Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Kalish, Michael


Heuristics and biases, Inherence bias, Item response theory, Psychological essentialism

Subject Categories

Cognitive Psychology


Understanding the cognitive processes that help people generate explanations is one of the fundamental questions in cognitive science and philosophy. In this study, we try to examine the extent to which working memory capacity can predict peoples’ preference for scientific explanations under uncertainty. Specifically, we distinguish between possible explanations in terms of their focus on inherent vs. extrinsic entities associated with an observation. According to past findings, inherent vs. extrinsic properties of a phenomenon are different in terms of the ease of accessibility for cognitive processes. The results of this research indicate a significant association between people’s tendencies to choose inherent properties of scientific observations and their working memory capacity as measured by operation span task.


Open Access



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