Uncontrolled logic: intuitive sensitivity to logical structure in random responding

Stephanie Howarth*, Simon Handley*, Vince Polito

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


It is well established that beliefs provide powerful cues that influence reasoning. Over the last decade research has revealed that judgments based upon logical structure may also pre-empt deliberative reasoning. Evidence for ‘intuitive logic’ has been claimed using a range of measures (i.e. confidence ratings or latency of response on conflict problems). However, it is unclear how well such measures genuinely reflect logical intuition. In this paper we introduce a new method designed to test for evidence of intuitive logic. In two experiments participants were asked to make random judgments about the logical validity of a series of simple and complex syllogistic arguments. For simple arguments there was an effect of logical validity on random responding, which was absent for complex arguments. These findings provide a novel demonstration that people are intuitively sensitive to logical structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-96
Number of pages36
JournalThinking and Reasoning
Issue number1
Early online date22 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • reasoning
  • intuitive logic
  • dual process theory
  • syllogistic reasoning
  • random responding


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