According to Mercier and Sperber (2009, 2011, 2017), people have an immediate and intuitive feeling about the strength of an argument. These intuitive evaluations are not captured by current evaluation methods of argument strength, yet they could be important to predict the extent to which people accept the claim supported by the argument. In an exploratory study, therefore, a newly developed intuitive evaluation method to assess argument strength was compared to an explicit argument strength evaluation method (the PAS scale; Zhao et al., 2011), on their ability to predict claim acceptance (predictive validity) and on their sensitivity to differences in the manipulated quality of arguments (construct validity). An experimental study showed that the explicit argument strength evaluation performed well on the two validity measures. The intuitive evaluation measure, on the other hand, was not found to be valid. Suggestions for other ways of constructing and testing intuitive evaluation measures are presented.
Hornikx, J., Weerman, A., & Hoeken, H. (2022). An exploratory test of an intuitive evaluation method of perceived argument strength. Studies in Communication Sciences, 22 (2), 311-324. [link]
Empirical research has shown that high-quality arguments according to criteria from argumentation theory lead to higher claim acceptance than low-quality arguments. However, this relationship was not observed in some cultural settings. This leads to the question whether criteria for high-quality arguments are culturally variable or universal. Therefore, adding to existing research on sensitivity to quality criteria for the argument from authority and the argument from generalization conducted mainly in Western cultural contexts, an experiment was run in Turkey (N = 307). Results showed that Turkish participants were sensitive to the quality of arguments: claim acceptance was higher when high-quality variants were used than when low-quality variants were used. While not neglecting potential cultural variability, these data add to the findings that there might be some level of universality in sensitivity to criteria for argument quality.
Demir, Y., & Hornikx, J. (2022). Sensitivity to argument quality: Adding Turkish data to the question of cultural variability versus universality. Communication Research Reports, 39 (2), 104-113. [link]
During the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the world were bombarded by new information, often provided by experts, such as epidemiologists, virologists, or intensive care specialists. These experts have struggled at convincing the general public to behave in ways that make a way out of the pandemic possible. In this chapter, it is argued that audience acceptance of appeals to experts is conditional in two ways. First, acceptance of expert opinions is conditional upon the degree to which appeals to expert opinions respect critical questions regarding the evaluation of these appeals. Second, acceptance of expert opinions is conditional upon the audience’s prior belief in the claims. It is argued that the most likely factor that has played a role in the lack of influence of experts is the weak consensus between experts when it comes to issues regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hornikx, J. (2022). On the conditional acceptance of arguments from expert opinion. In Oswald, S., Lewinski, M., Greco, S., & Villata, S. (Eds.), The pandemic of argumentation (pp. 355-371). Springer. [link]