Constraints on Analogical Inference
Article first published online: 11 FEB 2010
© 1997 Cognitive Science Society, Inc.
Volume 21, Issue 4, pages 373–418, October 1997
How to Cite
Markman, A. B. (1997), Constraints on Analogical Inference. Cognitive Science, 21: 373–418. doi: 10.1207/s15516709cog2104_1
- Issue published online: 11 FEB 2010
- Article first published online: 11 FEB 2010
The ability to reason by analogy is particularly important because it permits the extension of knowledge of a target domain by virtue of its similarity to a base domain via a process of analogical inference. The general procedure for analogical inference involves copying structure from the base to the target in which missing information is generated, and substitutions are made for items for which analogical correspondences have already been found. A pure copying with substitution and generation process is too profligate to be useful, and so constraints must be placed on what information is to be carried over. In this paper, the importance of systematicity as a constraint on inference is explored in four studies in which subjects find correspondences between domains and also make inferences. This work suggests that people prefer to make inferences of information connected to systematic correspondences between domains. A second important theme of this paper is that violations of one-to-one mapping can lead to inconsistent object substitutions in inference. The data reveal no such inconsistent substitutions in people's inferences, suggesting that they do respect one-to-one mapping in analogical inference. These findings are discussed relative to four prominent computational models of analogical mapping and inference.