Information Stored in Memory Affects Abductive Reasoning [post]

Anja Klichowicz, Daniela Eileen Lippoldt, Agnes Rosner, Josef F. Krems
2021 unpublished
Abductive reasoning describes the process of deriving an explanation from given observations. The Theory of Abductive Reasoning (TAR; Johnson & Krems, 2001) assumes that when information is presented sequentially, new information is integrated into a mental representation, a situation model, the central data structure on which all reasoning processes are based. Because working memory capacity is limited, the question arises how reasoning might change with the amount of information that has
more » ... formation that has to be processed in memory. Thus, we conducted an experiment (N = 34) in which we manipulated whether previous observation information and previously found explanations had to be retrieved from memory or were still visually present. Our results provide evidence that people experience differences in task difficulty when more information has to be retrieved from memory. This is also evident in changes in the mental representation as reflected by eye tracking measures. However, no differences are found between groups in the reasoning outcome. These findings suggest that individuals construct their situation model from both information in memory as well as external memory stores. The complexity of the model depends on the task: when memory demands are high, only relevant information is included. With this compensation strategy, people are able to achieve similar reasoning outcomes even when faced with tasks that are more difficult. This implies that people are able to adapt their strategy to the task in order to keep their reasoning successful.
doi:10.31234/osf.io/ru3p5 fatcat:kszlae5mnnd4xnlfetdd7jyc4m