming had an effect on participants' subjective evaluations of the problems. Finally, when participants misattributed their emotional reactions to background music, this significantly reduced the logic effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)596-616
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


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