Abstract and Keywords
Transitive inference (TI) is a form of deductive reasoning that allows one to derive a relation between items that have not been explicitly compared before. In a general form, TI is the ability to deduce that if Item B is related to Item C and Item C is related to Item D, then Item B must be related to Item D. This chapter begins with discussions of the methodology of nonverbal TI research, followed by problems in interpreting the results of TI research. It reviews cognitive and reinforcement-based models of TI and considers research on neurobiological mechanisms of nonverbal inferences. It shows that with the single exception of honey bees, every species tested so far has been found to exhibit transitive-like behavior in an n-term series task. Whether this overwhelming incidence of success means that animals truly make inferences, however, has been a matter of a considerable debate that continues to this day. The author concludes that current experimental evidence does not strongly support either cognitive models or reinforcement-based models of TI.
Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.
If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.