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    The psychological mechanism of the slippery slope argument

    Corner, A. and Hahn, Ulrike and Oaksford, Michael (2011) The psychological mechanism of the slippery slope argument. Journal of Memory and Language 64 (2), pp. 133-152. ISSN 0749-596X.

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    Abstract

    Slippery slope arguments (SSAs) have a bad philosophical reputation. They seem, however, to be widely used and frequently accepted in many legal, political, and ethical contexts. Hahn and Oaksford (2007) argued that distinguishing strong and weak SSAs may have a rational basis in Bayesian decision theory. In this paper three experiments investigated the mechanism of the slippery slope showing that they may have an objective basis in category boundary re-appraisal. When the beginning and the end of a slippery slope are more similar, the probability that they are perceived to belong in the same category is higher and the SSA is stronger. Experiment 1 established a robust effect of probability on SSA evaluation. Experiments 2 and 2A showed that when similar items are classified in the same category this leads to stronger SSAs. In Experiment 3, in a correlational analysis, it was shown that participants’ confidence in their categorisation judgements predicted the perceived strength of an SSA and that this relationship was moderated by similarity between the ends of the slippery slope. We conclude that an important aspect of many SSAs may have an objective basis in well-established and rational cognitive theories.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Argumentation, Bayesian, slippery slope, reasoning, categorisation
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Science > Psychological Sciences
    Research Centre: Birkbeck Knowledge Lab
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2011 11:32
    Last Modified: 02 Dec 2016 13:39
    URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/3000

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