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#15 - Psychologists recently conducted a study in which

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Complete Question Explanation

Assumption. The correct answer choice is (D)

This author presents the results of a recent study in which psychologists showed expressions
depicting five different emotions (fear, happiness, disgust, anger, sadness) to people from different
cultures. Although the people who looked at the pictures all came from different cultures, they
identified the same emotions as depicted by the various facial expressions. Based upon these
results, the author concludes that people have a genetic predisposition to associations between those
emotions and such expressions.

The stimulus is followed by an Assumption question, so the correct answer choice will provide an
assumption which the author depends upon. That means that the right answer choice, when logically
negated, will hurt the author’s argument (the Assumption Negation Technique).

Answer choice (A): The author’s conclusion deals with the associations that people have when
viewing particular expressions. Whether or not the people in the photographs were actually feeling
the emotions perceived by viewers is irrelevant, so this is not an assumption on which the author’s
argument depends.

Answer choice (B): The author’s argument does not deal with the emotional dispositions of various
cultures, but with various cultures’ reactions to certain facial expressions. To confirm that this is
not an assumption on which the author relies, negate it to determine if taking the assumption away
weakens the author’s argument:

One’s emotional disposition is influenced by one’s culture.

This does not affect the author’s argument, which concludes that there exists a genetic predisposition
to associate certain expressions with certain emotions.

Answer choice (C): This choice would actually weaken the author’s argument, which concludes
that similar responses reflect a genetic predisposition, so this cannot be an assumption on which the
author relies.

Answer choice (D): This is the correct answer choice. Based on the fact that people from different
cultures all share the same associations with certain facial expressions, the author concludes that
there is a genetic predisposition to such associations. To confirm that this is an assumption on which
the author’s argument depends, negate it and note the effect on the argument:

Even if there is a behavior common to people from many different cultures, there is probably no
genetic predisposition to that behavior.
Clearly, the negated version of this answer choice weakens the author’s argument, confirming this to
be an assumption upon which the author’s argument does depend.

Answer choice (E): This choice is about the people in the pictures, while the focus of the stimulus
is on the people looking at the pictures, all perceiving the same emotions, regardless of cultural
background. To confirm that this is not an assumption on which the author’s argument depends,
logically negate it and see if the negated version affects the argument:

The people whose faces were depicted were all from the same culture.

Again, because the focus on the stimulus was on the way that the pictures were perceived by others,
this negated assumption has no effect, confirming this to be an incorrect answer choice.
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I chose D correctly, but I was not sure about B.
I thought it somewhat says the same thing as D...what makes B wrong?
Dave Killoran
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Hi 15veries,

Thanks for the question! Answer choice (B) goes too far and also alters the terms of the argument. Let's take a look at both points, in reverse order:

If we go back to the conclusion, the author stated that, "This shows that people are genetically predisposed to associate certain facial expressions with certain basic emotions." Note the topic there—it's about how people associate with emotions. Now look at (B): "One's emotional disposition is not influenced by one's culture." This answer is about one's actual emotional disposition (as opposed to their face). So, right there, answer choice (B) has changed the terms of what is under discussion, and there's no support for that in the argument.

Next, let's say that (B) actually had used the right terms. Would it then be right? I would say no, because it goes too far in flatly stating that the culture has no influence. The author's argument doesn't rest on a total lack of cultural influence, just that genetics has a greater (or decisive) determination on how people express emotion. For proof of that, note the words used by the author to present the idea: "genetically predisposed."

Please let me know if that helps. Thanks!
Dave Killoran
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Is "genetically predisposed" in the conclusion a rogue element that we have to connect in this Supporter Assumption question?
James Finch
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Hi Grace,

Exactly! Once you get the hang of them, Supporter Assumption questions can become fairly simple by following a similar approach to that of Justify questions:

1. Identify a novel/new/rogue element appears in the conclusion, but not in any of the premises

2. Connect the novel element in the conclusion to the premises (Prephrasing is key here)

3. Check that the connection is correct by using the Assumption Negation technique (often there will be two or more answer choices that contain the new element, so make sure you're choosing the correct one)