Complete Question Explanation
Assumption. The correct answer choice is (A)
This is a standard example of a Supporter Assumption question. In this type of question, the pieces of
an argument are not fully connected and additional information must be provided to link the pieces
together. This most often occurs when the test-makers introduce a new, essential element or term in
the conclusion that is not addressed elsewhere in the stimulus (thus the author assumes the conclusion
with the new information is true, despite the fact that it cannot be properly concluded without providing
additional information). The correct answer choice to these questions will generally link the premises to
the conclusion via this new term/phrase.
This argument contains two premises and a conclusion:
Premise: Students are less likely to respond positively to negative criticism from computer programs
than to negative criticism from humans.
Premise: One must respond positively to criticism in order to accept it.
Conclusion: Students are more likely to learn from criticism by humans than from criticism by computers.
Does this argument seem logical? Perhaps, but the idea of students learning from criticism in this
conclusion does not logically follow from anything in the premises. For the conclusion to be logical, one
must connect the new information that it contains (students learning) to the premises. Thus the correct
answer choice to this question should describe the appropriate relationship between accepting criticism
and learning from criticism.
Answer choice (A): This is the correct answer choice. Many test takers intuitively close the gap in this
argument as they are reading the stimulus. Answer choice (A) is an assumption on which the argument
depends because it explicitly states the link between the second premise and the conclusion.
Answer choice (B): This answer choice is not required by the argument. Even if computers were
compassionate, students still might be less likely to respond to criticism from computers than
criticism from humans. Therefore, the argument does not depend on assuming that computers are
Answer choice (C): Whether the less positive response to computer generated criticism was a conscious
rejection or an unconscious reaction (i.e. the result of knowing that the criticism was computer
generated), the author still concludes that students are more likely to learn from criticism by humans and
the correct answer choice must address this new information.
Answer choice (D): One way to determine if an answer choice is a necessary assumption is to negate it
and consider the resulting effect on the argument. When a necessary assumption is negated, the argument
becomes completely invalid. If the argument remains valid in spite of the negated answer choice, that
answer choice is not a necessary assumption and cannot be correct. This is called the Assumption
Negation Technique and is extremely useful when attempting Assumption questions.
In this case, would the argument be destroyed if humans were more critical of a given work than
computers? No. The argument only compares the students’ reaction to negative criticism from both
sources. The relative frequency, or the severity, of negative criticism from either source is therefore
irrelevant and not an assumption upon which the argument depends.
Answer choice (E): This answer choice can be eliminated by using the same reasoning as was used
to eliminate answer choice (D). Whether computers are more critical than humans, just as critical as
humans, or less critical than humans, the argument itself is unaffected.