CARNEGIE-MELLON UNIV PITTSBURGH PA DEPT OF COMPUTER SCIENCE
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Previous theories of human reasoning have all been based on what might be called the transduction paradigm people encode the problem statement into an internal representation, reasoning using processes devoted specifically to that purpose, and then decode the result. The nature of the intermediate reasoning process has been a major source of debate among cognitive psychologists. Some researchers have proposed that this process can best be characterized as the application of formal rules of inference while others have argued that it corresponds to a search for alternative mental models of the problem statement. I believe that the transduction paradigm itself is in error, at least for the standards tasks that have been used in studying human deductive reasoning. My thesis is that most untrained subjects lack sophisticated reasoning-specific mechanisms for solving these tasks, and that, in their absence, they attempt to make progress by repeatedly applying linguistic processes to encode and re-encode the problem statement. I refer to this type of behavior as verbal reasoning. The idea of verbal reasoning arose out of VR, a computational model of human behavior on categorical syllogisms. It simulates human behavior on every variant of the syllogism task using purely linguistic processes.