A cognitive theory of graphical and linguistic reasoning: logic and implementation. Cognitive Science

Stenning, Keith and Oberlander, Jon (1997) A cognitive theory of graphical and linguistic reasoning: logic and implementation. Cognitive Science. [Journal (Paginated)]

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We discuss external and internal graphical and linguistic representational systems. We argue that a cognitive theory of peoples' reasoning performance must account for (a) the logical equivalence of inferences expressed in graphical and linguistic form; and (b) the implementational differences that affect facility of inference. Our theory proposes that graphical representations limit abstraction and thereby aid processibility. We discuss the ideas of specificity and abstraction, and their cognitive relevance. Empirical support comes from tasks (i) involving and (ii) not involving the manipulation of external graphics. For (i), we take Euler's Circles, provide a novel computational reconstruction, show how it captures abstractions, and contrast it with earlier construals, and with Mental Models' representations. We demonstrate equivalence of the graphical Euler system, and the non-graphical Mental Models system. For (ii), we discuss text comprehension, and the mental performance of syllogisms. By positing an internal system with the same specificity as Euler's Circles we cover the Mental Models data, and generate new empirical predictions. Finally, we consider how the architecture of working memory explains why such specific representations are relatively easy to store.

Item Type:Journal (Paginated)
Keywords:human reasoning, graphical reasoning, diagrammatic reasoning, representation, syllogisms, mental models, mental logics, computational equivalence
Subjects:Psychology > Cognitive Psychology
Computer Science > Complexity Theory
Linguistics > Semantics
Philosophy > Philosophy of Language
Philosophy > Logic
Philosophy > Philosophy of Mind
ID Code:821
Deposited By: Stenning, Keith
Deposited On:05 Aug 1999
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:54


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