Prof. Dr. Olimpia Matarazzo

Committee: International Scientific Committee of Humanities and Social Sciences
University: Second University of Naples
Department: Department of Psychology
Research Fields: conditional reasoning, emotion, moral reasoning

Publications

4 Rhetorical Communication in the CogSci Discourse Community: The Cognitive Neurosciences (2004) in the Context of Scientific Dissemination

Authors: Olimpia Matarazzo, Lucia Abbamonte

Abstract:

In recent years linguistic research has turned increasing attention to covert/overt strategies to modulate authorial stance and positioning in scientific texts, and to the recipients' response. This study discussed some theoretical implications of the use of rhetoric in scientific communication and analysed qualitative data from the authoritative The Cognitive Neurosciences III (2004) volume. Its genre-identity, status and readability were considered, in the social interactive context of contemporary disciplinary discourses – in their polyphony of traditional and new, emerging genres. Evidence was given of the ways its famous authors negotiate and shape knowledge and research results – explicitly appraising team work and promoting faith in the fast-paced progress of Cognitive Neuroscience, also through experiential metaphors – by presenting a set of examples, ordered according to their dominant rhetorical quality.

Keywords: Identity, Knowledge, Rhetoric, Strategies, Genre, readability, appraisal, disciplinary discourses, experientialmetaphors, theoretical implications

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3 Linguistic, Pragmatic and Evolutionary Factors in Wason Selection Task

Authors: Olimpia Matarazzo, Fabrizio Ferrara

Abstract:

In two studies we tested the hypothesis that the appropriate linguistic formulation of a deontic rule – i.e. the formulation which clarifies the monadic nature of deontic operators - should produce more correct responses than the conditional formulation in Wason selection task. We tested this assumption by presenting a prescription rule and a prohibition rule in conditional vs. proper deontic formulation. We contrasted this hypothesis with two other hypotheses derived from social contract theory and relevance theory. According to the first theory, a deontic rule expressed in terms of cost-benefit should elicit a cheater detection module, sensible to mental states attributions and thus able to discriminate intentional rule violations from accidental rule violations. We tested this prevision by distinguishing the two types of violations. According to relevance theory, performance in selection task should improve by increasing cognitive effect and decreasing cognitive effort. We tested this prevision by focusing experimental instructions on the rule vs. the action covered by the rule. In study 1, in which 480 undergraduates participated, we tested these predictions through a 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 (type of the rule x rule formulation x type of violation x experimental instructions) between-subjects design. In study 2 – carried out by means of a 2 x 2 (rule formulation x type of violation) between-subjects design - we retested the hypothesis of rule formulation vs. the cheaterdetection hypothesis through a new version of selection task in which intentional vs. accidental rule violations were better discriminated. 240 undergraduates participated in this study. Results corroborate our hypothesis and challenge the contrasting assumptions. However, they show that the conditional formulation of deontic rules produces a lower performance than what is reported in literature.

Keywords: Linguistic, Logical, Deontic reasoning; Evolutionary, pragmatic factors; Wason selection task

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2 Probability and Instruction Effects in Syllogistic Conditional Reasoning

Authors: Olimpia Matarazzo, Ivana Baldassarre

Abstract:

The main aim of this study was to examine whether people understand indicative conditionals on the basis of syntactic factors or on the basis of subjective conditional probability. The second aim was to investigate whether the conditional probability of q given p depends on the antecedent and consequent sizes or derives from inductive processes leading to establish a link of plausible cooccurrence between events semantically or experientially associated. These competing hypotheses have been tested through a 3 x 2 x 2 x 2 mixed design involving the manipulation of four variables: type of instructions (“Consider the following statement to be true", “Read the following statement" and condition with no conditional statement); antecedent size (high/low); consequent size (high/low); statement probability (high/low). The first variable was between-subjects, the others were within-subjects. The inferences investigated were Modus Ponens and Modus Tollens. Ninety undergraduates of the Second University of Naples, without any prior knowledge of logic or conditional reasoning, participated in this study. Results suggest that people understand conditionals in a syntactic way rather than in a probabilistic way, even though the perception of the conditional probability of q given p is at least partially involved in the conditionals- comprehension. They also showed that, in presence of a conditional syllogism, inferences are not affected by the antecedent or consequent sizes. From a theoretical point of view these findings suggest that it would be inappropriate to abandon the idea that conditionals are naturally understood in a syntactic way for the idea that they are understood in a probabilistic way.

Keywords: Conditional Probability, Conditionals, conditional syllogism, inferential task

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1 Regret, Choice, and Outcome

Authors: Olimpia Matarazzo, Lucia Abbamonte

Abstract:

In two studies we challenged the well consolidated position in regret literature according to which the necessary condition for the emergence of regret is a bad outcome ensuing from free decisions. Without free choice, and, consequently, personal responsibility, other emotions, such as disappointment, but not regret, are supposed to be elicited. In our opinion, a main source of regret is being obliged by circumstance out of our control to chose an undesired option. We tested the hypothesis that regret resulting from a forced choice is more intense than regret derived from a free choice and that the outcome affects the latter, not the former. Besides, we investigated whether two other variables – the perception of the level of freedom of the choice and the choice justifiability – mediated the relationships between choice and regret, as well as the other four emotions we examined: satisfaction, anger toward oneself, disappointment, anger towards circumstances. The two studies were based on the scenario methodology and implied a 2 x 2 (choice x outcome) between design. In the first study the foreseen short-term effects of the choice were assessed; in the second study the experienced long-term effects of the choice were assessed. In each study 160 students of the Second University of Naples participated. Results largely corroborated our hypotheses. They were discussed in the light of the main theories on regret and decision making.

Keywords: Choice, outcome, regret

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