Characterizing belief bias in syllogistic reasoning: A hierarchical Bayesian meta-analysis of ROC data

Dries Trippas, David Kellen, Henrik Singmann, Gordon Pennycook, Derek J. Koehler, Jonathan A. Fugelsang, Chad Dubé

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The belief-bias effect is one of the most-studied biases in reasoning. A recent study of the phenomenon using the signal detection theory (SDT) model called into question all theoretical accounts of belief bias by demonstrating that belief-based differences in the ability to discriminate between valid and invalid syllogisms may be an artifact stemming from the use of inappropriate linear measurement models such as analysis of variance (Dube et al., Psychological Review, 117(3), 831–863, 2010). The discrepancy between Dube et al.’s, Psychological Review, 117(3), 831–863 (2010) results and the previous three decades of work, together with former’s methodological criticisms suggests the need to revisit earlier results, this time collecting confidence-rating responses. Using a hierarchical Bayesian meta-analysis, we reanalyzed a corpus of 22 confidence-rating studies (N = 993). The results indicated that extensive replications using confidence-rating data are unnecessary as the observed receiver operating characteristic functions are not systematically asymmetric. These results were subsequently corroborated by a novel experimental design based on SDT’s generalized area theorem. Although the meta-analysis confirms that believability does not influence discriminability unconditionally, it also confirmed previous results that factors such as individual differences mediate the effect. The main point is that data from previous and future studies can be safely analyzed using appropriate hierarchical methods that do not require confidence ratings. More generally, our results set a new standard for analyzing data and evaluating theories in reasoning. Important methodological and theoretical considerations for future work on belief bias and related domains are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2141-2174
Number of pages34
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


  • Belief bias
  • Deductive reasoning
  • Hierarchical Bayesian
  • Meta-analysis
  • Signal detection theory
  • Syllogisms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Characterizing belief bias in syllogistic reasoning: A hierarchical Bayesian meta-analysis of ROC data'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this