Conditional reasoning with vertical spatial relations

Abstract

The aim of this study was to explore the effect of semantic congruence and spatial orientation on verification time of modus ponens (MP) and modus tollens (MT) conclusions. Factorial experiment (2x2x2) with repeated measures was carried out. Conditionals expressed the vertical relation of two objects in congruent (If cellar is down, then attic is up) or incongruent manner (If attic is down, then cellar is up). Eight pairs of words with clear vertical relation were used. Order of vertical relations in the conditional was also manipulated. Conditionals were in the form of “If P down, then Q up”, or “If P up, then Q down”. Participants (N=48) had to verify the presented conclusions in 64 tasks as quickly as possible. Significant effects for valid MP conclusions were obtained. Conclusions containing “down-up” order of relations in conditional premise were processed faster. Congruent spatial relations also facilitated faster answers.


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