Deduction from if-then personality signatures


Personality signatures are sets of “if then”" rules describing how a given person would feel or act in a specific situation. These rules can be used as the major premise of a deductive argument, but they are mostly processed for social cognition purposes; and this common usage is likely to leak into the way they are processed in a deductive reasoning context. It is hypothesised that agreement with a Modus Ponens argument featuring a personality signature as its major premise is affected by the reasoner’s own propensity to display this personality signature. To test this prediction, Modus Ponens arguments were constructed from conditionally phrased items extracted from available personality scales. This allowed recording of (a) agreement with the conclusion of these arguments, and (b) the reasoner’s propensity to display the personality signature, using as a proxy this reasoner’s score on the personality scale without the items used in the argument. Three experiments (N = 256, N = 318, N = 298) applied this procedure to Fairness, Responsive Joy, and Self-Control. These experiments yielded very comparable effects, establishing that a reasoner’s propensity to display a given personality signature determines this reasoner’s agreement with the conclusion of a Modus Ponens argument featuring the personality signature.

Thinking and Reasoning
JF Bonnefon
JF Bonnefon
Behavioral Scientist