Efficiency in data gathering: Set size effects in the selection task

  • Nickerson R
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Two experiments were conducted with variants of Wason�s (1966) selection

task. The common focus was the effect of differences in the sizes
of the sets

represented by P and not-Q in assertions of the form If P then Q (conditional)

or All P are Q (categorical). Results support the conclusion that
such set size

differences affect the strategies people adopt when asked to determine,

efficiently, the truth or falsity of such assertions, but they do
not entirely

negate the tendency to select the term represented by P (the antecedent
of the

conditional or the subject of the categorical) in preference to the

represented by not-Q (the complement of the consequent of the conditional

the complement of the predicate of the categorical). Several possible

explanations of this perseverance are considered. Results also support

conclusion that people find it easier to assess categorical assertions

logically equivalent conditional assertions.

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  • R S Nickerson

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