Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Wiemer, Katja

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Cognitive psychology; Science education; Secondary education; Cognitive psychology; English language--Connectives; Science--Study and teaching


The inclusion of causal connectives like "because" has been shown to influence the perceived quality of an explanation (Wiemer & Asiala, under revision). This study tested the effect of individual differences on the evaluation of explanations containing causal connective "because". Participants were recruited from programs of study in psychology and the natural sciences, and read 24 texts describing various scientific phenomena. Each text was followed by a "why" question about the causal mechanism of the phenomena, and a corresponding answer to be evaluated in terms of its quality as an explanation for that question. All answers overlapped equally with the text, but varied by quality (did or did not contain causally relevant information regarding the question), and inclusion of causal connective "because". Overall, participants evaluated answers to be more explanatory when "because" was included. Academic major had little influence over this effect, however several interactions emerged when participants were compared on differences including level of background knowledge and logical reasoning ability.


Advisors: Katja Wiemer.||Committee members: M. Anne Britt; Joseph P. Magliano.


100 pages




Northern Illinois University

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