Cultural Differences in Belief Bias Associated with Deductive Reasoning?


Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, 2029 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208. E-mail:


Norenzayan, Smith, Jun Kim, and Nisbett (2002) investigated cultural differences in the use of intuitive versus formal reasoning in 4 experiments. Our comment concerns the 4th experiment where Norenzayan et al. reported that, although there were no cultural differences in accuracy on abstract logical arguments, Koreans made more errors than U.S. undergraduates in judging the logical validity of concrete arguments. Norenzayan et al. concluded that Koreans are less likely than European Americans to decontextualize an argument's content from its logical structure, as Koreans were more likely to consider the believability of the conclusion when assessing an argument's validity (a belief bias). Notably, Korean participants were more conservative (less likely to say an argument is valid) than European American participants when assessing arguments. An analysis of the average of the hit and correct rejection rates in each of the conditions (abstract, concrete–believable, concrete–nonbelievable) revealed that, contrary to conclusions of Norenzayan et al., European Americans were no better than Koreans at determining the validity of concrete deductive arguments with conclusions varying in believability.