Reasoning about durations

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Description: Few experiments have examined how people reason about durative relations, e.g., during. Such relations pose challenges to present theories of reasoning, but many researchers argue that people simulate a mental timeline when they think about sequences of events. A recent theory posits that to mentally simulate durative relations, reasoners do not represent all of the time points across which an event might endure. Instead, they construct discrete tokens that stand in place of the beginnings and endings of those events. The theory predicts that when reasoners need to build multiple simulations to solve a reasoning problem, they should be more prone to error. Three experiments tested the theory by providing participants sets of premises describing durative relations; participants judged whether the sets were consistent or inconsistent. The results validated the model theory's prediction. We conclude by situating the results in recent work on the neurocognitive mechanisms that underlie temporal thinking.


Corrigendum We discovered errors in the computation of the binomial tests reported in the paper such that the computations inflated the p-values from each test. We report each error here: The binomial test on p. 2108 reports that 30 out of 45 participants made accurate judgments more often than chance. The p-value should be .036 (not < .0001 as reported). The binomial test on p. 2109 reports tha...


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  • The consistency of durative relations

    Few experiments have examined how people reason about durative relations, e.g., "during". Such relations pose challenges to present theories of reason...

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