Illusory Inferences about ProbabilitiesP.N.Johnson-LairdauthorF.SavaryauthorThe mental model theory postulates that reasoners build models of the situations described in premises. A conclusion is possible if it holds in at least one model of the premises; it is probable if it holds in most of the models; and it is necessary if it holds in all of the models. The theory also postulates that reasoners represent as little information as possible in explicit models and, in particular, that they represent only information about what is true. One consequence is that there should be a category of illusory inferences: they will have conclusions that seem obvious, but that are wholly erroneous. Experiment 1 established the existence of such illusory inferences about probabilities. Overall, 88% of the intelligent adult subjects chose as more probable an outcome that was impossible for at least one of the illusory problems. Experiment 2 corroborated the phenomenon and showed that illusory inferences include a wide variety of problems. Finally, the paper argues that current theories based on formal rules of inference are unlikely to be able to explain the illusions.Applied Cognitive PsychologyCognitive Psychology1996Journal (Paginated)