Reasoning and dyslexia: A spatial strategy may impede reasoning with visually rich information

Alison M. Bacon*, Simon J. Handley, Emma L. McDonald

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Bacon, Handley, and Newstead (2003, 2004) have presented evidence for individual differences in reasoning strategies, with most people seeming to represent and manipulate problem information using either a verbal or a spatial strategy. There is also evidence that individuals with dyslexia are inclined to conceptualise information in a visuo-spatial, rather than a verbal, way (e.g. von Károlyi et al., 2003). If so, we might expect a higher proportion of individuals with dyslexia to be spatial reasoners, compared with individuals who do not have dyslexia. The study reported here directly compared strategies reported by these two groups of participants on a syllogistic reasoning task. Moreover, problem content was manipulated so that reasoning across concrete and abstract materials could be compared. The findings suggest that whilst most individuals without dyslexia use a verbal strategy, reasoners with dyslexia do tend to adopt a spatial approach, though their performance is impaired with visually concrete materials. However, when reasoning with more abstract content, they perform comparably with non-dyslexic controls. The paper discusses these results in the light of recent research which has suggested that visual images may impede reasoning, and considers how individuals with dyslexia may differ from other reasoners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-92
Number of pages14
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes


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