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Married Looking at Unmarried Answer

Page history last edited by peterga 11 years, 4 months ago


Answer:  A) Yes


More than 80% of people choose C.  Here is how to think about it:  Anne is the only person whose marital status is unknown.  You need to consider both possibilities.  If Anne is married, the answer is A -- she would be the married person looking at unmarried George.  If Anne is not married, the answer is still A -- Jack would be the married person looking at unmarried Anne.


One reason this question is interesting is that it illustrates how humans are "cognitive misers" -- i.e. when various cognitive methods may solve a puzzle we tend to adopt the one that requires the least cognitive effort (even if another method might be most likely to give us the correct answer).  Most people can carry out fully disjunctive reasoning (reasoning that considers all possibilities) when they are told this is necessary.


Avoiding cognitive miserliness is only very weakly associated with intelligence (0.20 to 0.30).




Source:  Scientific American Mind - Nov/Dec 2009  (the question is taken from the work of Hector Levesque, computer scientist at the University of Toronto


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