An investigation of belief-bias and logicality in reasoning with emotional contents

Marios Eliades, Warren Mansell, Andrew J. Stewart, Isabelle Blanchette

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    The effects of emotion and belief on logicality have been examined independently in the literature. The aim of this paper is to explore the possible effect of emotion on both logicality and belief-bias. We also examine the nature of the belief-bias associated with emotion in terms of Type 1 versus Type 2 processes. In two studies we employed a categorical syllogisms task to compare reasoning about emotional and neutral contents. Study 1 was conducted with women from a university population and Study 2 included victims of sexual abuse in addition to control participants. The categorical syllogisms were manipulated in terms of logical validity (valid, invalid), believability (believable, unbelievable), and content type (generally emotional, sexual abuse, neutral). The results from control participants and victims were in line with the literature, indicating that reasoning about emotional contents is associated with decreased logicality compared to neutral contents. We also found some evidence that emotion leads to an increase in belief-bias, at least for sexual abuse contents. Overall the findings are consistent with increased Type 1 and decreased Type 2 processing with emotional contents, most strongly for contents related to sexual abuse. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)461-479
    Number of pages18
    JournalThinking and Reasoning
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012


    • Belief-bias
    • Deductive reasoning
    • Dual-system accounts of reasoning
    • Emotion
    • Type 1/Type 2 processes


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