Nicole Cruz

I am working in the field of reasoning under uncertainty. A general question pursued in the field is that of what people do when they draw inferences: What criteria they use to define a correct inference. In the context of this question, I investigate more concretely to what extent people’s responses in reasoning tasks are coherent, in the sense of respecting the axioms of probability theory. I also investigate to what extent people distinguish between uncertain inferences whose conclusion follows deductively from its premises (i. e. inferences that are probabilistically valid), and uncertain inferences for which this is not the case. To the extent that people are found to respect the axioms of probability theory and to distinguish deductive from non-deductive inferences, these axioms and the concept of deduction can be said to be good models of what people do when they reason.

A second question in this context is that of how people interpret conditional statements. That is, statements of the form: “if the cup contains coffee then it contains a drink”, or: “If the cup falls to the floor then it breaks”. I thereby investigate in which way it matters for people’s degree of belief in a conditional whether there is a connection between the first, or “if” part of the conditional, and the second or “then” part of it. This connection could be for instance a set-inclusion relation as in the first example, or a causal relation as in the second. I also investigate to what extent it plays a role whether the conditional refers to a single event, as in the above examples, or to a set of events, as is the case for: “all cups that contain coffee contain a drink”.

Recent publications on the topic:

Cruz, N., Baratgin, J., Oaksford, M., & Over, D. E. (2015). Bayesian reasoning with ifs and ands and ors. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, Art. 192.

Cruz, N., & Oberauer, K. (2014). Comparing the meanings of “if” and “all”. Memory & Cognition, 42(8), 1345-1356.