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Explanatory Coherence

 

Explanations > Theories > Explanatory Coherence

Description | Example | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

When we are trying to understand something, we will often build several candidate hypotheses as possible explanations. We will tend to prefer those explanations which:

  • Have greater explanatory breadth, which explains a wide number of factors.
  • Are simple, requiring very little thought to fully understand.
  • Are plausible, being easy to explain from other information.

Once the scales are tipped and one hypothesis starts to look good compared with the others, the acceptability of the hypothesis rapidly increases until it is the only 'logical' choice.  

Example

If a friend is unpleasant to me, I like to think that they have had a bad day. This  explains other behaviors too, is simple and can easily be explained away.

So what?

Using it

When explaining something help the other person to develop an internal hypothesis that is easy for them to accept.

Defending

Beware plausible explanations.

See also

Perceptual Contrast Effect

References

Thagard (1989)

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