Conditional content, explicit information and generating cases: Sources for suppressing inferences
In the present study, we evaluate the suppression effect by asking participants to make inferences with everyday conditionals ("if A, then B"; "if Ana finds a friend, then she will go to the theatre"), choosing between three possible conclusions ("she went to the theatre"; "she did not go to the theatre"; "it cannot be concluded"). We test how these inferences can be influenced by three factors: a) when the content of the conditional induces us to think about disabling conditions that prevent
... from accepting the consequent (A and ¬B) or alternative conditions that induce us to think about other antecedents that could also lead to the consequent (¬A and B), b) when explicit information is given about what really happened (e.g. Ana found a friend but they did not go to the theatre; or Ana did not find a friend but she went to the theatre) and c) when participants have to look for concrete disabling (e.g. Ana's friend had to work) and alternative cases (e.g. Ana's sister wanted to go to the theatre) before making the inferences. Previous studies have shown what were called "suppression effects": disabling conditions reduced valid inferences while considering alternatives led to a reduction in fallacies. These two "suppression effects" were shown in Experiment 1: a) in an Implicit condition that included just the content factor of the conditional and b) with a greater magnitude in a second Explicit condition that included the three factors (content, explicit information and search for counterexamples). Experiment 2 compared the same Explicit condition with another in which participants, instead of looking for counterexamples, completed a control task of looking for synonyms. In addition, half the participants looked for a few items (2 cases) and the other half for many items (5 cases). Results again showed the suppressing effect in all the conditions, but the magnitude was greater in the counterexample condition. No relevant differences were obtained according to the number of cases generated; the most relevant result was that the factors provided an additive effect on the suppression.