Towards a resolution of some outstanding issues in transitive research: an empirical test on middle childhood

Wright, B.C. ORCID: 0000-0002-4946-9761, 2020. Towards a resolution of some outstanding issues in transitive research: an empirical test on middle childhood. Learning and Behavior. ISSN 1543-4494

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Transitive Inference (deduce B > D from B > C and C > D) can help us to understand other areas of sociocognitive development. Across three experiments, learning, memory, and the validity of two transitive paradigms were investigated. In Experiment 1 (N = 121), 7-year-olds completed a three-term nontraining task or a five-term task requiring extensive-training. Performance was superior on the three-term task. Experiment 2 presented 5–10-year-olds with a new five-term task, increasing learning opportunities without lengthening training (N = 71). Inferences improved, suggesting children can learn five-term series rapidly. Regarding memory, the minor (CD) premise was the best predictor of BD-inferential performance in both task-types. However, tasks exhibited different profiles according to associations between the major (BC) premise and BD inference, correlations between the premises, and the role of age. Experiment 3 (N = 227) helped rule out the possible objection that the above findings simply stemmed from three-term tasks with real objects being easier to solve than computer-tasks. It also confirmed that, unlike for five-term task (Experiments 1 & 2), inferences on three-term tasks improve with age, whether the age range is wide (Experiment 3) or narrow (Experiment 2). I conclude that the tasks indexed different routes within a dual-process conception of transitive reasoning: The five-term tasks indexes Type 1 (associative) processing, and the three-term task indexes Type 2 (analytic) processing. As well as demonstrating that both tasks are perfectly valid, these findings open up opportunities to use transitive tasks for educability, to investigate the role of transitivity in other domains of reasoning, and potentially to benefit the lived experiences of persons with developmental issues.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Learning and Behavior
Creators: Wright, B.C.
Publisher: Springer
Date: 12 August 2020
ISSN: 1543-4494
Rights: © The Author(s) 2020. Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 14 Sep 2020 15:03
Last Modified: 31 May 2021 15:13

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