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Why You Aren’t Getting Better At LSAT Logical Reasoning

The LSAT test-writers are masters at paraphrasing. This means, they can express one idea in nearly a hundred ways. You might have read a question and easily thought of the answer. But when you reached the answer choices, none of the answers seemed to match your idea. You might have then gone back and re-read the question, and then you were totally thrown off.

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As you can see, the second sentence basically has the same meaning as the first. But, without flexibility and an open mind, you might miss that on the test. The chapter illustrates how these characteristics apply in several general tasks involved in analysis, including interpreting questions, searching for information, assessing information, and assessing our own judgments.

Views about human rationality have differed widely over the years. In the midth century, psychologists were optimistic about human.

Mark C Timmons

Countless examples show that people do not reason according to the rules of logic and probability, that we fail to recognize missing information, and that we are overconfident in our judgments. Among the better known irrationalities are the availability and representativeness heuristics and the hindsight and overconfidence biases all discussed below.

To better understand, predict the occurrence of, and, perhaps, remedy such irrationalities, it is useful to understand when, why, and how they arise. Perhaps the most important thing to know about reasoning errors is that the errors are not random. If such irrationalities are built into our reasoning, what in our cognitive system causes them? Indeed, some errors may be reduced when minor changes are made to the presentation e.


However, most errors cannot be made to disappear and most are 1 present in experts as well as novices and 2 resistant to debiasing attempts. People often have to make a judgment about some attribute—perhaps an external attribute such as how frequently some event occurs, or an internal attribute such as how happy you are. When the attribute is complicated because important information about it is unknown, the information is difficult to assess, or too much information is available, people substitute that attribute judgment with one that is simpler to make.

Because you do not have the current list embossed in your memory, and going through your mental map of the world would be tedious, you decide to think up the names of countries that begin with those letters and guess whether they are in the United Nations. However, for the United Nations problem, substituting what you can think up for what is true is likely to lead you to fail. Imagining versus doing Consider this oft-told story by the Nobel-prize winning psychologist Danny Kahneman.

Stage 1: Unconscious Incompetence

The group had been meeting for about a year and had written a few lessons and chapters. One day, Kahneman asked each group member to privately estimate how much more time each one thought would be needed to finish the book. The estimates ranged from 1. Then he asked the curriculum expert how long other groups like this one had taken finish a textbook. The expert seemed chagrined. He reported that about 40 percent of such groups never actually finished their books, and of those that did, completion times ranged from 7 to 10 years.

Completion ended up taking 8 years. Such misestimates occur because when we consider how things will pan out, we think about how much work we could possibly get done in a period of time, and we think of the best case scenario and forget to expect the usual unexpected types of distractions and delays. If we have actually performed a task ourselves, we may be good at judging how long others will take to do it—but the usefulness of that judgment can be destroyed.

People who need to find the answer themselves are better at judging the relative difficulty of an anagram problem than people who solve it after having seen the answer 4 Kelley and Jacoby, When you need to work out problems for yourself, you can use your own subjective difficulty as a good predictor for the subjective difficulty of others. However, if you have previously seen the answer, the informativeness of your subjective difficulty is ruined.

Measuring abstract reasoning in neural networks | DeepMind

They then used their own speed as the basis for their judgments—making them bad at predicting the difficulty other people would have. Those who had seen the anagram and answer presented right next to each other knew not to rely on their own subjective experience in solving the anagram. In many studies see Fischhoff, , for a historical review , people read about the prelude to an obscure battle between the British and the.

Some people were told that the British won, others that the Gurkhas won, and others were not told who was victorious. Then all were told to ignore the victor information. Later, asked to judge the probability of various outcomes or when asked to judge what others who did not know the outcome would think, people who read a particular outcome were more likely to respond that that particular outcome is the one that would have occurred or that others would guess.

