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Complete Question Explanation

Flaw in the Reasoning—CE. The correct answer choice is (E)

The stimulus discusses the results of a survey given to secretaries. Based on responses to questions about secretarial work, a group of secretaries was identified with very positive attitudes. These same secretaries had been rated by their supervisors as excellent workers. Based on these findings, in the last sentence the author concludes that the secretaries’ positive attitudes caused them to perform well on the job. If you missed this causal conclusion, go back and review the last sentence, paying particular attention to the causal indicator “produced.”

Answer choice (A): This answer choice describes an overgeneralization, but the author’s conclusion was specific to the secretaries surveyed. Thus, because the survey was of secretaries, there is no problem with drawing the conclusion about secretaries.

A conclusion that would more closely match the flaw described in this answer choice would be, “Clearly all white collar workers with positive attitudes produce excellent job performance.” A conclusion of this type would be an overgeneralization because it would use a survey of secretaries to produce a conclusion about white collar workers (and, of course, the causal flaw would still be present as well).

Answer choice (B): This answer choice describes an argument that is circularly reasoned. However, although flawed, the argument in the stimulus uses the survey results and corresponding data about the secretaries’ performance to draw a conclusion about what caused that performance. Because the premises are different than the conclusion, the argument in the stimulus is not circular.

Answer choice (C): The argument does not need to consider that secretaries’ attitude towards other activities.

Answer choice (D): This answer choice describes the uncertain use of a term. However, the author is consistent in his or her use of the term “positive attitudes.”

Answer choice (E): This is the correct answer choice. This answer choice suggests that the author has made an error by assuming that the positive attitudes caused excellent performance. As the answer choice states, the relationship could be reversed, and the excellent performance could instead be the cause of the secretaries’ positive attitudes.

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