The Role of Representational System in Relational Reasoning

Alexa M. Kottmeyer, Peggy N. Van Meter, Chelsea E. Cameron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Relational reasoning, or the ability to identify meaningful patterns within streams of information, has emerged as an important factor in a variety of complex tasks. One factor that has received relatively little research attention, however, is how relational reasoning may be influenced by the representational systems (i.e., verbal or nonverbal) that hold the information about which one is reasoning. Most studies have also focused only on analogical reasoning at the expense of anomaly, antinomy, antithesis, 3 additional forms of relational reasoning. All participants in the current study, 762 undergraduate students, completed shortened versions of the Test of Relational Reasoning (TORR; Alexander, 2012) and verbal Test of Relational Reasoning (vTORR; Alexander, 2015). These 2 tests both measure each of the 4 forms of relational reasoning, but the TORR uses a nonverbal representation system and the vTORR uses a verbal system. Patterns of performance within and between these relational reasoning tests, as well as measures of linguistic and spatial ability, test the hypothesis that representational system adds explanatory value for understanding relational reasoning. Results show that the 4 form framework of relational reasoning is present in the 2 measures, both separately and combined, but representational system exerts a more powerful effect than expected. Use of the shortened measures is also supported through evidence of score reliability and validity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)288-307
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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