Seeking Ideal Explanations in a Non-Ideal World

Elizabeth Kon, Tania Lombrozo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Research has found that when children or adults attempt to explain novel observations in the course of learning, they are more likely to discover patterns that support ideal explanations: explanations that are maximally simple and broad. However, not all learning contexts support such explanations. Can explaining facilitate discovery nonetheless? We present a study in which participants were tasked with discovering a rule governing the classification of items, where the items were consistent two non-ideal rules: one correctly classified 66% of cases, the other 83%. We find that when there is no ideal rule to be discovered (i.e., no 100% rule), participants prompted to explain are better than control participants at discovering the best available rule (i.e., the 83% rule). This supports the idea that seeking ideal explanations can be beneficial in a non-ideal world because the pursuit of an ideal explanation can facilitate the discovery of imperfect patterns along the way.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 40th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, CogSci 2018
PublisherThe Cognitive Science Society
Pages1939-1944
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9780991196784
StatePublished - 2018
Event40th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Changing Minds, CogSci 2018 - Madison, United States
Duration: Jul 25 2018Jul 28 2018

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 40th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, CogSci 2018

Conference

Conference40th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Changing Minds, CogSci 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityMadison
Period7/25/187/28/18

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Keywords

  • explanation
  • learning
  • scientific practice

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