Reasoning

Cognitive Daily

Category archives for Reasoning

Suppose you’re running a small organization with five motor vehicles used by your staff and you want to replace them with more fuel-efficient versions, both to save money and reduce your organization’s carbon footprint. Each vehicle travels 10,000 miles a year. Based on your budget and the requirements for each vehicle, you can do the…

Take a look at this graph showing population distribution by county in a fictional U.S. state: How do you read such a graph? Is this the ideal way to depict this sort of information? If you wanted to know which part of the state was most populous, how would you go about figuring it out?…

Two years ago, we linked to a post about an ABC news program that claimed to have replicated Stanley Milgram’s controversial experiments from the 1960s and 70s about obedience to authority. The original study tricked unwitting paid study participants into believing that they had administered potentially deadly shocks at the bidding of an experimenter. The…

Carmen Miranda is probably best-known today as the former spokesperson for Chiquita bananas, but she was equally famous — and outrageous — as an actress, singer, and dancer in the 1940s and 1950s. Cognitive dissonance is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when people’s actions contradict strongly-held beliefs. It’s such a distasteful feeling that people will…

Emotion, risk, evolution, and gender

You’re given $15. Which of these bets would you gamble your $15 on? An 80 percent chance of winning $18.75 A 40 percent chance of winning $37.50 A 20 percent chance of winning $75 A 5 percent chance of $300 Or would you just keep the original $15? The answer, it turns out, depends on…

Here’s a really interesting experiment that we may be able to replicate online. Take a look at this very short video. You’ll be shown a set of 12 arcs. Some of the arcs will be upturned and some of them will be turned downward, as in the example below. You’ll have about 2.5 seconds to…

John McCain, risk, and anger

Thomas Levenson has written an interesting post about John McCain and his fascination with high-stakes gambling. While it’s clear that his gambling habit isn’t going to put McCain in any serious financial danger, it does raise questions about his personality. One of the most difficult things voters try to do in an election is to…

When Jimmy and Nora were toddlers, we bought them great little plastic scooters to ride around the house. They were the perfect size for a small child. Yet Jimmy preferred to ride around on a plastic garbage truck instead, despite the fact that there was no steering wheel and the “seat” wasn’t nearly as comfortable,…

One of Jimmy’s favorite toys as a toddler was a simple little bucket of blocks. There were three shapes: a rectangular prism, a triangular prism, and a cylinder. The bucket’s lid had three holes: a square, a triangle, and a circle (The picture at right was the only one I could find online — this…

[This article was originally published in December, 2006] Take a look at these two images. Do they belong in the same category or different categories? You say the same? Wrong — they’re different! The one on the right is a little blurrier. What about these two? These are in the same category. Sure, the one…