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Trognon, A., Batt, M., Laux, J. (2011). Why is Dialogical Solving of a Logical Problem More Effective than Individual Solving? A Formal and Experimental Study of an Abstract Version of Wason's Task? Langage and Dialogue, 1/1, 44-78.


This experimental research expands Trognon (1993). Its theoretical backgrounds are in Trognon, Batt and Marchetti (2011), where we analyzed the function of the group and its (free) dialogical communication in the genesis of a shared objectivity among human beings. Our theory of the free dialogical communication is exposed in Trognon (2002), Trognon and Batt (2010), and Trognon, Batt, Bromberg, Sorsana and Frigout (2011). These studies established how we could describe the dynamical logic of the dialectical reasoning making throughout the interlocutory processes. Who is interested in our theory will find others illustrations in Schwartz, Perret-Clermont, Trognon and Marro (2008), Trognon, Sorsana, Batt and Longin (2008), Sorsana and Trognon (2011), Trognon and Sorsana (2011), Sorsana, Guizard and Trognon (2013),and last but not least, Batt, Trognon, Rivasseaux, Vernant, Jonveaux (2014).


We study the accomplishment of the abstract version of Wason's selection task in a cooperative dialogue context that has been neglected in the research devoted to this task. 123 psychology students, 75 in their third year and 48 in their first year of studies participated in the experiment. 59 students performed the task individually (control group) and 32 in dyads (experimental group) while we recorded their dialogues. In accordance with the literature, the dyads outperform significantly the students working alone. To discover the strategies implementedin the four dyads which succeeded, we analyzed their respective dialogues with a theory (Interlocutory Logic) of the logical form of conversational events as they are manifested phenomenally in natural language. We show that these strategies are situated and emergent products of the dialogue, since no member of the dyads knew them beforethe interaction. So, it is surely by supporting the emergence of such joint cognition that the interaction is a factor of cognitive progress. We conclude this research by some remarks on the Wason's task and moreover on the methodological solipsism in the psychology of reasoning.


Wason's selection task, Conditional reasoning, Dialogue, Interlocutory logic, Logical implication.


I. Introduction

2. Experiment

3. The discovery of the solution by the four dyads that succeeded

3.1. Dialogue Analysis method : interlocutory logic

3.2. Micro genesis of the discovery of the solution by the four dyads who succeeded

a) The four dialogues

- Two dyads where the partners contributed unequally to finding the solution

- Two dyads in which the partners co-constructed the solution

b) Logical strategies implemented in the dialogues of the four dyads who succeeded

- The attribution of a minimal social status to the dialogue partners seems not to have affected their collaboraton : «never the distributions of the main speech acts of discussion nor the distribution of acts of reference to subsets of cards made by the members of the successfuldyads, differed from their respective theoretical distributions (i.e., they are never significant»(pp. 65-67). So «Since the quantitative analysis of the distributuion of conversational acts (propositions, questions, hypotheses, deductions, references, etc.) across the dialogue partners did not reveal any major differences in any of the four successful dyads, their success was certainly due to their dialogical managment of cognitions»(pp.67-68).

- Strategies discovered by successful dyads "In three of the four dyads, neither member found the correct solution on his/her own : le correct solution emerge during the interaction (...). In two dyad (17 and 29), the partners unhesitatingly agreed upon the correct solution, which they found following a fully co-constructed reasoning process. On the other hands, the partners contributed unequally to the reasoning in the other two dyads. In dyad 5, A discovered the solution almost entirely without B's help. In dyad 22, A, who brought the reasoning process to the solution, clearly benefitted from the interactional support of the partner. In these two dyads, moreover, agreement was achieved essentially after the less capable partner had given up" (pp. 69-70).

- The strategies discovered more or less jointly be the dyads who perform the task sucessfully (...) are presented formally pp. 69 table III and demonstrated (within the interlocutory-logic's frame) as natural deductions whose various parts are distibuted accross the partners of the dyads in the Appendix of the article.


«The skills brought into play by the partner of a dyad are diversified and highly interweaved» Le process of resolution is a system like a Weigand's «Mixed Game» (2010), where the individual contributions are distributed into all the dialogical levels of a conversation, "not according to a division of labor defined prior to the interaction, but as Suchman 1987 would certainly say in accordance with a temporary, local, contextual of the interaction. And if it appears that on of the partners focuses more on the interaction while the other concentrates more on the task, it is either spontaneouley so, or as a contextual revelation of their respective ways of being" (pp. 71)

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