Role of Responsibility in Conditional Reasoning

Francesco Mancini, Amella Gangemi (2002): Role of Responsibility in Conditional Reasoning. In: Psychological Reports, 91 (1), pp. 275-288, 2002.


A series of recent studies showed that facilitation on the Wason Selection Task could be produced by perceived utilities. The present work was aimed at testing whether a similar factor could also be involved in human reasoning performance in the context of responsibility. We supposed that the motivation of the subject assuming responsibility is affected by normative goals. These goals prescribe the actions and the results to be achieved, also considering the different social roles. In this experiment the responses of different groups of subjects (N = 270) to a selection task were compared in two different conditions involving different responsibility contexts. The results show that the subjects' strategies in searching for possible violators depended on the condition (responsibility vs no responsibility). In particular, only in the context of responsibility were the performances elicited by conditional rules characterised by a falsification strategy.