Response demands and the recruitment of heuristic strategies in syllogistic reasoning

Carlo Reverberi, Patrice Rusconi, Eraldo Paulesu, Paolo Cherubini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two experiments investigated whether dealing with a homogeneous subset of syllogisms with time-constrained responses encouraged participants to develop and use heuristics for abstract (Experiment 1) and thematic (Experiment 2) syllogisms. An atmosphere-based heuristic accounted for most responses with both abstract and thematic syllogisms. With thematic syllogisms, a weaker effect of a belief heuristic was also observed, mainly where the correct response was inconsistent with the atmosphere of the premises. Analytic processes appear to have played little role in the time-constrained condition, whereas their involvement increased in a self-paced, unconstrained condition. From a dual-process perspective, the results further specify how task demands affect the recruitment of heuristic and analytic systems of reasoning. Because the syllogisms and experimental procedure were the same as those used in a previous neuroimaging study by Goel, Buchel, Frith, and Dolan (2000), the result also deepen our understanding of the cognitive processes investigated by that study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-530
Number of pages18
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Atmosphere effect
  • Belief bias
  • Deduction
  • Heuristics
  • Mental models
  • Neuroimaging
  • Reasoning
  • Syllogisms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Medicine(all)

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