Intuitive interference in probabilistic reasoning

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One theoretical framework which addresses students' conceptions and reasoning processes in mathematics and science education is the intuitive rules theory. According to this theory, students' reasoning is affected by intuitive rules when they solve a wide variety of conceptually non-related mathematical and scientific tasks that share some common external features. In this paper, we explore the cognitive processes related to the intuitive rule more A-more B and discuss issues related to overcoming its interference. We focused on the context of probability using a computerized "Probability Reasoning - Reaction Time Test." We compared the accuracy and reaction times of responses that are in line with this intuitive rule to those that are counter-intuitive among high-school students. We also studied the effect of the level of mathematics instruction on participants' responses. The results indicate that correct responses in line with the intuitive rule are more accurate and shorter than correct, counter-intuitive ones. Regarding the level of mathematics instruction, the only significant difference was in the percentage of correct responses to the counter-intuitive condition. Students with a high level of mathematics instruction had significantly more correct responses. These findings could contribute to designing innovative ways of assisting students in overcoming the interference of the intuitive rules.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)627-639
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Science and Mathematics Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2006


  • Intuition
  • Intuitive interference
  • Intuitive rules
  • Mathematics education
  • Probability
  • Reaction time
  • Science education


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