Publication Date

2018

Document Type

Dissertation/Thesis

First Advisor

Wiemer, Katja

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Department

Department of Psychology

LCSH

Cognitive psychology

Abstract

In science, mechanistic and teleological explanations differ in their account for why a phenomenon occurs. A mechanistic explanation presents events within the phenomenon's causal history, while a teleological explanation presents the function or benefit of the phenomenon. These explanation types present two different types of causal coherence relations; a cause- consequence relation for mechanistic explanations, and an enabling relationship for teleological explanations. The purpose of this study was to examine the role of the causal connective "because" in inference generation for the relations present in each explanation type. Two first experiments show that readers accept "because" as an appropriate causal connective to convey both cause-consequence and enabling relationships in scientific explanations, while the mediating ideas necessary for making sense of those relations differed between them. A third experiment used an inference verification task to evaluate to what extent reading "because" influenced the inference of those mediating ideas online. Verification time and causal sentence reading time were measured to evaluate whether inference generation is driven more by a fixed schema related to the connective "because" or by the explanatory schema inherent in the context. Verification times did not differ significantly by connective use, suggesting that inferential processing was unaffected by the inclusion of "because". However, a non-significant trend revealed opposite patterns in verification times for each explanation type when "because" was included. Results are discussed in light of the hypothesized accounts for inference generation in both explanation types, and regarding the processing of scientific explanations generally.

Comments

Committee members: Britt, M. Anne; Magliano, Joseph P.; Millis, Keith K.||Advisor: Wiemer, Katja.||Includes illustrations.||Includes bibliographical references.

Extent

80 pages

Language

eng

Publisher

Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type

Text

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