Explanations and Causal Judgments are Differentially Sensitive to Covariation and Mechanism Information

Abstract

We report four experiments demonstrating that judgments of explanatory goodness are sensitive both to covariation evidence and to mechanism information. Compared to judgments of causal strength, explanatory judgments tend to be more sensitive to mechanism and less sensitive to covariation. Judgments of understanding tracked covariation least closely. We discuss implications of our findings for theories of explanation, understanding and causal attribution.


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