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Title:The influence of an inherence heuristic on scientific explanation
Author(s):Horne, Zachary S
Director of Research:Cimpian, Andrei
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Cimpian, Andrei
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Hummel, John; Pomerantz, Eva; Brewer, William; Hyde, Daniel; Livengood, Jonathan
Department / Program:Psychology
Discipline:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Explanation
Psychology
Reasoning
Heuristics
Abstract:Although scientific reasoning is usually deliberate, it may also be influenced by the intuitive processes involved in everyday reasoning. Here, I investigated whether explanatory heuristic processes biased towards inherence (that is, the tendency to oversample easily-accessible inherent facts; Cimpian & Salomon, 2014) influence scientific explanation. Across seven studies, children and adults (N = 1,455) explained outcomes of unfamiliar experiments in physics, biology, and chemistry predominantly in terms of inherent features. These inherence-biased explanations exhibited multiple signatures of heuristic reasoning (e.g., they decreased with age and time spent deliberating). Strikingly, I also found traces of this bias toward inherence in initial explanations of phenomena from the history of science (e.g., phlogiston explains combustion); these historical explanations were obtained via a survey of historians of science and were coded by hypothesis-blind researchers. These findings suggest that scientific explanation may be influenced by the same inherence heuristic that biases everyday explanation.
Issue Date:2017-06-07
Type:Thesis
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/98226
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Zachary Horne
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-09-29
Date Deposited:2017-08


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