# Descriptive Approach Pragmatic Reasoning Schemas (Cheng & Holyoak)

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Descriptive Approach Pragmatic Reasoning Schemas (Cheng & Holyoak)
Explanation of how realistic content (i.e., deontic content) facilitates critical thinking “schemas” – memories “pragmatic” = practical We have memories for reasoning in practical situations

Schemas (i.e., memories) P1: if the action is to be taken, then the precondition must be satisfied. P2: if the action is not to be taken, then the precondition need not be satisfied. P3: if the precondition is satisfied, then the action may be taken. P4: if the precondition is not satisfied, then the action must not be taken.

P1 If the action is to be taken, then the precondition must be satisfied. Everyday examples: drinking alcohol, you have to be 21 to do so Drinking alcohol (action to be taken) Being 21 (precondition)

P4 If the precondition is not satisfied, then the action must not be taken. E.g., If you’re not 21, then you can’t drink alcohol If you’re not 21, then you can’t gamble If you’re not a female, then you can’t use the female restroom

P1-P4 apply to everyday situations
In everyday situations, our minds automatically, unconsciously applies the appropriate rules In abstract situations, the rules are not relevant, and don’t apply Expect about 10% of the population to get the right answer on the Wason selection task

Realistic Task BEER WATER 16 22
LAW: You have to be 21 or older to drink alcohol P1 applies to BEER card (action of drinking alcohol)  therefore investigate age of BEER drinker (i.e., turn over that card)

(cont.) P4 applies to the 16 card (being 21 or over is the precondition)  turn over card to see that they are NOT drinking alcohol (action that must not be taken) We get the right answer by using the pragmatic reasoning schemas

Application of pragmatic reasoning schemas
Apply to any real-life situation or paper-and-pencil that involves actions and preconditions

Social Exchange Theory
Competing theory to explain why people do better with realistic or deontic content Cosmides, 1989 Evolutionary theory  evolution results in some critical thinking skills being highly developed and others not Good at social exchanges: If you take a benefit, then you pay a cost.

More on social exchange theory
If you get a benefit without a cost  you’re cheating We are naturally (without training) good at finding cheaters Also good at noticing the requirements for getting a benefit Situations in life involving costs, benefits, cheaters, or requirements, are situations in which we are naturally good at critical thinking

Social contracts Situations involving two or more people where there is some agreement about requirements, costs, and benefits People are naturally good critical thinkers in these situations In BEER-WATER example, the social contract is the law (specifically, the law with respect to drinking age)

Abstract situations Abstract situations (e.g., EK47 problem) do not involve social contracts Therefore, we are not naturally good at thinking in these situations

Heuristic/Analytic Theory
Evans, 1989 Do critical thinking in two steps First step = heuristic part (“heuristic” = rule-of-thumb, not guaranteed to work, only a guide) Second step = analytic part

Heuristics People look at a critical thinking problem
Pick out parts of the problem that seem relevant to the solution Use heuristics to decide what parts of a problem are relevant to a solution Occurs quickly and unconsciously

Application of heuristic/analytic theory
Example, EK47 problem Rule is: if a card has a vowel on one side, then it has an even number on the other Use heuristic of matching = pick out parts of the problem that match each other E.g., start with E and “vowel” + 4 and “even number”

Analytical part Apply logical rules that we know to the results of the heuristic part People make mistakes because they used a heuristic (not a guaranteed correct answer) to determine what parts of the problem to analyze

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