Why Scope Matters in CR Assumption

Let’s look at this CR Assumption question (it’s actually an LSAT question, but let’s give it a whirl):

In considering the fact that many people believe that promotions are often given to undeserving employees because the employees successfully flatter their supervisors, a psychologist argued that although many people who flatter their supervisors are subsequently promoted, flattery generally is not the reason for their success, because almost all flattery is so blatant that it is obvious even to those toward whom it is directed.

Which one of the following, if assumed, enables the psychologist’s conclusion to be properly drawn?

-Belief that flatterers get undeserving P
-Many who flatter get P

Notice here the 2nd sentence is split between evidence and conclusion. The “real conclusion” doesn’t start until “because almost all…” This happens quite often and can be confusing to students who often wonder which clause is the conclusion.

As with all Assumption questions, we have to look for the brand-new, sparkly keywords in the Conclusion — the “concept-shift,” or the new idea that appears in the conclusion that appears to “come out of nowhere.” Here it is this new idea about it being “blatant” or “obvious.”

Concept Shift: “flattery…obvious”

Why does it matter if the flattery is obvious to the supervisors? There is clearly an assumption made here that whether the supervisors KNOW they are being flattered has an impact.

The scope of the correct answer needs to be on the awareness of the supervisors.

Prediction: If supervisors know they are being flattered, they wouldn’t promote undeserving employees b/c of it.

Let’s look at the scope of each answer choice:

(A) People in positions of responsibility expect to be flattered. (scope: Expectations of Supervisors)
(B) Official guidelines for granting promotion tend to focus on merit. (scope: Official guidelines)
(C) Flattery that is not noticed by the person being flattered is ineffective. (scope: Effectiveness of Flattery)
(D) Many people interpret insincere flattery as sincere admiration. (scope: Misinterpretation of Flattery)
(E) Supervisors are almost never influenced by flattery when they notice it. (scope: Supervisors and Flatter)

At this point, because of our prediction, it should be very clear the answer is (E), with (D) as our second-best (but still wrong). Identifying that “concept shift” and getting crystal-clear on what kind of scope you expect the correct answer to focus on will REALLY help your Assumption-spotting abilities.

Just because we’re here, let’s look in more detail at the answer choices:

(A) Whether supervisors EXPECT to be flattered has no bearing on whether promotions occur as a result of it.

(B) What official guidelines DO or DON’T say has zero stated relationship in the passage to the ACTIONS of supervisors.

(C) This is trickier. It basically says that Unnoticed Flatter is Ineffective. Okay…but we cannot assume that Flatter that is noticed IS effective. And even if we could, that would Weaken the argument, not be its Assumption.

(D) Just because MANY people think flatter is sincere, doesn’t mean SUPERVISORS do, and it doesn’t follow therefore that the supervisors would promote flatterers just because they think they are sincere. This choice essentially just says, “Some people are dumb.” Well…okay, but what does that have to do with the idea of supervisors and promotions?

(E) If we negate this choice, we can see even more why it is correct.

Negation of (E): Supervisors ARE influenced by flattery when they notice it.

Well, if they ARE, then the author’s entire conclusion that flattery is not the reason for the success kind of falls apart!