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Jumping to conclusions? Take the Cash Register Test to find out how much

For many years I have used the following exercise in trainings and workshops on conflict resolution, communication, and negotiation. Known as “The Cash Register Exercise”, it is adapted from “The Uncritical Inference Test” created by William V. Haney, Communication and Organizational Behavior: Text and Cases.

To complete the exercise, read the following story. Below it are 12 statements about the story. After you read the story, determine whether each of the 12 statements is

  • T – true;
  • F – false ; or
  • ? – you do not have enough information to determine whether the statement is true or false

Allow yourself no more than 5 minutes to complete the exercise. On Monday, October 13, I’ll reveal the correct answers. (In the meantime, please try to resist the temptation to google them ahead of time.)

Ready? Here goes:

The Cash Register Exercise

The Story

A businessman had just turned off the lights in the store when a man appeared and demanded money. The owner opened a cash register. The contents of the cash register were scooped up, and the man sped away. A member of the police force was notified promptly.

12 Statements about the Story

  1. A man appeared after the owner had turned off his store lights.
  2. The robber was a man.
  3. The man did not demand money.
  4. The man who opened the cash register was the owner.
  5. The store owner scooped up the contents of the cash register and ran away.
  6. Someone opened a cash register.
  7. After the man who demanded the money scooped up the contents of the cash register, he ran away.
  8. While the cash register contained money, the story does not state how much.
  9. The robber demanded money of the owner.
  10. It was broad daylight when the man appeared.
  11. The story concerns a series of events in which only three persons are referred to: the owner of the store, a man who demanded money, and a member of the police force.
  12. The following events in the story are true: someone demanded money, a cash register was opened, its contents were scooped up, and a man dashed out of the store.

To pique your interest further, I should warn you that in all the times I have used this exercise, only twice has anyone gotten all the answers right. If you’d like to print out a copy so that you can write your responses down, click here to download a PDF version.

Good luck, and check back on Monday, October 13, for the answers.

                        author

Diane J. Levin

Diane Levin, J.D., is a mediator, dispute resolution trainer, negotiation coach, writer, and lawyer based in Marblehead, Massachusetts, who has instructed people from around the world in the art of talking it out. Since 1995 she has helped clients resolve disputes involving tort, employment, business, estate, family, and real property… MORE >

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