Explanation and Abductive Inference

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

177 Scopus citations


Everyday cognition reveals a sophisticated capacity to seek, generate, and evaluate explanations for the social and physical worlds around us. Why are we so driven to explain, and what accounts for our systematic explanatory preferences? This chapter reviews evidence from cognitive psychology and cognitive development concerning the structure and function of explanations, with a focus on the role of explanations in learning and inference. The findings highlight the value of understanding explanation and abductive inference both as phenomena in their own right and for the insights they provide concerning foundational aspects of human cognition, such as representation, learning, and inference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199968718
ISBN (Print)9780199734689
StatePublished - Nov 21 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


  • Abduction
  • Abductive inference
  • Explanation
  • Inference to the best explanation
  • Self-explanation
  • Understanding


Dive into the research topics of 'Explanation and Abductive Inference'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this