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Abstract

Formal reasoning has been studied extensively with tasks that have physics or laboratory content. This study compares laboratory and naturalistic content influences on formal reasoning tasks. Ninety 13-, 15-, and 17-year olds received both laboratory and naturalistic content tasks which required ability to control variables. Expectations about the variables in each task were measured. Results revealed that 8 to 20% of the variance in performance was associated with task content. Content effects were shown to reflect expectations about task variables.