This inability to forget or ignore what we know can be a pernicious problem in the courtroom. However, once an injury has occurred, the hindsight bias comes into play. Thus, although it might seem unlikely that people would badly misuse a consumer product, once it happens, jurors are likely to conclude that the use, and resulting injury, were foreseeable Kamin and Rachlinski, Assessing ourselves A very important judgment that analysts and others commonly have to make is how confident they are in what they know or in the predictions they have made.

As described by Arkes and Kajdasz this volume, Chapter 7 , Intuitive Theory 2 , people are typically overconfident in their judgments. For example, predictions made with 90 percent confidence are likely to happen less than 90 percent of the time. In addition, people are not always good at discriminating between events that should be believed with high confidence and those that should not. Why might overconfidence occur? Correlations between beliefs like predictions and actuality typically go awry when the factors affecting the judgment are different from the factors affecting the reality.

We thus end up with more confidence in outcomes that come to mind more easily. A related problem in assessing ourselves is that we view ourselves as more fair and less biased than others. But we are, and all of those affect our predictions. For a good review of the above work, see Dunning During the past several decades, researchers broadened their investigations regarding the inputs to our reasoning, including examining the effects of unconscious knowledge, emotion, and culture.

Emotion was long considered to be a detriment to reasoning, but current thinking suggests that emotion might give us accurate information and change our thinking strategies in ways appropriate to the situation Clore and Palmer, Research on cultural effects on reasoning demonstrates a variety of differences in what might have been thought to be common human reasoning processes.

An important recent article on that topic points out that nearly all of the research in psychology journals including most of what is cited in this chapter was conducted with U. Thus, the research described herein is likely to characterize the reasoning of analysts themselves, but it might not characterize individuals from the various populations that analysts may consider.

Unfortunately, many people took the lesson from the book that intuition is always good and reliable.

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A better lesson is that sometimes intuition is good—but only when conditions are right. In the past, on the surface, these authors seemed to disagree—Kahneman demonstrated that intuition heuristics can often give the wrong result, whereas Klein demonstrated that, especially in the hands of experts, intuition often yields the correct result.

The mind can be thought of as having two reasoning systems, often labeled System 1 and System 2 Stanovich and West, But System 1 comes up with an answer more quickly. Then System 2 might check and either approve or override that answer Evans, How much does the ball cost?

Most people will initially think the answer is 10 cents; 10 cents was mentioned and it seems about the right size. However, if System 2 is engaged to check the math, seeing how that answer is wrong is simple.

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Note, however, that how people answer depends somewhat on various features of the situation—such as the time available for making the decision, the way the information is presented—and on various features of the individual—such as IQ and statistical training Kahneman and Frederick, At a global level, analysis is more a System 2 than a System 1 process.

Even when decisions need to be made quickly, they do not need to be made instantly; there is time for System 2 to check the work of System 1. Still, the thoughts generated quickly by System 1 may serve as inputs for better or worse to later reasoning. So, for example, in the classic irrationality findings in which System 1 makes an attribute substitution e.

Making people conscious of attribute substitutions that affect their judgments can often change judgments for. Theorists debate not only about whether there are two or more reasoning systems, but also whether these two are really a dichotomy or represent ends of a continuum see Evans, When I try to remember which system is which, my mnemonic is that ONE came first—it is thought to be evolutionarily older and shared with animals—whereas TWO is thought to be newer and require language. However, if the researchers preface the happiness question with a seemingly banal question about the weather, the weather—an irrelevant factor—no longer affects mood judgments; that is, people eliminate its influence Schwarz and Clore, This result is similar to the FSCAR example above: When people are aware of something that could be throwing off their judgment, they may be able to set it aside and rely on different possibly better information when making the judgments.

Becoming conscious of a factor that is relevant to an answer can cause that factor to be overweighted. Indeed, with complex multidimensional problems, System 1 may be valuable for considering multiple factors proportionally and finding the most coherent story. An even more recent line of theorizing broadens the factors that influence thinking to include the human body.

This line points out that reasoning is not a disembodied activity; rather, it takes inputs from human sensory systems, occurs in brains molded by evolution to fit human needs, and serves the goal of facilitating human action.