New Paradigms in the Psychology of Reasoning

Posted: 16 Jan 2020

See all articles by Nick Chater

Nick Chater

University of Warwick - Warwick Business School

Date Written: January 2020


The psychology of verbal reasoning initially compared performance with classical logic. In the last 25 years, a new paradigm has arisen, which focuses on knowledge-rich reasoning for communication and persuasion and is typically modeled using Bayesian probability theory rather than logic. This paradigm provides a new perspective on argumentation, explaining the rational persuasiveness of arguments that are logical fallacies. It also helps explain how and why people stray from logic when given deductive reasoning tasks. What appear to be erroneous responses, when compared against logic, often turn out to be rationally justified when seen in the richer rational framework of the new paradigm. Moreover, the same approach extends naturally to inductive reasoning tasks, in which people extrapolate beyond the data they are given and logic does not readily apply. We outline links between social and individual reasoning and set recent developments in the psychology of reasoning in the wider context of Bayesian cognitive science.

Suggested Citation

Chater, Nick, New Paradigms in the Psychology of Reasoning (January 2020). Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 71, pp. 305-330, 2020, Available at SSRN: or

Nick Chater (Contact Author)

University of Warwick - Warwick Business School ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom


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