Reasoning strategies for suppositional deductions

Ruth M J Byrne*, Simon J. Handley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Deductive reasoning shares with other forms of thinking a reliance on strategies, as shown by the results of three experiments on the nature and development of control strategies to solve suppositional deductions. These puzzles are based on assertors who may or may not be telling the truth, and their assertions about their status as truthtellers and liars. The first experiment shows that reasoners make backward inferences as well as forward inferences, to short-cut their way through the alternatives, and the generation of suppositions is a source of difficulty. The second experiment establishes that the elimination of the suppositional status of an individual does not render problems easier. The third experiment shows that reasoners can improve their reasoning accuracy and speed spontaneously, without feedback, and it clarifies the transfer of strategies and their development. We discuss the implications of these data for alternative theories of suppositional deduction and for the relationship between reasoning and other forms of thinking such as problem solving.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-49
Number of pages49
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 1997
Externally publishedYes


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