2020 Undergraduate Research Showcase


Abductive Reasoning as an Evolved Cognitive Capability

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. John Ziker


This project is an investigation into logical reasoning. Previous studies have shown that people generally have a low success rate in solving deductive logic problems, such as the Wason Selection Task. The most common error people make in an abstract Wason Selection Task is the deductive "error" of affirming the consequent. Affirming the consequences is also known as an abduction. This project is interested in understanding the role of abduction as a potentially evolved psychological mechanism. In this pilot project we utilize a factorial vignette survey design, paired with a small number of demographic questions and standard psychological batteries, and including Locus of Control (Rotter's I/E).

The main alternative primes that we are testing for are as follows: The use of abductions in supernatural versus natural claims, social primed versus directly observed claims, and fitness versus non-fitness relevant claims. This is a collaborative project between professors, graduate students, and undergraduate students. The aim of this project is to test the idea that abduction is an evolved cognitive capacity of the human mind by examining the contexts by which individuals find abductions more or less convincing.

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