Why is logic so likeable? A single-process account of argument evaluation with logic and liking judgment

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition


American Psychological Association


School of Arts and Humanities



Grant Number

ARC Number : DP150101094

Grant Link



Hayes, B. K., Wei, P., Dunn, J. C., & Stephens, R. G. (2020). Why is logic so likeable? A single-process account of argument evaluation with logic and liking judgments. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 46(4), 699–719. https://doi.org/10.1037/xlm0000753


Four experiments examined the claims that people can intuitively assess the logical validity of arguments,and that qualitatively different reasoning processes drive intuitive and explicit validity assessments. Ineach study participants evaluated arguments varying in validity and believability using either deductivecriteria (logic task) or via an intuitive, affective response (liking task). Experiment 1 found that peopleare sensitive to argument validity on both tasks, with valid arguments receiving higher liking as well ashigher deductive ratings than invalid arguments. However, the claim that this effect is driven by logicalintuitions was challenged by the finding that sensitivity to validity in both liking and logic tasks wasaffected in similar ways by manipulations of concurrent memory load (Experiments 1 and 2) andvariations in individual working memory capacity (Experiments 3 and 4). In both tasks better discrim-ination between valid and invalid arguments was found when more working memory resources wereavailable. Formal signal detection models of reasoning were tested against the experimental data usingsigned difference analysis (Stephens, Dunn, & Hayes, 2018b). A single-process reasoning model whichassumes that argument evaluation in both logic and liking tasks involves a single latent dimension forassessing argument strength but different response criteria for each task, was found to be consistent withthe data from each experiment (as were some dual-process models). The experimental and modelingresults confirm that people are sensitive to argument validity in both explicit logic and affect rating tasks,but that these results can be explained by a single underlying reasoning process.